Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Vagaries of Wind and Weather

Vagaries of Wind and Weather
            Egads! Another hurricane! Last week Hurricane Norberto blew past,  waved “hello” and left unwelcome gifts of havoc. This week, Hurricane Odile, not to be left behind, followed the same path. Fortunately, we in Mazatlan experienced only the side effects. When speaking of weather, it is a horrible thing to say we are lucky. When hail strikes the plains, one wheat farmer is wiped out and the neighbor’s fields go unscathed. Weather isn't “fair”.

Our particular neighbor is Cabo San Lucas and the entire southern Baja Peninsula. On the map, Mazatlan is situated due east. Like I said, we got the side effects. People, homes and businesses on the Baja were devastated. Two weeks in a row! Enough!

I went out this morning to see what I could see. Waves crashed against the sea walls, leaped over into the street. Beach access streets were flooded. There is not a palapa left on the beach. Many waterfront structures sustained wind and water damage; others destroyed and carried out to sea. We will experience the angry ocean, wind and rain for a few more days. Until it is safe to walk onto the beach, I will not be able to see the extent of the damage.

The wind howled all night but we didn't lose power. My little apartment is safe, at least from this sideways storm. If Mazatlan were to be hit with the eye of a hurricane, I have no idea what I would do. In Montana, I was prepared for any emergency. Here I haven’t even a lantern. No life jacket. No extra food. Or extra water. I do have a bathing suit. But I don’t swim.

I had already written an article when I got word the hurricane was on the way. Same title: Vagaries of Wind and Weather. But I deleted the entire content and started over. Something as momentous as Hurricane Odile must be acknowledged; must be paid homage.

My opening paragraph, polished to a gleam, was to describe the nights of rock and roll, the rumble and crash of thunder drums and flashes of light across the vast stage of shore and sea, the opening of heaven’s floodgates. I thought it poetic. What I had written paled next to the threat of hurricane.  

A knock on my door. Instant fear. Evacuation notice?  No. A friend, knowing I had intended hopping the bus out to Cerritos for a grilled red snapper, stopped by to tell me to stay put. Cerritos is on the point, about twenty minutes north of my house. I love to treat myself, to pick a fish fresh from the boat and watch the cook slap it whole on the grill.  “No, don’t go. It is dangerous to be out. Wind is high and the waves are pounding the beach. Those little huts at Cerritos could tumble down.”

I looked at the notes I had written, notions to include in my article. I wanted to mention my experiences of the monsoon season in this humid sub-tropical country of alternating dry and wet months. I had it all arranged in my mind to talk about the lush herbage with the onset of the rains, the flowers year round, clusters larger than hubcaps, heavy morning dew. Truth to tell, I no longer found those mundane things interesting, not with coconut palms touching earth outside my window.

Truth to tell, I was scared. I thought about Montana weather, how it can turn vicious and attack without provocation. One more time, I checked the radar image of Hurricane Odile. She was still on a straight heading for Los Cabos. I thought about unseasonal snowfall last week across Montana. That did not improve my spirits. I remembered that I would have no idea what to do if Odile did an about face and headed to our coast. My fear ramped up to terror. I remembered that I had let my cell phone run out of minutes because I never used it anyway. Muy stupido.

I went outside and leaned into the wind, imagined I could hear the surf two blocks away. I flipped through the most recent storm tracking reports and pictures. Reluctantly, I shut down my computer, turned out the lights and went to bed.

I’d like to say I slept. I’d like to say I didn't go to the door every couple hours to check that my house was still standing. Without so much as a pause, Tropical Storm Polo is forming off the coast of southern Mexico, is expected to follow the same path as Norberto and Odile, as if on a freeway. My hope is that Polo fizzles out and veers into the open ocean. Enough! Enough!

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

September 18, 2014

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