Saturday, September 24, 2005

The Weather, My Dad, and People Over-Reacting

Anytime there was major weather or a major news event in our area, I could count on a call from my father. Dad would call if he heard there was rain, a tornado, or front coming through. He loved the weather, and taught me to observe the weather too. He was a navigator in the Air Force, and I was one on a ship in the Coast Guard, so we shared an affinity for weather and cloud observation. We could both identify clouds, their composition, and their altitude. He could forecast short-term weather better than the news meteorologists. He taught me the movement of weather patterns, and could calculate what time an approaching storm would hit. I'm lucky that his knowledge passed on to me as well.

This week has brought Hurricane Rita to the Texas coast. In Central Texas a week ago, they were predicting the storm would pass through here and forecasting 50 mph winds and lots of rain. All of the tracking models were showing the path coming right through here, so we were preparing for some major weather.

On Thursday, even Ft. Hood (30 miles west of here and where my office is) announced that the entire post would close and only "essential personnel" like police, fire and EMS would be allowed access. They closed the PX, both financial institutions, food outlets, etc. So now, with the biggest threat to us being 20-25 mph winds, the whole post was locked down this morning, but they decided to open the Exchange, shoppettes, commissary, and gas stations at noon today. There is still an elevated alert and official safety alerts are posted.

Gasoline is in short supply all along Interstate 35, and places here in Temple are awaiting new supplies. People really freaked out, and went on a frenzy buying up all the water and batteries they could find. In the meantime, I knew all along there would be no danger to us, except maybe a gas shortage. The most I did was secure my patio furniture, and stow my barbecue pit and some loose items on the back porch so the wind wouldn't blow them around. We're not even going to benefit here from some of the rain on the fringes of Rita. So this morning, I turned the sprinkler on in the front, and watered all my plants in the back.

The thing I thought the most about though, is that I've talked to my brother from Katy, my brother from Oklahoma, my sister in Austin, and my sister and mom San Antonio this week. The weather connected us like it has all of our lives. Even though my dad isn't here to call us all, we've just called each other because there's a hurricane. And we were all concerned about my brother who lives near Houston who's now tucked away safely at my mom's house in San Antonio.

I've enjoyed being outside today. It's a little strange with 90 degree temps, and 20 mph winds. This morning the winds reminded me of an approaching front in the fall. It was cool enough to fool us, but now it's hot, and the wind is warm and dry. Even my front yard I watered this morning looks dry again. The wind and heat are causing some pretty rapid evaporation.

I love weather, and I love watching the sky. Today has made me feel close to my family, and I can feel my dad's appreciation of the weather situation. Lots of things remind me of him, but the weather especially does...especially when it makes all us siblings call each other. I think I'll call my sister in Colorado now.

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