Storms

I always like the feeling of Friday.  The kids feel more relaxed because there won’t be homework due the next day, and we might be able to sleep in for a couple of days, depending on the sports/scouts/etc. schedules.  This Friday (today), however, Hanna and Ike are all we can think about.  One of my sisters lives near Baton Rouge that just got smacked by Gustav.  They were without power for a couple of days, and now Louisiana is cleaning up again. An uncle flies for one of the oil companies off the Louisiana coast; he got called back to work yesterday.  And now the Weather Channel is on to the next one.  We are at the upper end of the projected target for Hanna, so we should have a couple of nice rainy, windy days.

Growing up near the beach in Florida, I am used to stormy weather.  I remember the year Hurricane Frederic hit; it was the day before my father’s birthday.  As a kid, you are excited when a big storm comes.  When you lose electricity, you know there probably won’t be school for a few days.  You get to pull out the candles and flashlights.  And all the kids in the neighborhood gradually end up outside playing.  But then you grow up and see the real devastation these storms can leave behind. 

Hurricanes in the Pacific are called typhoons.  We lived in Guam when one of the strongest typhoons hit the island.  Pongsona, pronounced (pong-sahn-wah), struck in early December.  We ended up without power for nearly 2 weeks.  Four of the fuel storage tanks on the island caught on fire just after the typhoon swept through from static electricity, gas vapors in low tanks, and the strong winds.  Gas was being rationed out at the gas stations, and I remember waiting in line for more than 8 hours to fill our gas cans.  When we were able to drive around, the damage was amazing.  Cars were flipped over all around.  Palm trees were pulled out of the ground and leaning.  Homes were badly damaged or totally destroyed.  FEMA tents started popping up all over; they looked like igloos.  And some were still around a year later.  My husband enjoyed bbq-ing outside with the neighbors and having the kids outside playing.  We started worrying if Santa would be able to make it to our house that year.  But the power came back on 5 days before Christmas.  The kids loved it; they ended up having a month-long winter break.

From Wikipedia:  Typhoon Pongsona

Typhoon (JMA)
Category 4 super typhoon (SSHS)
Duration December 3December 11
Intensity 165 km/h (105 mph) (10-min), 940 hPa (mbar)

Typhoon Pongsona

Typhoon Pongsona was the last typhoon of the season, and was the costliest disaster in 2002 in the United States.[12]The name “Pongsona” was contributed by North Korea and is the Korean name for the garden balsam. Pongsona developed out of an area of disturbed weather on December 2, and steadily intensified to reach typhoon status on December 5. On December 8 it passed through Guam and the Northern Marianas Islandswhile near its peak 10-min winds of 175 km/h (110 mph). It ultimately turned to the northeast, weakened, and became extratropical on December 11.

Considered by some to be the worst typhoon to have struck Guam, Pongsona produced strong wind gusts peaking at 278 km/h (173 mph), which left the entire island without power and destroyed about 1,300 houses. With strong building standards and experience from repeated typhoon strikes, there were no fatalities directly related to Pongsona, though there was one indirect death from flying glass. Damage on the island totaled over $700 million (2002 USD, $800 million 2007 USD), making Pongsona among the five costliest typhoons on the island. The typhoon also caused heavy damage on Rota and elsewhere in the Northern Marianas Islands, and as a result of its impact, the name was retired.

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