a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Monday, February 8, 2010

Bracing for Son of Stormageddon

Washington County Public Safety Director Jeff Yates watches a National Weather Service webinar today predicting the Son of Stormageddon to arrive Tuesday as the region digs out from a snowstorm disaster.

By Scott Beveridge

WASHINGTON, Pa. – The webinar today with emergency management folks from the tri-state area and the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh left everyone with a knot in their stomachs.

Another heavy snowstorm is approaching, one with the potential to cause a disaster worse than the one that followed “Stormageddon” on Friday and Saturday and left thousands of houses without heat and electricity.

The trees and many utility wires are still wrapped in thick ice and snow, and this new storm expected at 10 a.m. tomorrow will surely cause more, possibly worse destruction, Washington County Public Safety Director Jeff Yates said this afternoon.

“I can’t even fathom where we are going with this,” Yates told the Observer-Reporter newspaper this morning.

Yates, who has had little sleep since Friday, actually buried his face in his hands at the news. I wanted to drop an F-bomb. An emergency management official chimed in and said, "That's a big-ass storm."

“Buckle up,” Weather Service Meteorologist Rich Kane said during his webinar presentation when he predicted 9 to 13 inches by Saturday “double barrel” storms. Within the hour, his forecast changed to the possibility of 10 to 14 inches of snow.

This could not have come at a worse time.

Twenty-five percent of the county is still without power from the last storm that dropped as many as 2 feet of snow in the region. Yates also confirmed my suspicion that the Mon Valley, where I live, suffered the brunt of the storm.

It looks as if a tornado ripped through there, as hundreds of large trees have been uprooted by the weight of the snow. One local fire chief said today it will take the rest of the year to clean up the damage.

The power has yet to be restored to my house, but a natural gas fireplace and heater have kept the temperature there about 58 degrees at night during single-digit temperatures. However, the water pipes are now frozen in the bathroom so I probably will be boiling water to clean up in the bathtub. Lights some candles. I’m feeling the ambience.

As for the cat that I rescued from a neighbor’s house last night; it quit shivering and crying and seemed, at last check, to be adjusting to its new digs. However, I am not in a rush to go home once more to a dark, chilly house, especially now having worries that tomorrow’s storm might keep it in the dark for days to come.

The snow-coated Donora-Webster Bridge five days after Stormageddon arrived in southwestern Pennsylvania.

No comments: