Friday, June 29, 2012

When weather forecasters and their warnings fail us

June 29. 2012

It was almost 100 degrees all afternoon. This old man is neither English or mad so he doesn't go out in the noonday sun. I'm a slow learner but I learned to respect the summer sun as a young fellow.

So, I was alternating between a golf tournament and the end of "Gone in 60 seconds." Suddenly the wife bolts into the room and tells me to look out the window behind me. I did as she asked and was shocked to see the tree in our front yard swaying heavily in the high winds that came out of nowhere. Dead branches were strewn here and there beneath it and still green leaves filled the windward blasts.

We both headed for the patio door, fearing what we might find as we did. Would the awning be tattered shreds? Would it still be attached to the house? It was neither of those but it was being mightily tested. It has stood up to 30 MPH gusts several times this year. It hasn't been rolled up for over a month. I've discovered that it can handle stiff winds and heavy rains so long as one side of it has been lowered to keep the rain moving downward toward one end.

BUT ... it can't hold up to 65 and 70 MPH straight line winds. All four of the large Hibiscus plants were blown over and starting to roll out into the yard. Patio chairs and cushions were sliding toward the east side of the patio. The dog came outside with us just in case some play ensued. The flying furniture and flapping awning sent him back toward the door with his tail between his legs. I was tempted to join him but I must try to salvage our Sunsetter.

I made the mistake of unlocking one of the side supports in preparation for rolling the awning up. The wind gusts tried to beat me to death or at least break one of my fragile bones, so I locked the side bar back again. Then I tried lowering first one side adjustment and then the other, trying to reduce the underneath area of awning which the wind could affect, thereby decreasing the stress on the whole assembly. That seemed to help a little. Maureen held down one side while I held down the other. We managed to keep it from bucking so violently, hoping that the winds would subside shortly. I don't know know how long we held on but as we hoped, the wind did diminish somewhat and I was ready to try rolling the awning up again.

I asked Gail to go around the front of the awning roll-bar and to try to keep it from raising up to quickly by leaning as heavily on it as she possibly could. Then I inserted the crank handle in its socket and unlocked the sidebar again, instructing Maureen to do the same to her side. I started cranking and the awning, even though it had sustain some damage on my side, began to roll up. I was thrilled beyond words as it finally moved up against the house. With that I was able to straighten the damaged pieces somewhat. It was enough for now. I would take a closer look at the damage tomorrow and see if I might affect a better repair.

As soon as I was able to slow down and catch my breath, my mind went to thoughts of our local weather casters. Where were they as the threatening storm front approached our area? They had never hesitated to interrupt our regular television programs for the smallest storm. Steve Riley should have been there on my screen long before the first strong gusts caused our awning to flap even a little. They used to sound the sirens when a strong thunderstorm approached but they said that was causing too much confusion and decided that it would only be sounded in the event of a tornado threat.

So here we were, as the mercy of the awful winds. A tree in our neighbor's back yard was snapped in half. OK ... it was a dead tree. Too many birds perching in it might have brought it down. Still, there's no excuse for this to happen here.

Many homes lost power. Trees were down all over the place. That's probably what caused the loss of power to all those homes. Thank God our power stayed on. No air conditioned house to retreat to when we got overheated from trying to save the awning and our plants and our patio furniture. Good Grief Charlie Brown!

I really am more ticked off than I sound here about the lack of weather warnings.
First the Supreme Court allows ObamaCare to survive.
Then CNN gets the initial report about the decision concerning it WRONG.
What's the world coming to?
I hope all of you got through the winds and storms unharmed. No real damage to house or other personal property.
I guess we'll live and limp along with a bent up awning support frame ... but we will not be happy for a spell. We have our health and one another. That's enough!

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