Monday, February 26, 2007


I've wanted to post about the weather and resulting infrastructure of the south, but in hopes that I would make the trek into town with the camera (all two blocks of the trip) and take some pictures to show what I'm talking about, I've been putting it off.

I don't have any pictures.

However, let me tell you about it. Water falls from the sky in floods. Frequency of presipitation doesn't impress me. I've spent time in DC, where it rains daily, and time in Alaska where it rains up to three times a day, and you can out-run the storm clouds that wander through the mountainous countryside, visible and finite to the naked eye. More recently, I've built a cabin in the woods of Vermont in what seemed like a 30 day constant drizzle.

Down here the water cascades, different from my previous rain experience as a garden hose to a water fall.

But more fascinating (for me) than the falling water are the systems set up to deal with these sudden deluges. I have never seen such a dedication to gutterage. Every little road has immense ravines on either side to deal with the flash flooding that is rainfall. Gutters in town are easily waste deep next to the sidewalk, and those running next to the main roads could pass small cars.

Parking lots have huge concrete gutters at 10 ft intervals, running down what looks to me like a very short embankment. Every house with a driveway coming off any sized road has a land bridge over the immense gutters that flank all the roads. I've never seen so many culverts.

What's more, these things fill up. They overflow. They can't contain the masses of water that demand passage every few days. It's incredible.

And, if that sounds not as interesting as I find it, this past Saturday was a whole different kind of hoot. Saturday night, after a long rainy day, Alexe and I made dinner (a scrumptious chicken with olives dish) and had a prairie home companion playing.

The show was disrupted by the screaming weather advisory, listing off thunderstorm, tornado, and hurricane warnings. This episode was cut short by the state weather advisory board, with slightly conflicting reports of locations of several tornados. For the next half hour, we heard two minute clips of Garrison Keillor, followed by more warnings tripping over each other. The message was there are several tornados, everyone is under advisory, they're all SouthWest of you, moving North East at 85 mph.

Alexe got a bit nervous, I told myself we were in a 100 year old house, luck should probably hold out for the night. The wind and rain was definitely howling, and the lightning strikes were impressive, followed by house shaking (and dog scaring) thunder.

As we sat down to eat in the central room of the house (no windows), with the radio still playing it's mixed fare, the town's siren wound up to a high pitched whine, and stayed on for the next 20 minutes.

It was our first experience with weather of that sort.

Dinner was delicious.

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