Outsider’s perspective (by Kevin Trudgeon): Didn’t sign up for this

Posted: November 2, 2012

A conversation I had with a friend back in California had me shaking my head on the way to work Monday.

She had been following the coverage of Hurricane Sandy on the news and had called to see how I was holding up in Winchester.

I told her that the winds and rain were picking up, the temperature was dropping, that school had been canceled and that the experts were predicting things were only going to get worse as the day went on.

I then made the mistake of asking her how the weather was back home. Her response: “They said on the news that it’s supposed to dip below 80 today.”

That is so not what I wanted to hear.

I knew when I moved from Southern California to the east coast last year that I would have to get used to experiencing some new weather patterns — and by that I mean something other than blue skies and 80-degree weather 90 percent of the year.

I expected the cold. I expected the rain. I expected the snow.

But two hurricanes in 14 months? I’d be lying if I said I was expecting that.

Last year I thought Mother Nature was just trying to play a cruel joke on me. In the first three months of my moving to Winchester we had a 5.8 earthquake (the strongest earthquake to hit Virginia in over 100 years), Hurricane Irene and a snowstorm on Halloween.

People told me this wasn’t normal, that it was a freak run of bad weather luck. I believed them, figuring I’d survived my baptism by fire and that it couldn’t get any worse than that going forward.

I guess I was wrong.

While the local damage wasn’t nearly as bad as what happened to people in New Jersey and New York, not to mention those covered in snow in West Virginia, Sandy definitely left her mark on Winchester and the surrounding area.

From downed trees to power outages to flooding, there was plenty of destruction to go around and anyone who dared to venture outside Monday evening experienced first hand how strong the winds truly were.

A couple coworkers said they thought their roofs at home were going to be ripped off with how hard the wind was gusting and those of us who had to work spent most of the night waiting for the power to go out in the office as we watched a transformer outside on the corner emit sparks and sounds resembling shotgun blasts over and over.

It’s safe to say that I’d never dealt with anything like this back on the west coast.

By Tuesday morning things had settled down quite a bit, to the point where I didn’t feel the need to carry around a flashlight with me wherever I went.

All in all the damage could have been much worse — and was expected to be — but for a guy who just 14 months ago thought the only people who needed to worry about hurricanes were those who live within walking distance of the ocean, it was more than a little terrifying.

That being said, I can now boast that I’ve survived not one, but two hurricanes in my short time living on the east coast.

And I’ve learned a lot.

I now know the value of owning a few emergency candles, having a well-stocked pantry of non-perishables and why you should be ready for war if you make the foolish decision of going to the grocery store the night before a big storm is about to hit.

As I explained to my friend when I talked to her again on Wednesday, the east coast is slowly toughening me up weather-wise.

I think I’ll always be a California guy at heart, but I’m definitely getting better about braving the elements, hurricanes included.

Unless, of course, it suddenly decides to dip below 80 degrees. Then all bets are off.

— Kevin Trudgeon is the sports editor at The Winchester Star