Winter of Change [January 2014]
Emma sat at the kitchen table looking out the window, it was mid December of 2013. The weather forecast was calling for high winds, and snow squalls
heavy at times depending if you were under one of them or not. Emma looked at the sky to the west it was a beginning to show signs that something was
on the way. This looks bad she said. There had been bad storms, increasingly bad but this one looked like it was like the storm that hit in the
summer. She had never seen anything like that one in her 27 years of life. Jim what do you think, Emma had an eerie sense that things would never be
the same. The clouds were rolling in faster now and in the distance she thought she heard thunder and a brief flash of lightening, in winter?
“I am worried” she said to Jim, her husband of 6 years. They had married young and were expecting their first child when they married. Their
second child, a boy came along 2 years later. “These storms have been getting wilder and more intense I have noticed since summer when the
lightening is so close and the thunder booms and rattles the house. The rain is like the heavens open up and let loose, eighty plus milimetres in two
hours, that was crazy”. She remembered thinking what if that was snow, how much snow would that be? “We used to get storms that were scary in
the past but these are really starting to rattle my nerves” she said. It wasn’t just where she and her family lived, it was everywhere, people all
over were getting hammered by the weather.
What if the power goes out and we have no way to run the sump pump and it ruins the basement, what will we do? Jim finished his sandwich and pulled
up a chair beside her and told her not to worry and let her nerves get the best of her. “We’ve had bad storms before and pulled through, this
will be no different”. You know I am prepared, I have wood for the stove, food in the freezer and gas for the snow blower and remember I bought and
hooked up a generator last month, so whatever happens we are ready. With that he cleaned up his dishes and headed out the door. “Hon, I will see
you later, I have to get this job finished before Friday or we won’t have payment on the contract”. “Alright, Jim, but I don’t like the looks
of this system coming in”.
The storm was over 100 kms away but the pressure had changed and Emma had a headache. She wondered if she should go get the kids out of school,
Kristy was in grade 2 and Ryan in kindergarten and the school was 30 minutes away by bus. She wanted to bring them home where at least she knew where
they are and that they were safe, she shrugged it off and told herself she was being paranoid and like Jim said everything would be ok, she hoped.
Jim was listening to the radio on his way back to his job. “Oh boy, right now this looks like it might be a doozy, the two day-time hosts were
bantering. Come on back in a couple of hours and we will have an update on the weather” “I guess our forecasters have a revision of this storm
and are putting the details together for you and we will be the first to bring this to you at 3”. In the meantime why don’t you sit back and
listen to a little “White Christmas” to get you ready for the season.
“I’m dreaming of a White Christmas…”
Jim shut off the radio, he wasn’t really in the Christmas mood, times were tight and he had a deadline to meet or there wouldn’t be any Christmas
at the Blackwood’s house this year. I wonder what the update will be, he thought to himself, hoping that the news would be that the storm had taken
a different path and would not impact himself and his family as bad as the first forecast had been. Yeah that’s it he said they have revised it
down and it won’t be that bad.
Jim pulled up to the new community centre where he was contracted to install the H-Vac system and went inside. As he was going from his car to the
door, he thought “My that air seems to have chilled quite a bit and the wind seems stronger”. He didn’t notice the snowflakes starting to
NOAA Weather Station…
The meteorologists were looking at the latest satellite data and were compiling a special weather statement. By all intents this was urgent and they
had to get it out by 3. The satellite had been malfunctioning and delaying their ability to update the status of the storm that would sweep over the
Doug looked at Bill and shook his head, “Bill I can say in all my years putting a warning together, I have never seen anything like this” “If
this data is correct, we have a situation that is going to affect millions of people from the West to East from the pole to the 30th parallel. We
have 3 weather systems converging in the mid-west spreading in both directions and dipping down to north Florida”. This system is full of moisture
from the oceans, east and west and polar air from the north. When these systems meet, it is just going to spin out with the isobars contracting
bringing winds that are hurricane force. The blizzard of biblical proportions is in the making going on for over a two weeks. The temperatures will
approach -50 for extended periods. These poor people have no clue of the extent that their ability to survive will be tested. Bill replied, “I
know it is not good and this is not just a short lived storm, this is a monster and going to probably kill a lot of our population and there is
nothing we can do but get the warning out”. Doug put his hands together over his face and said “I hope the power stays on long enough to get the
Emma sat down at her computer, she also had work that needed to be done and a deadline to meet. She worked from home and really enjoyed the freedom
that gave her. She was so thankful that she was able to have a helper come in and watch the kids while she did her online work. Her computer was
also the lifeline to the outside world.
She brought up the NOAA website and thought she would check on the storm that was coming and if there were any updates. What she saw nearly knocked
her off her chair. The update was URGENT and North America wide. How often does that happen she wondered? As she read the notice she began to
tremble. Worst storm in hundreds of years…snow to depths of 10 feet in some areas…winds of hurricane 3 strength…lasting 2 weeks or more…take
cover, prepare now…this will begin this afternoon and only worsen as days pass…
Just as she was processing the magnitude of this warning, the lights on her monitor flickered twice and went out. She had time left on her laptop
battery but how long would that last and did she have time to warn her family if they did not know and would they even see her warning. Emma quickly
put an email together and sent to her family hoping they would see it or already knew of the situation that was imminent and life threatening. Her
next thoughts were her kids and husband, she had to get them home and had to tell Jim it was bad and that he better get home, the money doesn’t
matter but their lives did.
She looked at her laptop and shut it down, conserving what energy it had left, life never would be the same, that for sure was now apparent to her and
now she wondered if they would all survive the storm.