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Monday, August 3, 2015

Storm Front

39 years ago we had a huge storm that resulted in what I call the Colorform Debacle of 1976 which resulted in one of my more entertaining Facebook notes. There have had zero storms of that magnitude right over Traverse City... until yesterday.

photo by Keegan Meyes. Used by permission

Yesterday when the green portion of this cell went over the hotel where I was working, I freaked out but not as much as when I was a kid. And since I am in charge I had to keep it more together than 6 year old me. I watched from the second story window overlooking the parking lot. I was looking for debris in the air. As I watched, the young maple at the head of the drive bent like a palm tree, it's downward growing branches wrenched upright.

When I came downstairs to gather crew and answer guest questions, everyone was a little panicky. So, as I am prone to do, I made a cheeky comment. "Where is Richard Armitage's butt when you need an anchor?" Only one of 6 people got my Into the Storm reference.

All I can say is that I am very glad that we did not experience the movie in it's truest sense. And I feel like I really should have known it was coming. The entire crew was sluggish for a good two hours before the storm hit. The air was heavy, the A/C was on and cranking but it felt like we were trying to freeze a dragon's throat! As I went up the stairs to get a look out of a second floor window I lost my breath.

There are a lot of things that let you know the storm will be bad. Dad rattled them off all the time when the sky threatened. The one that gives you the best warning if you are paying attention is the loss of breath. At some point the barometer drops and the air is moist enough that your lungs, for a split second, panic and you feel like you will suffocate. That is when you seek shelter. When you hear the freight train it is almost too late.

I'd had a barometric pressure headache for a while at that point. And it intensified for a few minutes. But when the green of that cell, which had gone from a Mountain Dew color to the color of a deep green glass bottle sitting in the shade, came over the hotel everything changed again. My adrenaline kicked in and I started rounding everyone up. It was intense.

The second that the adrenaline kicked in the headache was gone. And it hasn't been back even though the conditions this morning are still rather ideal for those kinds of headaches.

The hotel had no damage and we had no injuries so on that front all was well. Surrounding the property the neighborhoods were hit with very intense straight line winds. Guests watching the storm from the bank of windows shared stories of the adventure in crossing town from dinner to base camp. The 1.5 mile trip from the restaurants to our location on the strip was, to use a cliche, frought with peril.

Today, the day after, the town of Glen Arbor is closed. Glen Arbor sits at the base of the Sand Dunes that I wrote about recently. It sits in a little basin between the Dunes and the hills of the Homestead Resort property at Port Oneida point. When the storm cell came over the Dunes that drop from the first hill was enough of a gravity well to intensify the storm. On the lake side the Dunes have a 435 foot reach from shore to tip. On the Glen side the drop from the first Dune is about 100 feet. So the winds rushed up the face of the Dunes (gathered intensity) then the bottom dropped out as it zipped the scant 2 miles across the top of the Dunes. The energy was dispersed on the sleepy little town during the dinner hour on a busy tourist season Sunday.

Local papers report the entire community of Glen Arbor is cut off by downed trees on every single access road around either the Big or Little Glen Lake. No reports on extent of the damage to buildings or injury reports yet. Undoubtedly Pierce Stocking Drive suffered major damage along its pathway. Many old trees in town were uprooted, entire root balls lifted sidewalk. And that was without the benefit of several days worth of soaking rain as we have seen in the south this Summer. Pierce Stocking I am certain will have trees down with some damage done to the roadway. No idea how long it will take Park Officials to present their full assessment. But like I said in that last post, it's a trecherous area to be in when the weather turns foul.

Makes me wonder how Uncle Ole and his family really fared in Port Oneida. Farming can not be an easy thing when the weather gets like this. It is an idyllic farm setting on the best of days. But what is it like when the weather starts getting rough?

Perhaps I will take a drive out to see how the old farmstead fared in a couple of days. It will be interesting to see the before and after effects. It is rather interesting to note the before and after in myself.

When that storm hit when I was six I had nightmares for years. every storm made me paranoid and sick to my stomach. Now, almost 40 years later, I actually look forward to these kinds of events. I wonder if it is all the Weather Channel I have been exposed to as a hotel worker or if it is that I have a better developed "MacGyver" sense for being able to make quick assessments and execute plans. Some would say that you just grow out of those kinds of fears. Not me. I haven't grown out of my snake fears so I don't subscribe to the maturity resolution. Knowledge really must be the answer, the "wiser" part of the old equation. I know what is happening, I know what things I can do to make it okay and I am vigilant. No storm is gonna sneak up on me.

Though, it would be nice to have Richard Armitage around just in case.

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