Saturday, November 10, 2012

Past Deadline: Heading for the Bunker

Here is “Past Deadline” from the Nov. 1 issue of The Perth Courier.
Heading for the bunker
As I write this on the last weekend of October, the east coast is evacuating and shutting down in light of a conglomeration of weather systems around Hurricane Sandy.
Forecasters are saying it will affect tens of millions of people right into Ontario, particularly our southern neighbours.
The weather system is being called “Frankenstorm.”
How appropriately Halloweeny! I am inclined to dress up as a Terrified Person™ and build a bunker.
We have lots of canned goods and stuff in the pantry. We bought batteries on the weekend (although that was more related to Girlchild’s birthday party) and our large water jug is at the ready.
I never worry about having light as we are armed to the teeth with myriad flashlights and battery- and solar-powered lights of various descriptions. Groom-boy has a serious light fetish. It’s quite weird, actually.
I once proposed in this space that Groom-boy be hired by some independent third party to perpetually cruise the landscape at night and report burned-out lightbulbs. Over the years I have heard more than my fair share of stories about missing letters in store signs and extinguished street lights.
I tell you, he would be a bright shiny star at this. Burned-out lightbulbs cause him a surprising amount of angst and Must! Be! Stopped!
But I digress. We have food, water, batteries and lights. No bunker…but that could be overdoing it anyway.
I have also used this space to wax rhapsodic – not that long ago – about exaggerated weather stories.
Don’t get me wrong – I am in no way belittling the intensity of Hurricane Sandy and the fact it has killed dozens of people and affected countless lives. But I do worry when newscasters start labelling systems with terms like “Frankenstorm” and “Storm of the Century.” If it doesn’t live up to the hype, which has been known to happen, it’s like crying wolf.
How many times have we in eastern Ontario cancelled buses and headed for shelter based on weather warnings and news reports, only to be met with a skiff of snow or, worse, a bright sunshiny day? (Not that I have anything against bright sunshiny days. Besides, I am That Mother™ who takes her kids to school even when the buses are cancelled.)
I understand it’s risk management and that if warnings aren’t issued and heeded and something happens and someone gets hurt then it is a big deal.
There is a case to be made for the fact that forecasters are merely that – forecasters – and they can’t really tell exactly what is going to happen, but I wonder if we should all toughen up a little so that we know how to cope in bad weather rather than running scared? Especially in this rather sedate part of the world.
Think of this. In the spring or summer when it rains (assuming there is no drought), forecasters call it rain. It’s not “Rainmageddon.” We are not advised to take cover.
A “summer storm” involves thunder and lightning, which tends to be more threatening than plain old rain. That’s when you don’t want to be standing in a field with a metal pole or even an umbrella. Danger!
In the winter, however, it seems that every time it snows we call it a “winter storm.” (Snow is just frozen, slippery rain, remember.) It could be a smattering of light, fluffy flakes, but we are advised to proceed with caution as it is a “winter storm.”
If it’s more than a centimetre and a half – egad! It’s “Snowmageddon.”
What’s up with that? I mean, it’s Canada! It snows here! Get some winter tires! Wear a toque! Don’t wear stilettos – wear snow boots! Grab a coping mechanism and get on with life!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to find a bunker to stock with chocolate. Just in case.

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