The Seattle Storm that Wasn’t

Facing special danger alerts in one’s region.

 

About ten days ago, there was a storm warning in Seattle, Washington State. – A very serious one. There were live inputs on television in and around Seattle on the ‘worst storm of the century’ and ‘the worst storm in fifty years’. Specially the funny one on Alki beach, Seattle where the ‘waves’ were just the usual sea waves seen in the Arabian Sea in June and July. There were power outages expected on a vast scale so people were hoarding up on grocery items and investing in batteries and generators for their homes. Foods, and water was bought and first aid kits replenished. Trees which were appearing to be weak were cut down, and branches which seemed risky were also cut off. Places were cleared of debris lying around, which would be moving around in the ‘high winds expected of over 60 -70 miles per hour’ (over 110 km an hour). Organizations postponed the functions that were to take place on the weekend. There were films shown of the last threatening storms which took place in 2012 when there were power breakdowns of up to six days in places. This time around 11000 homes had power breakdowns. Portland, nearby did have a bit of flooding on roads. The rest were just expecting it. Everyone was anticipating a lot.

I kept on after Nataliya to please cancel the shoot she was to go on, but she stuck to it, the most they did was to push the party an hour earlier to the expected storm. It was expected at 4 pm on Saturday. By the time the birthday party was to start, the time was pushed to 9 pm. So, Nataliya was back by 4.30 pm when I heaved a sigh of relief. When she asked Bilal to get the groceries please, he refused…. You know why? Yes, because of the storm. Meanwhile the ‘client’-cum- friend arrived to make payment for the shoot. Talat came and sat along with her sister Sana. Both were their usual selves with lots of chit chat. I kept looking out of the window, at the mildly swaying trees in the ‘breeze’ and light shower. Finally I said “Why don’t you go home before the storm?” They immediately got up while Talat was saying “Oh yes, we have to go, we are going for a dinner party to Seattle now! Nadia is coming from Duvall too.”

I was shocked. “What?”

They both shrugged their shoulders, saying, “We’ve seen these storm warnings, usually its nothing much.” (Yes, I’d seen one some years ago too) I wonder what would happen, if they got the ‘normal’ bash up which happens in Islamabad, as a routine rain storm. So, I said “fine…” But I was concerned, as I knew, that Nadia had a long drive coming and going back to Duvall which is a bit far,  comparatively. Brave girls, I thought. So, these young girls were all set to have a great evening. “Can’t you have this dinner on next weekend?”

“Oh no,” said Sana, “Nadia has to leave for Pakistan, and its difficult finding time between our jobs.” I nodded. Knowing that Sana lives alone in Seattle, she has worked many years in Microsoft. Tallat, a doctor is working in a hospital here. Nadia is studying to be a nurse and works part time at a rehab place for special and elder people. So, these gorgeous and competent young girls are all very busy. So, the two sisters drove off. Leaving me praying for the storm to not come and for their safety …. “Inna lilla he wa inna illaihe rajiun.” This is the prayer that a Muslim reads during tough times. Aur jab wo museebat mein hotay hein, to wo parhtay hein….“Inna lilla he wa inna illaihe rajiun.”

So, anyhow, I kept looking out. We had our usual tasty dinner made by Nataliya, and had our usual evening enjoying music and chatter.

You can’t have a storm warning and no storm, can you? Well, it was an insipid ‘storm’ and now has become a joke. I had been in a very bad storm once in Karachi, when the city was on red alert.

Why was I in that storm in Karachi? Well, that’s another blog.

I wrote about it, with the title “One Stormy Night” (how else could it have been named????)  😉 It was published in the Women’s Own magazine.

So, anyhow this one was quite funny.

On a serious note, was it the praying that averted the storm? I’m sure many people prayed. Or was it co-incidence? With so much hi-tech systems available, to be so wrong was okay? Yes, it was. If nothing happened, that was good. At least the weather guys did their job and shared whatever information they received. If things came out better in the end, that was good for all. We should be happy for it.

But.

Now, I understand, why when St. Helens’ had a volcanic eruption in May 1980, 57 people died in it. They had  refused to move away. There was mass evacuation done, but these people refused to leave their homes, they didn’t believe anything would actually happen. So, when it did happen, it was too late to run. The volcanic eruption which came was so bad that the entire peak of the mountain was actually blown off in a cloud of mass debris. The trees came down like toothpicks.  In the following pictures you see Mt. Helens the way it looked in 1968. Naturally, no one thought the peak  would just blow off in a volcanic eruption?

mount_st-_helens_one_day_before_the_devastating_eruption

75dede1ef55e21cb204f1bc966e3ccf8jlm-natgeo-mount-st-helens-1980-may-18DCF 1.0

This time, since the ‘storm that wasn’t’ didn’t happen, there was blissfully no damage at all. The only damage that happened was of the credibility of the meteorological departments here in Seattle. It has been badly damaged now. The next storm warning won’t be taken seriously at all now.  

This is why, happy endings of storm warnings should just be cherished and future warnings need to be taken very seriously once again.

Stay blessed and protected, my dear reader. 🙂

 

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