Sunday, July 6, 2014

A GPS Tempest

It may be quite a blog folly to represent my highway travel along and through a storm with handheld, geo-positioning technology. But to my mind the visuals of the highway are less interesting -the rush of vehicles, the monotony of pavement. I chronicle the birth of a tropical storm just to the southeast of my earthly coordinates -represented by the blue and white dot in the fourth image. On July three I begin my northward journey via I95, a road which coarsely follows the coastline and parallels the typical path of storms like Arthur. Humans, currents, coastlines, atmospheric pressures all following the same path. 

Outer bands of hurricanes can often fool the spectator. We expect wind, but there is little to none, yet certain quadrants develop stronger storms and in the south they often spawn tornados. It was night, heavy thunderstorms were building rapidly over northern North Carolina, just an hour or so before the Virginia line. Scanning the radar, my concern grew over two cells that were developing just to the east of I95. These aren't the typical tornado radar signatures, in fact they had little in common with those -but something about them was menacing and I pulled off at the next exit ramp to study the situation.

I had the radio on, which was then interrupted by meteorological talk, talk of tornados in this county and that county. At one point they stated that a large and dangerous tornado is on the ground, but then backpedaled, while continuing to wait for reports and issue NWS warnings. If it weren't for my handheld, I'd have to dig into roadmaps to decipher which county I was even traveling through! As it turns out, two tornado warnings (issued when there is a confirmed sighting or when radar signatures suggest a possible tornado) were issued for the region just two miles and ten miles or so to my north, both potentially impacting I95, just ahead of me.

Tension was high, the rain was heavy, and the lightning powerful. I waited out the first warning and then had to make a decision on the second: turn west toward Raleigh, then north (although storms were building fast to the west as well), or go as fast as I can on I95 and hope that I make it ahead of the the warning area. This kind of storm creates a very dynamic, unstable condition that undermines predictability but I had to do something, so I chose I95, as fast as possible, to get ahead of the warning zone. I made it, just as the storms built behind me, the lightning flashing in my mirror.

 My arrival in NYC

1 comment:

  1. Great graphics and 'bio' of a classic 'cane. Their power is awesome, and they are very interesting. Glad you were safe, but do wish we had gotten a bit of rain in Central Virginia.