Saturday, June 30, 2012


Last night the DC region was hit by a whopper of a thunderstorm. Amanda and I had turned in early (around 10pm) thinking we'd get some rest after a tiring week and be ready for an early start in the morning. Half an our later we were roused from our descent into slumber by what sounded like a freight train blasting past the apartment. We rushed outside and witnessed the most violent windstorm I've ever seen. It ripped through the alleys between the high-rise apartment buildings with enough gravel to sand-blast the paint off the facades and transform my eyeballs into unhappy sandboxes. The sandstorm was only the prologue, however: About four minutes later, the deluge hit with a full battery of thunder and lightning. The power went out. We were soaked. It was awesome. A fitting end to the hottest day in DC in something like 150 years.

Naturally we watched until the tempest subsided into an ordinary summer rainstorm and the power came back on. We reset the clocks and went back to bed.

Next morning, while munching on a quick pre-ride bowl of oatmeal, I scanned the front page of the Washington Post. Turns out the storm was not just any old summer downpour: Five people were dead, 1.5 million had no electricity, hundreds of trees downed everywhere. Whoah. 

In fact, this was a special kind of thunderstorm.  According to The Washington Post, "this kind of fast-moving, long-lived, large, and violent thunderstorm complex is known as a derecho."  More facts about derechos can be found here and, about our derecho in particular, here.  Apparently the defining characteristic of a derecho is the severe "straight-line" wind combined with thunderstorm squalls.  Ours formed in Indiana and blasted its way to DC in about 10 hours.  For all the hype last year about Hurricane Irene, this was way worse.

We were fortunate to have made it through the storm relatively unscathed.  Over the course of the day yesterday (and through the weekend), we discovered that many other people were not so lucky.  Trees were down everywhere.

Next door to the church
The Post has more photos of the destruction here.

Most businesses in the region were closed due to power outages, and those that had backup generators generally had no Internet connection and so could not process credit cards.  This made running errands difficult; we took to calling ahead before going anywhere.  It also complicated Saturday-evening plans for dinner and a movie.  The crowds seeking refuge from the heat meant that the theaters were sold out, and the waiting lines to get into the few restaurants with power were much longer than ordinary.  We managed nevertheless to get a table at Southside 815 in Alexandria and catch a late showing of Brave before coming home with a newfound thankfulness for the blessing of electricity, air conditioning and food refrigeration.

Buiscuits and corn bread,
with peach-pepper jelly and apple butter
Pork chops with onions, green beans, yams and mashed potatoes

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would have loved to be on your balcony for that storm. Always been a fan of horrendous weather! How did your plants do? Nothing like all the foliage getting sandblasted and wind-whipped to shreds. So glad your power came back on. Lady