melannen: Commander Valentine of Alpha Squad Seven, a red-haired female Nick Fury in space, smoking contemplatively (Default)
melannen ([personal profile] melannen) wrote2018-09-11 10:51 pm

stormy weather

I am, as you may have been able to predict if you know me, obsessively following the hurricane coverage now that hurricane season has spun up. It looks like my area's going to be on the fringes of this one, but my thoughts are with the people I know in North Carolina.

Also, I have failed to find a good weather podcast. You'd think it's a topic that would have one, since it's something people tend to have as a special interest! But they all seem to be either local forecasts, or more about "being a professional meteorologist" than about *weather*. Or they manage to make hurricanes boring. But I am still working my way through all the results I got in the search engine! The Weather Channel one isn't bad, and if you're currently in the mood for hurricanes, Hurricane Season out of Houston Public Media/NPR is an eight-episode miniseries about the history of hurricanes in the Houston area and it's pretty good.

I'm also reading a book about the history of hurricanes in the mid-Atlantic region and, like a lot of of other stuff I've read on the history of weather, reading about how hurricanes have changed over time is a really interesting perspective on history. I think the thing that's striking me most is that I think of a hurricane as a multi-day event: even for a glancing blow, which is all we've had here in my lifetime, the forecasts of a likely hit come in a week or more out, you start prep several days in advance, you notice as the first edges of the storm come in, the actual day it passes over is a day of just watching the storm, then even for just a tropical storm there are probably road closures, school/work closures, shortages and power/water outages for at least a day or so after that.

In the 18th century it's literally just "a strong gale blew for several hours this afternoon", and then there's cleanup to do, but not a total shutdown. It's a couple hours of wind and rain, and then some extra farm chores the next couple days. No warning of the storm, no knowledge that it's anything more than an unusually strong thunderstorm where the wind changes direction a lot (the spiral pattern didn't even become well-known until the mid-19th century!), and power outages, lack of running water, school and work closures aren't really even relevant. Sometimes lots of roads were blocked or washed out, but that didn't have anything like the effect it did today - people outside of a few trades weren't taking long road journeys every day, or if they were, they were doing with methods like horseback that could go off-road if needed. The worst disruption was mostly to oceangoing shipping, and that was never something to depend on even in good weather. (Also there's a couple hurricanes in that time period that never made landfall, where literally all the record we have is one ship that rode it out, and that ship found wreckage of a couple more over the next few days that were closer to the storm center, and that's all we know.)

So one one hand, it points up just how much more vulnerable we are these days to that kind of disruption.

On the other hand, what happens here after a big storm (unless there's major, major flooding) is basically that we're just thrown back on an 18th century level of living. So it's not, relatively speaking, actually worse that we're so interconnected. And the real impact of those old storms is that they always hit at critical times for harvest, and there were serious threats of local famine over the next winter as a result. That isn't a worry the same way - there will definitely be crop damage, but nobody's going to starve because of it (at least, not on a local level as a direct result of the storm - although who knows going forward...)

Anyway, the real point of this post was to ask if anybody had recs for fanfic to read during a storm weekend - comfort fics with hurricanes or floods or massive thunderstorms or, idk, rains of molten glass. (not snowstorms though, that's its own category.) The only one I could find in my old lists was the old XF classic Skin, which I have probably not re-read in fifteen years, so that'll be an adventure!
landofnowhere: (Default)

[personal profile] landofnowhere 2018-09-12 04:28 am (UTC)(link)
Your discussion of the history of hurricanes reminds me of the book A High Wind in Jamaica, which was written in the 1930s and set in the 1840s. (It is about as racially problematic as you would expect such a book written by someone who had never been to the Caribbean would be, and also should have content warnings for harm to animals and (mostly-implied) pedophilia, but is generally quite well-written and has some good parts unrelated to the above.)

The ten-year-old kind-of-protagonist Emily experiences a small earthquake, which makes a big impression on her and becomes part of her identity: "Once there was a girl named Emily, who was in an earthquake." Then the next day a hurricane strikes out of nowhere and does major damage to her family's house -- but it's not *an event* to her, it's just a storm that's worse than usual.
landofnowhere: (Default)

[personal profile] landofnowhere 2018-09-12 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I remember both that earthquake and the hurricane; I was in Connecticut for the earthquake, and forget if I really noticed it. (I'd been in a noticeable earthquake once before, though I was not fully awake for that one; I just remember been woken up by the sensation of things being shaken). I was in Boston for Irene, and agree it was underwhelming -- though I did get to walk through some impressive winds -- but on the other hand it also delayed my train travel plans for a couple days.
marginaliana: Buddy the dog carries Bobo the toy (Default)

[personal profile] marginaliana 2018-09-12 11:31 am (UTC)(link)
the spiral pattern didn't even become well-known until the mid-19th century - wow, that's really interesting!
ratcreature: RatCreature is thinking: hmm...? (hmm...?)

[personal profile] ratcreature 2018-09-12 07:23 pm (UTC)(link)
The historical storms in the North Sea area seem to have been really disruptive even in the middle ages, and notable in chronicles even though they are not hurricanes. Sometimes ten of thousands died and the whole landscape changed, and some got named too. Actually they seem to become less horrible wrt death counts and destruction as we got better at the whole dike business.
Edited (correcting the autocorrect mess) 2018-09-12 19:24 (UTC)
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[personal profile] ratcreature 2018-09-13 10:47 am (UTC)(link)
That lack of distinction even shows in the words for storms. The bad winter storms are called "Orkan" here, which is also the German word for "hurricane" though more recently you see "Hurrikan" adopted for the spiral ones to make that distinction.