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06-09-2020, 21:03   #1
M.T. Cranium
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What was the biggest weather impact directly on your life?

With this rather boring, bland autumn weather pattern, it's time to start some interesting weather discussions. So I was thinking, what was the most impactful weather event of my life (or the life of anyone I know personally)?

Living most of my younger life in Ontario, with the dynamic weather they have in that region, I had to think about it quite a while. What it boils down to is, how close did I ever come to dying in a storm?

And frankly, I'm quite lucky to be alive (if anyone can say that in 2020).

Closest call was probably this -- in August 1971 I was on a canoe trip in a wilderness area (Algonquin Park) in central Ontario. My connection to the weather at that pre-internet point of time was merely that I was operating a personal weather station which was being minded by friends, about 200 miles to the southwest of where this happened. And it was four or five days into the trip, so whatever slight pre-trip ideas I had about weather had pretty much expired (this was back in the days when models went about two or three days and I had no access to them anyway).

We came around a bend heading south on a warm, humid day and realized that a storm was quickly moving in. Hills to our south and west had prevented much of a view of that until the two of us realized that we had to get to shore, but the only option was a half mile ahead of us. Into a steadily rising southwest wind we paddled as hard as we could for about fifteen minutes, and scrambled onto the shore in a steady torrential downpour, winds of probably 40-50 knots and frequent lightning. We just threw a tarp over everything and waited it out under some big trees. That could have ended the way several other canoe trips ended in the same region, with a drowning (later in the 1970s, a whole party of kids on a multi-canoe trip on the nearby Ottawa River ran into a similar situation and it ended up being a mass casualty outcome).

I've mentioned once or twice experiencing the derecho of early morning July 15, 1995 -- but we had a basement to ride out that storm in case it blew the house apart (an F-2 tornado embedded in our cell luckily pulled off the ground a few miles west of us after wrecking a marina on a nearby lake).

Then there were any number of snowstorms where yours truly was driving in bad to terrible conditions, never once went off the road but had to wait out one snow squall for about three hours which was scary because I couldn't pull far enough off the shoulder to feel that nobody driving the highway could possibly hit me -- however, as I recall, nobody drove by (this was also in the early 1970s and at a point in my life where I had much less connection to weather forecasting than I would have at any point after 1976). So while I probably knew from the general situation that it was a poor driving night, I was at the end of a weekend visit with friends who were all going somewhere too, from a house in the middle of nowhere, so no real options but to risk the drive. I ended up getting back to my home base which was very briefly in Toronto at that point, in the dawn.

Driving in the winter in Canada is not a very appealing proposition. Yes, most Canadians have some skills in winter driving, but many urban residents do not and get into trouble on longer drives than their neighbourhoods. Road maintenance is as good as it can be, I suppose, but in some heavy snowfall events that breaks down to no maintenance at all (more than a few times I've heard a newscast saying "the storm was so bad the plows were called off the roads.") ... and then they close the roads, but maybe you're already on that stretch and it can be very challenging to get safely through.

I've never been directly impacted by a flood, but I have recorded rainfalls at various locations up to 7" within 12 hours -- that one just flooded out all the ditches in the flat area around my house but there were no nearby creeks that could flood.

Minus -40 temperatures have had impacts too, but not life threatening. One day in January 1976, in Ontario's snow belt, even the daytime -25 to -30 was cold enough to cause a lot of dead batteries, and I remember that a tow truck that I had called in was also unable to keep going, so a larger tow truck was called in to get all of us going (not sure why I had bothered, could have just stayed put until it warmed up). The following night the temperature was as low as -41 C and you could hear trees cracking in the frost (I was briefly outside with a flashlight reading my screen thermometer). That -40 was duplicated on two occasions where I lived in January 1994 (this was maybe 100 km east of the earlier location, in Lakefield, Ontario). Those were both Sunday mornings but I manged to get my vehicle going thanks to a block heater.

Extreme heat has also never had any big impacts on my life, but I've experienced as hot as 47 C in Las Vegas and St George Utah in August 2011 on a trip to the Utah back country. Thankfully most of the scenic parts of Utah are a lot higher in elevation than that stretch, so a really hot day is 35-40 rather than mid 40s. And they tend to get frequent afternoon thunderstorms over that country, unlike Vegas which gets maybe one or two days with any rain at all in their summer climate.

