From Drought to Storms

I fully acknowledge that runners of all times and eras have dealt with weird weather; it’s a part of our reality. What makes modern day Anthropocene running a bit different is that weather extremes have been shown to be related now to AGW rather than the previous natural sort of patterns that have always existed. So we have those natural patterns but now experience more intense and freak storms on top of that, which makes things interesting!

Our spring and summer heat waves and drought, preceded by declining snow packs, are one issue. When we finally got some good rain last weekend, it was accompanied by a windstorm. Trees had been stressed by the drought, and, still having full leaves that acted like “wind sails,” the trees were very vulnerable to this wind, which reached 90km an hour. This happened last Saturday. All in all, half a million BC Hyrdo customers lost power, some for days, due to wind-blown trees and powerlines.

This windstorm happened last Saturday. In the morning it was raining, and I had some cleaning to do–plus started a crockpot fajita recipe I had learned about from a dentist assistant the day before. Before leaving for my morning run, the power went out and I was hearing some major wind outside. I went out to secure items that would blow around on the back deck and the front balcony. My husband was out helping some friends move. By the time I went on my run–over to Como Lake–the rain had ended for the most part. Sprinkles fell during the first part of my run, and then the sun appeared just a bit. The wind was atrocious–branches were down all over the trail around the lake, and it felt like an obstacle course. Small debris began stinging my eyes, too. I had not brought a cap to wear, and finally quit at just over two miles. I had wanted to run twice that but also planned to hike/walk a 5K later in the day. By the time I got back home, I showered and then went on my planned walk. I figured I could go lunch at the little taco place next to the organic market, walk to a doctor’s lab appointment, and then back home. Altogether, this was about a 5K hike. But as I neared the town centre, I realized two things: everywhere else was without power too and traffic was backed up completely. It seemed like everyone in the world wanted to get to a place with power, either to buy stuff or just be around others. Store owners had either shut their places down, or, in the case of a bakery, were allowing cash customers. Others had closed their doors and hung around outside. And others were walking around too, despite the crazy wind stinging eyes and the fallen trees and branches. I theorized that when power goes out, people just want to be around others. A community type spirit arose among those who were walking around. The traffic, on the other hand, seemed impatient and frustrated. What a statement of humankind, to want to escape the off-grid areas only to hop in cars to drive to other areas equally off-grid, creating a circus of bumper-to-bumper vehicles where power still exists within.

I ended up back home about an hour later, finished cooking the fajitas on the grill, and then just relaxed off-grid. My cell still had power, but I didn’t want to drain the battery. I checked BC Hydro’s site, which usually shows maps of power outages, but the site was completely down. The news said that 500,000 in the area were without power and trees were down all over the lower mainland. A neighbor told me he thought he had heard glass shatter and a tree fall, and was it behind our house? We were lucky to get only fallen branches in our yard. I dunno–it was just a freak weather event that nobody really could foresee happening as it did when it unfolded. When my husband got home, I lit candles and we played a round of Scrabble and then a round of Catan. It was nice playing games like that!

Since then, we’ve finally gotten some rain, nearly every day. Runs have been cool and beautiful, including one run on Monday morning where I got completely drenched. Now the weather for the next two weeks is supposed to be dry again, sunny, and cooler, with the highs reaching about 20 max–wonderful running weather!

But, as I look back at the week, I see where we could be more prepared on days that the area goes off-grid (some people are still without power, though ours came back on Sunday morning around 2:00 a.m.). One area is food. I was more worried about food going bad than anything; luckily we have a deep freeze that kept our food cold enough for the 15 hours or so we were without power (so many were out for 30+ hours). Second, which I usually stay prepared on, is keeping my cell charged and my laptop charged. Turns out I didn’t use the laptop at all when our power was out, but did use the cell now and then for news updates. Third: candles, flashlights, lighters–which we keep handy and within reach. Fourth: recognizing the power of wind and falling trees. It was probably a little dangerous to go walking around like I did, but I was not fully aware at the time just how powerful the windstorm was. Fifth: Having games to play was a good past-time. Not needing to be hooked up was a refreshing thing, and I don’t think that we should expect to always have to be wired. Finally–when running, take a cap of some sort. I hadn’t because it had stopped raining, but know now that when it’s super windy like that, the cap can help keep debris out of your eyes.