• Riding out the summer storm
    July 14,2013
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    Yeah, I know. “Just wait a few minutes (also said to be 5, 10 or even 20) and the weather will change. Forget that. As I listened to Roger Hill this morning he said we cold “rubber stamp” today throughout the coming week or more. Yuk. This is becoming the equivalent of Cabin Fever.

    Are you frustrated, chomping at the bit or taking refuge in front of the TV? How many days have we experienced serious rain? I, for one, have stopped counting. However, I am getting a bit philosophical about it and hope to share some of my optimism, as well as safety tips, with you.

    First of all, if you have depleted your precious few vacation days and have returned to work water-logged, I am so sorry and really do “feel you” on that one. And, secondly, please note that I am talking about recreational disappointments here and not making light of some of the serious, and even tragic, consequences of the recent weather systems.

    Now, on to address what we can do about this situation.

    Once again, Roger Hill, who has become well recognized for his weather reporting in Central Vermont and beyond, has given me something to chew on.

    I do not like thunder. I like lightning even less. I hear of people who love to watch the show. I’m one of those who would just as soon join the dog hiding under the bed. On a recent report, Hill said: “Thunderstorms stabilize the atmosphere.” Huh. They do have a purpose. Well, that sounds a bit reassuring and a bit less frightening.

    He went on with some positive advice that dovetails nicely with the maxim quoted above. Keeping in mind that the storm will most likely be passing through, it is possible to be out and about and simply wait through it. If your car is nearby and parked in a safe place (no danger of a tree falling on it or water rising around it), simply take refuge and postpone what you are doing until the storm passes. It may well be that it is fine to safely return to activities.

    This does not, however, take into consideration the hiker several miles from his car or the cyclist several hours from hers.

    The website of the National Weather Service suggests that “no place outside is safe when thunderstorms are in the area.” That’s clear enough. The site then clarifies some “rules” that are sometimes considered “old wives’ tales.” Guess not. “Stay off corded phones, computers and other electrical equipment that put you in direct contact with electricity. Avoid plumbing, including sinks, baths and faucets. Stay away from windows and doors and stay off porches. Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.”

    If you’re stuck outside, get off the high spots and open fields; get away from bodies of water and isolated trees, and separate yourself from barbed wire fences and power lines – conduits of electricity. (www.lighningsafety.noaa.gov)

    Perhaps the best protection of all is prevention. That does not necessarily mean shutting down. Rather it means thinking ahead, carefully plotting your activity with the weather forecast in mind. Often getting out early in the day does the trick as the T-storms tend to arrive later.

    This is also the time to consider alternative activities. If you must be on the water, don’t stray far from the boat landing. If you must cycle, choose some shorter routes and maybe loop them more than once to fit in a satisfactory ride. If you must hike, try short and steep or trade in your hiking boots for running shoes until the weather settles down. If worse comes to worse and you’re about to pop out of your skin, visit the nearest track and run laps until the weather forces you back into your car.

    When it comes to water, it can’t be said too strongly: use extreme caution when entering any body of water. Flash flooding has affected many brooks and streams as well as ponds and rivers. Currents are strong and often carry along potentially harmful objects or contamination. As of this writing at least three drownings have been reported in Central Vermont. Do not increase that number.

    Above all, look and listen for sights and sounds of approaching storms, assess conditions and be safe.

    You know what? The gym isn’t that bad. I know, we wait all year to get outside to enjoy the weather, nature’s beauty and the long days. However, surely, our turn will come. My fingers are crossed that the current weather will soon end and that the remainder of the summer will be our reward for having tolerated the soakings. In the meantime, we must keep our bodies fit, healthy and conditioned sufficiently to avoid missing out on the good stuff. Use the gym. Hop on cardio equipment like treadmills, rowing machines and stairclimbers or add Spinning® or Zumba® classes to your weekly schedule. Try to exercise five to seven days each week and strength train three.

    Summer in Vermont. Ain’t it grand?
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