So how about yourselves? Anyone come close to death due to a weather event?
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06-09-2020, 23:52   #2
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There is quite a few weather events I remember but never had a big impact in my life but will contribute to this thread in the future. But I will post a couple of memories. One of my earliest memory of a thunderstorm was in April 1979 at my home near Limerick city. I was just home from boarding School on a Wednesday before Easter Sunday. It was over a month before my 8th birthday. It looked like the yard outside the kitchen window. Frequent thunder and lightening. I would only hear thunder on TV before. It was around 6pm that evening.
A more recent memory was in Melbourne Australia on Friday 7th December 2018. I was there on my trip to Australia and a very high temperature of 38°C was being forecast. It was also fairly windy with low humidity. It was suppose to be the highest temperature I knowing to experience. I felt quite comfortable out in it and I went to an viewing floor on a skyscraper. Went out to St. Kilda in the evening. There were people going into the water after sunset.
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07-09-2020, 01:09   #3
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Off the top of my head the biggest in terms of actual impact was probably the blizzard in 2018. I was living on the Kildare/Meath border which was amongst the worst affected places in the country with 3 or 4 days of constant snowfall. We were totally snowed in for the best part of a week, my car disappeared under the snow and everything totally ground to a halt. I remember taking a long walk into Maynooth to replenish supplies later in the week and it was like something out of the walking dead. Everything closed, cars abandoned everywhere and loads of people slowly shuffling along down the middle of the main road

I've bizarrely been in the right place for all three major blizzards we've had in the past decade, there was another in March 2010 across Ulster where we got stuck in Barnesmore Gap and had to wait for a snow plough to clear a path. Also in March 2013 there was a severe blizzard in Derry/Antrim where I also happened to be. I remember the Ponderosa at the top of the Glenshane Pass was totally encased in ice and then we ended up on a long detour through the Antrim hills as the M2 became impassable.

Storm wise, I've never been seriously affected though the Stephens Day '98 storm comes to mind as causing a lot of damage locally. We lost a tree in the garden but a neighbour lost the roof to their house.

Heat wise, nothing too interesting, I've experienced 44C in Western Australia but it was surprisingly bearable or certainly not much worse than low 30's with high humidity. Thunderstorms also nothing much, saw plenty of spectacular storms in Malaysia and Indonesia and one 3 hour strobe lightning show in Australia but no impact other than enjoyment!
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07-09-2020, 01:14   #4
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Living in the states there have been a few.

Most impactful was 15 inches of rain in a 8 hour period. Derecho and tornado, coming back to find a house completely mildewed after a week away and90 degrees, I had to live in a hotel for three weeks. Everything in the house smelled awful and basically had to destroy everything. Four people died in the town I live, so I was lucky.

Numerous ice storms last year caused me to crash and cause 15k worth of damage to the car my driveway..
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07-09-2020, 01:22   #5
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Working in Nairobi in 2013 towards the beginning of the rainy season. We were in the apartment that evening, balmy and humid out, but still. The only way I can describe it was the weather went from 0 to 60 in the space of a minute. The wind whipped up incredibly until huge 100ft+ trees were getting tossed about like twigs; we struggled to close the balcony door - two of us had to work to slam it closed; very close lightning - the bluest light I've ever seen; and torrential sideways rain. It lasted only minutes and then went back to being still and balmy albeit a little less humid. More learned minds here might scoff at this but i often wonder if we were on the edge of a small tornado - would genuinely love to know what you think about it.

2004 in Valencia, Spain. An afternoon thunderstorm came in off the coast and the whole house was siesta-ing. Of course this was way too good an opportunity to miss so I went down the outside stairs to sit in an open porch underneath the house but with a better view of the sky. I had parked myself about 20 seconds when golfball-sized hailstones started coming down. The pool looked like a fast boiling saucepan. Was definitely sheepish emerging from that one as that hail would have done serious damage (and did, but luckily we didn't have cars there).
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07-09-2020, 01:40   #6
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Paddling out a bodyboard to crab island near Doolin to catch a few small waves, maybe head height and not looking at magic seaweed before hand.

A few years ago I always had my swimfins wetsuit and a bodyboard and towel in the estate boot.

Little did I know that the ground swell was tripling in size at around 3 'O Clock in the afternoon until a Galway surfer paddled out at around 2 and said lads if you're not interested in big waves best you paddle back to the mainland before the pulse hits.

