Sunday, September 5, 2010

What I Have Learned About Hurricanes

Evening sky the night before Earl
I lived in the province of British Columbia for 33 years.  There are no hurricanes there.  In fact, I believed before moving to the maritimes that Canada did not get hurricanes.  You should have seen my face last summer when a hurricane was announced.
** not me, but I did have this haircut when I was younger **
But this is CANADA!!

Now that I've gotten past that little step I've learned a few things about hurricanes.

Over the course of this past week there have been many many reports about the activity of Hurricane Earl.  At first I couldn't understand what was going on.  Then on Friday morning I came into work and found two coworkers discussing Earl.  One lady recited a report about the speed and direction Earl was coming in.  My other coworker disagreed and stated she heard a report that gave completely opposite information.  The first lady said that 'no, this was the latest information, and she had just heard it on the radio coming into work'.  And the second lady replied, 'but I just heard my information on the radio coming into work!'.

What I know now is that NOBODY knows what a hurricane will do.  Even the weather man, so don't bother listening to him.  Just be glad you've been informed it's headed in your direction and take cover.

Another simple fact about hurricanes I've picked up is that it comes in bands.  At 2pm Saturday afternoon the rain was pounding and the wind was howling.  But come 4pm the sun was out and the sky was clear.  Great!  Time to go outside and inspect the damage.  Not so fast.
A quiet moment between bands
When I turned on the radio I discovered that Earl hadn't even left Nova Scotia yet!!  It was another couple hours before the real storm hit.  Thank goodness I turned on the radio instead of biking down to the beach.  That could have been awkward.

One more thing I have learned this past weekend is that trees are built to withstand wind.  They shake and dance but the key is that they move.  Wood is flexible and elastic.  I believe the saying goes "Good timber does not grow with ease.  The stronger the wind the stronger the trees".  All of my newly planted trees held up very well despite the fact that not a single one of them was staked.
Plume poppies however are not so elastic.  Considering the invasive nature of this plant I'm not terribly worried about it though.  But it's interesting to find out it can't handle a good wind.


  1. I'm glad there was no damage! I love the quote about trees. I think it holds true for people as well. :0)

  2. Hi Marguerite! We don't have hurricanes in this part of the Pacific Northwest, but we have windstorms which uproot 100 year old trees. It's so fortunate that your trees were not damaged!

  3. Here in Eastern NC we're the frequent target of hurricanes. And you are so right that NOBODY knows what a hurricane will do. I think of Hurricane Hugo. The forecasters were sure it was coming ashore near us but instead it went inland way down in Charleston and we didn't get even a breeze or a drop of rain from it. Fran and Floyd both hit us though, and we watched the trees bend and sway, for they are strong. But with Fran - a category 3 - many of the tall pines snapped and sliced right through houses. Many of the ancient oaks were uprooted and fell. Trees fell with Floyd as well, but not as many. Unfortunately, the tree services were in high demand after Hurricane Fran as homeowners wanted to remove ALL of their pines. A sad thing.

  4. TS - you're absolutely right. Life's challenges only help to strengthen our characters.

    Tatyana - I used to live in southern British Columbia and remember those windstorms. In some ways they are scarier than what we have here in PEI due to the large amount of absolutely huge trees. When a 100 foot Fir tree starts shaking you'd best get out of the way.

    Ginny - That upsets me so much. When I lived in BC we experienced a truly awful wind storm that brought down hundreds of trees. Afterwards people couldn't cut their trees down fast enough because they believed they were dangerous. There appears to be no understanding that healthy trees growing in stands together help to ease the wind, prevent soil erosion and protect homes. Unfortunately so many homes built today clearcut the lot first so the ground becomes unstable and then plant a single tree in the yard with no protection. Then they wonder why it falls over.

  5. Ooh Interesting info about Hurricanes Marguerite. I'm glad your trees were able to withstand Earls wrath.

  6. That's interesting that even the young trees you recently planted are survived the storm well. I recall the bad windstorms we had in BC a couple years ago, where I learned the true fear of large trees just falling down. It gave me a real inkling of what your storms are like. That said a tree will come down once it's so big that it's roots can no longer support it. Just ask the poor old cedars that came down in droves back in 2006 (was it really that long ago?)

  7. So happy to hear you came through unscathed,

  8. Melanie - I was very pleased with the outcome. My trees all got a little 'test' before winter sets in and it seems they are holding fast.

    Laura - oh I remember those storms so well. 2006 really? feels like yesterday. I've had a healthy fear of wind ever since. Luckily the trees aren't quite so large on this side of the country.

    Sandra - me too. We're still getting used to our house so I wasn't sure how things might go in a bad storm. I'm thrilled the roof's still where it should be.

  9. Marguerite, I'm so glad you came through Earl unscathed. The good thing about hurricanes is that, in a general sense, you get plenty of advance notice. The bad thing, as you point out, is that they are hard to predict. Once nice thing about living in northern New England or the Maritimes, though, is that the water is *cold,* so hurricanes never grow into bigger storms after they get there. (Those winter nor'easters are a whole different matter.) Your post took me back to a period 40 years ago when I lived in southern California and had a similarly steep learning curve about earthquakes. -Jean

  10. Jean, Having lived in an earthquake zone for so long we had safety kits and knew what to do in emergency. But coming east we thought we had left all that behind. I do like that there is some warning with hurricanes though, earthquakes, with their absolute unpredictability, rather terrify me.