The calm before the storm is a real phenomenon, not just a cliché. Last night as I walked the dogs for the last time, the leaves were as still as those in a painting. It’s as though the forest is holding its collective breath. Even the crickets and the cicadas were silent.
Hurricane Ernesto is going to sweep up through Roundtop and past my cabin today and tonight. I’ve seen quiet like this before. I’ve seen it after the one tornado that careened past the base of the mountain came through. I saw it the day before a winter hurricane dropped 3 feet of snow on the mountain and blasted by with 70 mph winds. It’s as though these big storms suck away all the air flow in an entire region, pulling it into their own storm system. The result creates this area of calm ahead of them.
The current forecast for my area doesn’t sound terrible, but I’m wary. The last time the forecast was for 3-5 inches of rain, I ended up with 15” of rain. My basement was good for the first 11”. After that I was in trouble, especially when the sump pump broke at 13” into the storm. So last evening I bought a new sump pump and all the necessary accoutrements. I also bought a battery-powered pump in case the electricity goes out. I’m as ready as I can be.
If the storm stays within its predicted rain level, I (and my basement) will be fine. I might even be out looking for “hurricane birds.” Birds (and likely other animals as well) respond to the lowering air pressure by heading inland and to safety. It’s not uncommon to find coastal birds on the Susquehanna River or on area ponds during big storms. It’s one of the few benefits these storms can bring with them. This morning, I’ve been seeing many small flocks of common birds floating around, no doubt seeking food and shelter and being far more active than is typical for this time of day.
In the meantime I’m waiting for the storm, trying to create my own area of calm ahead of its path. Waiting and watching is all I can do.