Waiting for the hammer to fall …

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Rock and roll singer/songwriter/guitarist Tom Petty truly nailed the feeling in my neck of the wood right now with a classic tune released back in 1981: the waiting really IS the hardest part. 

At this moment, Hurricane Sandy sits several hundred miles off the Virginia shoreline, churning slowly northwards at about 15 miles per hour.

It’s been widely known for several days now that this massive storm – dubbed the “Frankenstorm” by many meteorological wags – would hit a broad swath of the east coast, threatening some 50 million people and the various towns and cities they reside in.

Yet now, with all the storm supplies bought, the exterior of the home secured, flashlights and mops at the ready, there’s nothing to do but … wait. And wait. And wait some more.

It’s unnerving, really, to know you’re in the crosshairs of such a massive “super storm” with nothing more to do but wait for it to strike. It’s one of those really unlikable traits technological advances now offer humanity: the ability to see trouble coming from a long ways off, via Doppler radar and satellite imagery, yet left with little to do about it.

We can’t pick up our home and move it west, after all: it’s firmly rooted in this particular seam of earth, much like the trees surrounding it. All we can do is hope Mother Nature strikes but a glancing blow, and thus we wait to see what kind of punch she’ll deliver over the next 36 to 48 hours .

[Indeed, as of now, it looks like New Jersey may be the state that takes it on the chin from Sandy and the two other weather fronts combining with it. God speed to all of you in the Garden state tonight and on the nights to follow.] 

Truckers out of the roads, of course, find themselves even more exposed. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) for one is warning motorists of all stripes to stay off the roads, but that might not be an option for truckers tasked with hauling a variety of relief supplies into soon-to-be hit areas. 

Maryland’s State Highway Administration (SHA) noted last night that its highway crews have cleared storm drains, fueled up, stocked up on road signs and are readying chain saws and other equipment to tackle whatever damage Sandy leaves in her wake – including the possibility of significant snow in Western Maryland, due to the convergence of Sandy with a winter storm system coming out of California and a mass of frigid air descending from Canada.

“With leaves still on most trees, significant tree damage and power outages are a major concern,” noted Melinda Peters, SHA’s administrator. “Travelers should expect to encounter road closures due to high water or trees down. Remember, too, a new law enacted Oct. 1 mandates drivers must treat intersections with non-functioning traffic signals as four-way stopsDo not assume you or the other driver has the right-of-way; make eye contact if possible and proceed safely through the intersection.”

It’s going to be a grim few days, that’s for sure. But for those of us in the path of this “super storm,” all that’s left to do is ensure that hatches are battened down one final time … and wait. 

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