Monday, December 18, 2006

Trees down in Crippen Park
Photo by Opa

So the third of this series of three storms has come and gone and it was a doozy.

When it landed off the west coast of Vancouver Island it was basically a hurricane and the surprise was both that it didn't let up much AND that the winds were westerly, which made it different from the southeasterlies that usually batter us. Point Atkinson had a record wind speed of 115km/h early Friday morning.

The real fun began Friday at about 3:30 am. The trees outside our place were really moving, and the wind was stronger than any I had ever felt. The strange thing was that they were blowing from behind us. We hardly ever feel a westerly wind blowing, but this one was wrecking havoc outside. Miller Road looked like someone had carpeted it with fir bows. I stood on our front porch and saw lots of lightning and watched patches of power go out in Whytecliff. We lost ou power at 3am.

The worst of the wind was over by 8am or so, but the damage had been done. There were trees down everywhere and huge damage to the power grid. The speculation was that we wouldn't have power for three or four days. We decided to use the event as a test run for earthquake preparedness. We broke out our wind up radio and cooked on the woodstove all day Friday and Saturday. Our water supply is gravity fed, so we had no trouble with water (unlike folks on wells) and we had heat and a cooking surface. I didn't even have to fire up the barbeque. In fact, other than going about our regular routines by candle light, things were surprisingly normal around here. That was, I think, in large part to our preparedness and the set up we have. It feels like we could go for four or five days without any trouble. That is what the provincial emergency preparedness program recommends for earthquake preparedness. Of course, if the house had sustained damage, we would have been camping out, but our emergency supplies are all at hand and it would have been no problem to move out of doors. All in all we fared very well.

The power came on about 7:30pm on Saturday, just as Caitlin and I were completing our black belt test in taekwondo, which we did at Cates Hill Chapel in a candle and lamp lit setting. It was a very traditional way to acheive this level in the Korean martial art and it was a very wonderful experience to have been able to do that with friends and family about in the cold and dark as we kicked, sparred and broke our way through the afternoon.

Once the power was on, we were able to see the real damage. There are trees down, and the Hydro crews were heros getting the island back on the grid by Sunday. A few plaes sustained damage from falling trees, but there were more stories of good luck than bad. We were in Vancouver today though and drove through Stanley Park and it is a mess. There are hundreds of trees down there and while not as devastated as Halifax during hurricane Juan, it's as bad as anyone has ever seen.

Bottom line is we're fine, not even a little shaken, and more confiedent tha ever about our ability to weather a bigger disaster if and when it comes.

As for what might come this week, the north Pacific weather map looks like a coache's diagram for a hockey game. There are five lows steaming towards us but we have two all-star defensemen in the form of a couple of huge high pressure zones to the southwest that might steer them north and give us some nice clear weather for Christmas. The forecast calles for more rain but stay tuned...anything could happen around here!