For the past week, the not-often-used term “derecho” (most meteorologists pronounce this “de-rachel”), meaning “land hurricane”, has been on everyone’s lips from Chicago straight through to Washington, D.C. I say the new word hesitantly, as I saw the fast-acting storm pass just to the South and am glad I wasn’t caught somewhere in the middle. It’s not often that we in the rather sedate Midwest have a storm that leaves such a path of destruction. Sure, we have the occasional tornado (take cover when the sky turns green and the hail comes down), but it’s usually just bluster: the newscaster forecasts torrential rain and 80+mph winds followed by the dreaded tornado, but then we have a light sprinkling–barely enough to water the grass.
Even in the worst of circumstances, the local power company typically has everything up and running within a matter of hours, but this “derecho” (I now type the word with both fear and derision) left my elderly grandmother without power in 90-100 degree heat for more than four full days. Luckily, she had family to take her in, but in this storm and power-outage followed by 3 record-breaking days in a row of 100+ degree temperatures, not everyone was so lucky. This left the Chicago heat-related death toll at 18 for 2012 thus far, which is unacceptable, at best, and outrageous, at worst, in what I feel is one of the grandest cities on earth.
My local municipality, the City of Elgin, selflessly sent out city employees for wellness checks to make sure everyone survived the heat; the poor city workers, however, practically melted onto the steaming sidewalk as they went up and down each sidewalk. Bravo, Elgin, for taking the initiative.
So, in a very roundabout manner, I come to back to my original thought process (wow, my students would laugh at my terrible lack of organization): If these past few weeks in Chicago, St. Louis, and well the entire Midwest and now sweeping to the East, is any indication of the global warming yet to come, I should invest in flashlights.
And, I’ll end on a pretty flower from my garden to lighten the somber mood.