Monday, September 20, 2004


So Saturday I get a phone call from my Mom in Pittsburgh. "I just want you to know that we're all right," she said.

My question was immediately "Why wouldn't you be all right?"

"We were hit by the storm," she said, "I thought if you were watching the Weather Channel you'd worry, but I called Gayle and Scott and everyone is fine."

Now I don't watch the Weather Channel out here, since the weather tends to change with about 20 minutes warning (indeed, the Weather Channel is suspiciously close the Sci-Fi channel on local cable), but I quickly put together what was happening. Hurricane Ivan, after its balleyhooed impact at the buckle of the Bible Belt, the Alabama/Mississipi border, lost some of its punch but none of its rain, and barrelled up along the Appalachians, catching a large number of inland cities. Including Pittsburgh. Here's a shot of downtown:


(When this link goes away, it shows Point Park, at the confluence where the Allegheny and Mongagahela (The "Mon") rivers combine to form the Ohio. It is the site of the original Fort Duquense and Fort Pitt. One of the reasons that it is a park is that it has flooded regularly over the years, usually when the ice starts breaking up in the spring. It is not currently spring, and the flooding topped out at the 31 foot level) Those trees you see? The usual edge of the river is about twenty feet away from them. Those boats? Moored over a large fountain at the end of the point.)

So I'm glad that the family is fine (a tendency to live on hills runs in the family), but I was a little surprised to discover that I had no clue until my Mom call that Pittsburgh was in any particular danger. The news, even the weather news, swarmed around the big story (Ivan makes landfall) and missed out the part of the story I would be interested in (Ivan brings torrential rains to Western PA).

I keep the Post-Gazette as a regular link from work. Now it looks like I have to do so at home as well.

You have to keep your eyes and ears open - its not like people are going to just TELL you things.

More later,