The M1 wave buoy is after measuring a spike in wave height.
I thought himself and his mates were trying to get the place to themselves.

Anyhow around an hour later the sets of waves increased gradually, and the next thing Galway dude shouted out, here it comes around 300m in a south western direction you could see a big bump hiding the horizon and I knew this one was serious.
Padded over three with difficulty,the 4th one got me in a duck dive wipeout, over the falls held under only around 8 seconds which felt like eternity when you're in a huge washing machine,and seeing light, darkness feeling yourself rubbing off rock's, came up for air.
Hit by around 10 ft of whitewater from wave no 5 down again and washed up onto crabisland and the wetsuit nearly torn off me.

Thant was around 4 year's ago and it knocked the confidence out of me and I hardly went surfing since.

Scariest thing that ever happened to me.
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07-09-2020, 05:34   #7
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The winter of 2010 gets a high placing. I was literally stranded in the Blue Stack mountains in deep snow for nearly six weeks. Need say no more.
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07-09-2020, 05:41   #8
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Probably hurricane off the coast of Hong Kong, grounded all flights, was stranded for an extra day in hk, life can be so cruel in the first world!
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07-09-2020, 06:25   #9
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Originally Posted by Graces7 View Post
The winter of 2010 gets a high placing. I was literally stranded in the Blue Stack mountains in deep snow for nearly six weeks. Need say no more.
Yes. That winter. We were iced into place for 1 month. Luckily as it happened around Christmas I had lots of stock in plus I always keep a back up of basics. The one that had left was visiting so we were all home. I remember it as one of the most magical times of all I have ever known. The utter stillness. The slowness of every day, no hectic outside world. The brightness of the frozen snow. The cosiness inside. All together.
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07-09-2020, 07:16   #10
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Originally Posted by Gruffalox View Post
Yes. That winter. We were iced into place for 1 month. Luckily as it happened around Christmas I had lots of stock in plus I always keep a back up of basics. The one that had left was visiting so we were all home. I remember it as one of the most magical times of all I have ever known. The utter stillness. The slowness of every day, no hectic outside world. The brightness of the frozen snow. The cosiness inside. All together.
Magical is not the word I am using. Or would use. No water; all frozen solid, constant bitter cold. I had not yet done big shopping and was totally stuck until a kind boardsie with a 4 by 4 came with fuel and food.

It was a nightmare. Just that. To enjoy an event like that you have to be safe. It was not safe. Never again. shudders. I have no illusions about snow and ice any more. They are dangerous .

Last edited by Graces7; 07-09-2020 at 07:30.
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07-09-2020, 07:44   #11
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Ice storm of 1998 in Southern Quebec. Power outages for hundreds of thousands as power lines came crashing down. The accumulating weight of Ice on the lines between towers toppled hundreds of them. Our house was out of power for a week, lighting the fireplace did nothing to heat the place, had to leave with my wife and son for a cousin's place in an unaffected suburb. Thousands of trees toppled, broken, streets impassable, some households were w/o electricity for two months before the system was repaired. We had assistance from workers of neighboring provinces and states' utilities to repair the mess that wreaked havoc and billions in repairs.
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07-09-2020, 08:24   #12
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In early May 1992 I got wet cycling to school.. soaked!!!
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07-09-2020, 08:25   #13
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Originally Posted by Reckless Abandonment View Post
In early May 1992 I got wet cycling to school.. soaked!!!
trauma is a bitch, hugs!
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07-09-2020, 09:25   #14
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I slept out, just a sleeping bag, no tent, all over South
Western Europe, from April to November. Grape harvest in Champagne area of France was 6 weeks early.

Last edited by dohouch; 07-09-2020 at 09:34.
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07-09-2020, 09:30   #15
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Probably the "big snow" of 1982 for me.

I was only a small child and I recall the men of the estate gathering after the first 5 or 6 days to "hike" to the nearest local supermarket (which was about 3k away). We literally had no supplies in and it was impossible to drive.

As a kid I was delighted with the time off school.

Another one I remember was the rain event the time to basement of Dundrum Shopping Centre flooded. I had been out walking with a friend that morning in full wet gear, and driving home the roads were starting to become dangerous.

One of our more recent snow events, was it 2010 or before? I remember going outside one evening to check on the weather and I have literally never felt such a bone chilling cold before.

I was in Delaware for a hurricane one year, it wasnt too bad tbh.
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