Updated: December 1, 2012 6:24AM
My niece called Monday morning from Manhattan, hunkered down and maybe suffering just a touch of early cabin fever as she awaited Hurricane Sandy, aka Frankenstorm.
“It’s raining, but not that hard,” she said. “I might go for a walk in the park.”
I was reminded of February 2011 when, at the height of the Groundhog Day Blizzard, I was sick of being in the house and thought I’d go out and do some preemptive shoveling. I was nearly knocked off my feet by the wind. I’ll never forget the realization I had at that moment: This is why human beings invented shelter.
In the case of Sandy, the East Coast and Appalachia are bracing for the worst, but even those of us 800 miles away started getting a hint of just how monstrous this particular storm is on Monday afternoon, when clouds started to creep into Lake County ... from the east.
Back on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1, we dodged a small bullet north of Chicago when the remnants of Hurricane Issac dumped five inches of rain in Livingston County and 3.25 inches in Kankakee while we got about an inch total. But it’s not unheard of for us to get soaked by what’s left of a hurricane — in September 1961, Carla plowed into the Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm and was technically a tropical depression as far inland as Austin. That would be Austin, Texas, not Austin Boulevard.
The remnants of Carla carved a looping path across the central U.S., causing flash floods that killed six people as far north as Kansas and Missouri. National Weather Service maps of that path, in fact, show that the storm’s center tracked directly across metro Chicago on its way to Newfoundland.
All told, we got about five inches of rain out of Carla not only here in Lake County, but as far north as central Wisconsin between Sept. 12 and 14, with winds gusting to nearly 50 mph.
So what might we get out of Sandy? As of Monday afternoon, the weather service was reporting that “the primary impact will be powerful northerly winds over and near Lake Michigan” into midweek. Those winds will technically be gale force (39-54 mph), with gusts along the Chicago and South Shore ends of the lake reaching 60 mph.
So batten down the hatches — or the patio furniture, anyway — and enjoy a rare occasion when Midwest weather is relatively meek and mild.