So, we had some thunderstorms today . . . normal, D.C.-area summer thunderstorms. Yeah, maybe they were a little on the rough side of the scale, but they were really pretty normal. We have storms like this many times every year. It’s part of our local climate and it shouldn’t take any of us by surprise. By the breathless blathering of the local media, the number of power outages, and the flurry of major road closures for downed trees, however, you might be forgiven for thinking we were just hit with the storm of the century (just like the last storm of the century we had . . . last week).
This area has always been a bit on the wimpy side. We get an inch of snow and all the schools close. We get a minor tropical depression blowing through and the government shuts down for a week. We have an earthquake that barely registers—a hiccup by California standards—and it’s the talk of the town for a week. Come on people, grow up.
The madness is exacerbated this year since, after a couple years of economic instability, our governments and utility companies have failed to do any preventive maintenance. Power companies are supposed to try and keep large limbs and unstable trees away from power lines, thus minimizing power outages. Our local and state governments are supposed to be doing the same kind of work along our thoroughfares. This kind of maintenance can never completely eliminate weather-related power outages and road closures, but it can certainly help if they bother to do it.
It’s obvious they’ve been asleep on the job though. Today’s thoroughly normal storms knocked out power for 80,000 D.C. area customers and closed (wholly or partially) the George Washington Memorial Parkway, U.S. 50 in Loudoun County, I-295, and a ton of smaller highways. The storms did come with some high winds, so it’s unsurprising that there were some trees down . . . but seriously, since when do our standard summer storms shut down multiple major highways.
What’s worse though is how, at the first sign of storms, drivers around here turn into blithering morons who think they need to get in a line across the highway and match each others’ speed 30 miles-per-hour below the limit. Come on people, act like adults when you’re driving and act like adults when faced with bad weather or other natural events.