Yes, that is a Game of Thrones reference. Yes, you should be ashamed if you can’t place it. Yes, you should go watch GoT right now if you haven’t seen it. If you have any power, that is.
So, last night was one of the single most terrifying experiences of my life. Granted, I know that might not be saying much considering I’m a staunchly middle class, fairly privileged, mostly-white person, but still. As you might already have heard (or experienced for yourself if you’re unlucky), Virginia, Maryland, DC, and much of the rest of the mid-Atlantic area was pounded by severe thunderstorms Friday night. And when I say severe, I mean SEVERE.
Technically, I’ve read that what we were hit with is called a “derecho“. Essentially, it’s a wall of successive thunderstorms all following each other in a line. We got winds up to (over?) 80 mph, an incredible amount of rain, and general mayhem.
And guess who was out driving when it started? Yep, this guy.
I was driving back from seeing “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”, which was quite a lovely movie, in my opinion, if not kind of emotionally traumatizing at the end. What it WAS, however, was quite possibly the absolute WORST movie to see before getting stuck in a torrential downpour (the movie is essentially about the armageddon). Also, I should probably note that our original intentions had been to see “Magic Mike”, but it was sold out. But I digress.
I was waiting at a stoplight when I saw the first signs of a storm that I had absolutely no idea to expect. I hadn’t heard anything about it (I freaking posted the weather in yesterday’s post, and it said 10% chance of rain. TEN PERCENT!), had no idea that anything was even amiss. Not until I saw that first dust cloud sweep across the road, that is. It was like something out a movie: a giant wall of sand and grit began hurling towards me. Lightning lit up the sky like fireworks, the bolts were flashing so frequently. The trees began to sway, violently. I heard the wind before I felt it, rushing through the trees like a steamroller before it finally hit my car. And when I say it hit it, I mean it HIT it. I felt it actually move my car.
My first thought was that I was about to be swept up into a tornado in my car, a la the movie “Twister”. My second set of thoughts was a mental battle about whether I should pull over or not. I was on a road that was lined with trees on either side, thrashing like crazy, so I ultimately decided that pulling over seemed less safe than continuing on. A few minutes later, the clouds opened up and the heavens rained down on us. Well, I guess technically the hail came first, crashing into my windshield along with leaves and twigs and road debris with a resounding “whack” that made me jump every time.
It was at about this time that I started to panic. Every time I started to cry, I had to tell myself to quit it because it only made it that much harder to see. The rain was pouring down with such intensity that my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up. I couldn’t see the lines in the road, only the tail lights of the car up ahead. I gripped the steering wheel so hard at this point that my forearms are actually a little bit sore today. I crawled along, keeping a fair distance behind the few cars that remained on the road. When the lights all suddenly went out, traffic lights included, I turned my hazards on, treated each stop light like a stop sign (see? I do remember things!) and prayed for the best.
Obviously, I did make it. I crumpled into a mess of tears and hyperventilation as soon as I stepped through the door, of course, but I made it. I consider it a miracle, considering how many downed trees, branches, and power lines there were. There are at least eight people in the DC metro area, however, that weren’t as lucky.
We, as well as the entire city of Falls Church and 1,000,000 people throughout Virginia, are without power. Today has seen record-breaking heat (but of course!). Rumors say it could be a week until power is restored, which is slightly staggering. I know that the power companies are doing all they can, considering the downed power lines they are having to repair, but it’s still a little disheartening. I snagged the dogs and took them to Sean’s place because he, miraculously, still has power and A/C.
I’m seeing a lot of “first world problems” jokes being tossed around on Facebook. And I know that in light of the Colorado fires and world hunger and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and every other global atrocity, this is not necessarily high on the logical complaint list. I’m not really complaining, I promise. I’m just telling the story of how I was personally traumatized by Mother Nature yesterday, and reporting the after-effects of the worst storm that this area has seen, well, probably ever. And people ask why I hate to drive.
For those of you who have been affected by the storm and subsequent power outages, I hope you’re finding a way to stay cool! Take special care of your pets, as they are far more easily affected by the heat than we are! Don’t leave them trapped in a steaming home (just like you would never leave them in a car, right?!) and make sure they have plenty of water. Stay hydrated yourselves, too!