Monday, September 17, 2018

Wacky Weather

The first thing we did this morning when we woke up, our lungs heavy with smoke, was check the air quality index. Conditions were once again hazardous, with an AQI of around 450, so the kids caught a ride to school with a neighbour.

Very luckily for us, air doesn't usually sit stagnate in our valley and by mid-morning the winds had shifted and the smoke started to blow away from us, as if our community had collectively stood up and twirled around while chanting, "White rabbit, white rabbit, white rabbit," (which, according to childhood folklore, will chase campfire smoke away from your face).

Our AQI was only around 150 when the children were dismissed from school, which is still considered unhealthy, so I picked the kids (and our neighbour) up from school.

Since it had been a half day and the children (mostly Benjamin) were bouncing off the walls, I thought it would be a good time to make good on my promise to take them swimming because I wasn't very well going to send them outside to play in toxic air (not that our inside air is much better). The pool is in the town north of us, however, and their air has consistently been better than ours so it was lovely to escape the heat and smoke.

When we got home we found Grandpa picking peaches in the front yard.

"We're in the green!" he said happily, which meant our AQI was at or below 50, a good level.

The kids laid out their towels and stretched out in the backyard to finish drying and have been enjoying getting some outside time, though the winds are shifting again and I have a feeling we will be nearly suffocating again soon.

Yesterday our air quality was particularly good, and though there was no rain in the forecast, it rained. We had just gone to pick up some couches from a neighbour down the street (and now we have enough places for our entire family to sit!). Our neighbours had been trying to get rid of them for a couple of days. They'd left them sitting on the driveway with a "FREE" sign on them, but it's been so wildly windy that the sign kept blowing away.

"I even tried safety pinning a sign to them," our neighbour said. "But the wind even ripped that one away!"

We were lucky to have seen the posting so quickly. We've been trying to find a different couch for over a year now.

Anyway, we were just in the process of tossing our old couch cushions down the stairs when Zoë started jumping up and down and yelling, "It's raining! It's raining! It's raining!"

"Yeah," Grandpa said. "It's raining couch cushions!"

"No! It's raining rain!" she squealed.

We all ran outside to see and were delighted to find a rainbow dancing across the sky, where we've grown used to seeing nothing but plumes of smoke.

You can see how windy it's been—the trees are really being whipped around

The rain was nothing short of miraculous, since none had been in the forecast. Since our stake (along with many others in the area) had held a special fast for rain, we heard many people gush about how this was a direct answer to prayer, exaggerating the effects of the rain. One friend even went as far as to say that the fires had been put out entirely (I imagine she was rather bitterly disappointed to wake up this morning to all that smoke). The fires are, in fact, still raging. We're the "number one priority" fire nationwide (it's nice to be ranked best at something...haha...or not).

Still, the rain was miraculous. It had not been in the forecast at all. In fact, our forecast is simply "unseasonably warm" for the foreseeable future. The little sprinkle of rain we got did nothing to quench the flames, so eagerly consuming every dry bit of foliage they come across. But to me, the rain and the rainbow seemed to say, "This, too, shall pass...eventually."

Meanwhile, back in Durham, it's been raining and raining and raining as Hurricane Florence made her way inland after slamming the coast. Wilmington is completely cut off from society and though Durham escaped relatively unscathed, flooding was widespread this morning. Durham Public Schools had buses out when the flooding started so they were late to cancel school (which made a lot of parents rather upset), but I honestly think most people felt they'd already gotten the brunt of the storm. DPS worked over the weekend to clear downed trees from school property and so forth.

Sometimes weather can be surprising.

An alert went out on Facebook asking people to avoid just a "few" flooded roads. *Clears throat*:

• 4400 block of Old Chapel Hill Road
• Interstate 85 near U.S. 15-501
• N. Roxboro Road near Pacific Avenue
• Hillandale Road near W. Carver Street; Hillandale Road near Sprunt Avenue
• Farrington Road near Marvin Drive
• Guess Road near Umstead Road; Guess Road near Broad Street
• Guess Road near Victory Boulevard
• E. Woodcroft Parkway near Carpenter Fletcher Road
• Garrett Road near Old Chapel Hill Road
• Anderson Street near Morehead Avenue
• Angier Avenue near Hoover Road
• Hope Valley Road near Rugby Road
• 3700 Block of Erwin Road
• W. Carver Street near Rose of Sharon Road
• 1600 Kirkwood Drive
• Rippling Stream Road near Peppercorn Street
• 300 W. Club Boulevard
• Academy Road near Durham Chapel Hill Boulevard
• 15-501 near Morreene Road
• Cole Mill Road near Nancy Rhodes Drive
• N. Gregson Street near Green Street
• Shoccoree Drive near Cole Mill Road
• 3200 block of Cole Mill Road
• Durham Chapel Hill Boulevard near Garrett Road
• Avondale Drive near Foushee Street
• Neal Road near American Drive
• 4300 Block of Farrington Road
• 1200 Remington Circle
• E. Morehead Avenue near S. Roxboro Street
• 1500 N. Duke Street
• 1412 Woodland Drive
• University Drive near E. Forest Hills Boulevard
• Academy Road near Pickett Road
• Dover Road near Rugby Road
• 400 block of Queen Street
• Surrey Road near Hathaway Drive
• 1200 N. Alston Avenue
• Sterling Drive near Umstead Road
• 1100 Rock Street
• Durham Chapel Hill Boulevard near Tower Boulevard
• Guess Road near Carver Street
• Buchanan Boulevard near Englewood, Knox, Urban, Minerva, and Wilkerson Streets
• Old Oxford Hwy near Infinity Road
• 4800 S. Roxboro Street
• 3000 block E. Weaver Street
• 100 block E. Woodridge Drive
• 1200 E. Club Boulevard
• N. Mineral Springs near Highway 98
• Picket Road near Pine view Circle; Picket Road near Hulon Drive
• 1800 block Albany Street
• Hillandale Road near Rose of Sharon Road; Hillandale Road near Horton Road
• Dearborn Drive near Club Boulevard

Reading this list made me giggle with anxiety as I imagined how I would possibly get anywhere. I mean, the only places I ever drove to were church, school, soccer, and the library (and I had just one way I would go; detours are not my friend). Reading this list had me wondering how I'd get to any of those places.

The real kicker is that Infinity Road was destabilized with all the flooding and will be closed for the next few months. That's the main thoroughfare for our neighbourhood, which will mean some real out-of-the-way detours for anyone who wants to get pretty much anywhere.

So while our beloved Durhamites are doing their best to keep dry, we're over here pining for even a hint of rain on the horizon.

And then there's Typhoon Mangkhut, which ripped through the Philippines and then crashed into China (where my friend, who teaches English there, caught some excellent footage of its destruction), not to mention the many other wild things happening in our mad, mad, mad, mad world (tornadoes in the Carolinas and Virginia as Hurricane Florence makes her way north, etc).

1 comment:

  1. What a pretty rainbow picture! Yeah, that's quite a list of a "few" roads to avoid in Durham....ha!