Wednesday, November 30, 2011

3 Months, 19 Days, 1 Hour & 14 Minutes

With December beginning at midnight tonight, I figured it would a good time to launch the official “John's Old Truck Countdown to Spring 2012.” Each weekly post between now and then will begin with the number of days left until the cover comes off the truck. Of course this is New England, which means March 20th, 2012 could be a sunny 65 degree day, or could see us buried under a foot of snow. Hopefully Mother Nature will smile on us, especially given the brutal weather year we've had in 2011, and we won't have to delay the unveiling.

So how brutal was the weather here this year? Well, we kicked it off in grand style in January with more snow than I can ever remember seeing in any full winter in my lifetime, most of which came in less than a single month. I seriously thought it would be July before the last of it melted away. Thankfully, that prediction didn't come to pass.

In early June, what was later confirmed to be a tornado came right between our house and our next door neighbors, taking down the 30 foot tree at the edge of our yard and two 50-plus foot trees directly across the street, roots and all, like they were match sticks. The path of destruction was very easy to see as we looked back through the woods toward the houses behind us, then on across the street, with all the downed trees falling in the same direction. The root ball of one of the larger trees directly across from us was taller than the ranch house it just missed when it fell. Yet again, in the space of a few short months, it was one of the craziest weather events I have ever witnessed.

As I recall, it wasn't a horrible day. Maybe a little cloudy. Then seemingly out of nowhere it got very dark and windy very fast. I remember thinking “Could this be a… Nah, tornadoes don't happen here.” Meg's daughter Catherine and I, who were the only ones home, really should have been in the basement at this point. But all either of us could do was look outside and wonder what the heck was happening. As I was looking out the door at the driveway side of the house, hoping the truck would not be hit, I heard that 30 foot tree on the other side coming down. A little scary to think about, actually. In the end we were extremely lucky. No damage to the house or any of our vehicles, and Meg made it home safely (after navigating a maze of detours) with our friend Lynne, from a couple of towns away where they were giving an estimate for their summer gardening business. Our power was out for about three and a half days, but that was minor compared to the damage suffered by many other people in our area.

Then came Hurricane Irene at the end of August. It might have officially only been a tropical storm when it hit us, but that was little consolation to all those on the Connecticut coast who took the full force of the storm, suffering unbelievable damage. Most of the state was left without power. We were out for a little less than two days, but again very lucky compared to many who were out for a week or more.

Finally (hopefully – we still have to go through December), two days before Halloween, a freak snow storm blew in and buried us under nearly a foot of very wet, heavy snow. Some areas north of us got more. And with many leaves having not yet fallen, that meant a LOT more trees coming down and yet another extended power outage for much of the state, with most school systems shutting down for a full week. At one point I joked to Meg, who's a school teacher, that I hoped she was enjoying her April vacation. Somehow she was able to refrain from throwing anything at me.

Unprecedented January snow, a June tornado, an August hurricane and a Halloween Nor' Easter. I guess the locusts missed the memo or we probably would have seen them too. Rough year for sure. But we made it through, thankful for our good fortune and hoping for the best for all those who were hit far worse. Here's to Mother Nature giving us all a big break in 2012!


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