I is for Irene

Irene is one of those semi-popular names in the US, 16th most popular among girls’ names at its peak in 1918 and 1919, 684th in 2010.

Irene has also been designated as a possible hurricane name by the World Meteorological Organization. “The Atlantic is assigned six lists of names, with one list used each year. Every sixth year, the first list begins again.” Things before 1978 weren’t quite so neat and tidy, so Irene was eligible to be a hurricane name in 1959, 1963, 1967, and 1971. While Irene was unused in 1987 and in 1993, there were actually hurricanes named Irene in 1981, in 1999 and in 2005.

2011’s Hurricane Irene caused great damage, as you have probably heard. Albany County was among several in upstate New York designated as disaster areas. Our property only lost some tree limbs. But the storm was life-complicating.

As I’ve noted, my wife and daughter traveled down to Charlotte, NC August 24 to visit my sister and niece. One track of Irene would have come quite close to Charlotte, but the storm stayed on the coast, fortunately. Unfortunately, it traveled up the coast, and while it largely spared New York City, it walloped parts of New Jersey, Vermont and upstate New York.

The problem was that the family was supposed to take the train back from Charlotte to Albany on August 31, but the trip was canceled by Amtrak, likely because of possible damage, or fear of same, to the tracks in New Jersey and elsewhere.

They couldn’t drive back because of washed out roads. So they got a flight. Or three:
From Charlotte Douglas Intl Airport (CLT)
Departs: 08/31/2011 at 11:40 A.M. To
Baltimore/Washington Intl Thurgood Marshall Apt (BWI)
Arrives: 08/31/2011 at 1:09 P.M.
From BWI
Departs: 08/31/2011 at 4:37 P.M. To
Philadelphia Intl Airport (PHL)
Arrives: 08/31/2011 at 5:26 P.M.
From PHL
Departs: 08/31/2011 at 9:10 P.M. To
Albany Intl Airport (ALB)
Arrives: 08/31/2011 at 10:31 P.M.

Yes, that’s 3 hours, 39 minutes of flying time over an 11-hour stretch. That is what you’re left with – let’s not even talk about the cost – when one books a flight the day before.

Of course, many people had it a WHOLE lot worse! For a mild for instance, my brother-in-law Dan and his family, about an hour south of us in Greene County, NY, lost a bunch of stuff in the basement. Getting around was difficult because the roads that were either flooded or washed out altogether; the schools started a week late, as much because of the impassable roads as the damage to the buildings. Those of you who know upstate geography will appreciate this: the fastest way currently to get from Catskill to Oneonta is going through Albany.

I feel a little testy about the notion that NYC overprepared; it was a hurricane, FCOL!

And there will be more storms that travel further north, because of the warmer Atlantic waters.

I wonder if Irene’s name will be retired. “The only time that there is a change is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for obvious reasons of sensitivity. If that occurs, then at an annual meeting by the WMO…the offending name is stricken from the list and another name is selected to replace it.”

Check out some Vermont devastation HERE and HERE and HERE, collected by long-time VT resident, and my buddy, Steve Bissette.

(And I won’t even get into the subsequent destruction of Tropical Storm Lee, which did damage from the Gulf Coast to upstate New York this past week, as this video from Binghamton, NY, my hometown, will attest.)


ABC Wednesday – Round 9

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29 thoughts on “I is for Irene

  1. We drove back from our trip to Alabama in the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee on Labor Day. It was quite the experience. When we hit dry pavement, we wanted to get out and kiss the ground. Your satellite view looks like our February snowstorm!

  2. Irene was quite the inconvenience for all of us and while I was very lucky to be spared (living in NYC),it touched all of us in so many ways. My daughter was trying to lease a new car…all deliveries were held…insurance companies would not issue new policies until the hurricane passed… My heart goes out to all whose lives were hurt and burdened by the insane winds and water and the havoc that ensued. I mean no disrespect. My point is how these things interfere on so many levels with everyday life.

  3. I really had no idea how severe and devestating these storms were. Out here on the West Coast the news just made it a blip on the radar. So sorry. I’m glad your family made it home safely but what an ordeal.

  4. It was Inevitable some people (perhaps especially you) would use “I is for Irene”! As for NYC over-preparing, maybe the timing had something to do with it, subconsciously. Think about it…with the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, for which of course everyone was completely unprepared, maybe it was natural for the city to overreact to the oncoming storm. Just a thought. The psychology of mega-cities, now there’s a subject for post-grad work.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  5. Thankfully, I’ve never experienced a hurricane or a tornado. However, while living in Ottawa for a few years, I did get caught in some summer lightning storms and once lightning hit a few of our neighbours’ homes. We were spared! I think the worst storm ever here in the past years was a wind storm that destroyed many parts of Stanley Park in the city. That was devastating because the trees were hundreds and hundreds of years old.

    Leslie
    abcw team

  6. Much death destruction and devastation due to natural distasters. It is hard to imagine when people have not experienced it!! Watching it on TV was overwhelming and distressful!!

  7. Hi Roger! Interesting, Irene caused a lot of rain in our part of the world! It’s a beautiful name. One of our Queen’s sister is called Irene.Her name means Peace, she was born just for the war.
    Your post is very educational and interesting! Thank you Roger!

  8. The air times are horrendous, just the reason I love train travel. Glad you, and New York, survived Irene. We get the remnants of tropical storms here, usually in September and October, at the moment Katia has just finished giving us 80 mph winds.

  9. A west coaster, I’ve hung out with two hurricanes, Carla and Hugo. I avoided disaster, for the most part, but the surrounding damage was incredibly heartbreaking. Excellent and timely post.

  10. Oh, I’m sorry you were in the path of Irene. It was a monster. I followed it on CNN and The Weather Channel. I’m really addicted to real life weather and other disaster programs. After 9/11 I had to consciously make myself stop watching. It was really taking over my life. I do love to watch a good storm, but didn’t realize how dangerous they were when we first moved here from England. We often put ourselves in dangerous situations which we didn’t realize until afterwards. England doesn’t/didn’t have the potential for such dangerous weather. I could write a few stories about those near misses. Glad you’re OK and thanks for your faithfulness in visiting.

  11. I didn’t know that hurricane names revolve and get used again…very interesting information in your post, Roger. We live in such a sheltered valley and I cponsider myself very lucky not to have experienced such violent weather.

  12. Wayne County was “kissed” by Irene, we didn’t even get any rain, and “caressed” by Lee. I have had a continual crop of dead sticks and branches in my yard, but otherwise Irene was almost invisible. Not so far away she left indescribable devastation and “Tropical Storm” Lee was just as relentless.

  13. We don’t have hurricanes, generally, but caught the tail end of Irene (name of my one-time best friend!!) The coastal regions had heavy weather but we’re well inland and had strong winds and that’s all. We are grateful to be spared!

  14. I agree that is is better to be over prepared. Being a lover of adventure, I love being in storms and experiencing the forces of nature. That is because I have never been hit close to him and lost many things. Then it become a whole different ball game. My heart goes out to those who lost so much.

  15. Over-prepared or over-hyped Irene? Insanity to say that. If the authorities had NOT done everything possible and Irene had been worse, the pundits would also squawk. Looks to me like there’s no way to do anything “right” any more in your country: someone will always find a reason to criticize. Sorry to hear about your woes, Roger, but you lived to tell about them. And that is a good thing.

  16. I can imagine that there would be a lot of need for ottawa paving since it went right through the area. I heard that there are not only heavy damages done to homes, but even sidewalks and roads and things. I hope for those peoples.

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