Worldbuilding: Impressions of a Storm

You can taste a hurricane in the wind; salt and iodine as you draw breath past your lips. No hint of seawrack, this is the pure ocean from miles offshore, carried in stormless winds.

Away from the eye, the hurricane isn’t an unbroken swell of storms. It’s more like a giant pinwheel, stripes of mostly clouds and wind amongst the rain bands, that train downpours across again and again, drenching ground that had just managed to drain to soggy in the last twirl.

Hurricanes pattern the world, plastering bits of leaves to walls, windows, and windshields. Not whole leaves, though there’s plenty of those in the mess. Torn leaf bits. It’s a distinctive look; check out the 9th episode of Burn Notice’s fourth season, “Center of the Storm”, for the most realistic TV depiction of post-hurricane leftovers I’ve seen yet. Generally when Hollywood sets up storms for show they focus on the wind and rain and trees and powerlines coming down, completely forgetting the small detritus flung about by that wind and rain.

Speaking of wind and rain… driving in hurricanes. If possible, don’t.

That said, if you’re not in the direct path and only getting passing bands, there are likely to be clear spots during which someone may want to get out. Or there’s an emergency. Or storm nerves have people too mad to look at each other any longer.

Three things to keep in mind if you do have to hit the road. Wind, water, and your fellow humans.

Wind makes driving difficult. Even if it’s not throwing sheets of rain in your face, it shoves your vehicle at odd moments, not always in a predictable direction. Keep both hands on the wheel and all distractions off. Wind can also give a last push to a broken branch, tree, or power pole at just the wrong moment, leaving debris in the road (if you’re lucky) or dropping it on top of you (if you’re not).

Water can ruin your day in many forms, and more quickly that you can imagine. Flash floods are always a risk. Low spots on the road will become ponds just from rain. Hopefully you know where you’re driving and can avoid the lowest spots. If you don’t know where you’re driving – go slow, use your lights at all times, and watch for “puddles” with suspicious spots of color that turn out to be the top of a pickup truck. Also watch for new potholes. They may be the only surface sign of a badly undermined road. The kind that swallows cars, and sometimes 18-wheelers.

Then, of course, there’s the rain. Sometimes just speckling your windshield. Sometimes pouring down so fast your wipers give up, barely granting you brief moments of clarity to maybe the end of your lights’ range.

Again, use your lights. Yes, even if it’s daylight. You may be fine, but assume every other driver on the road with you is stressed, or they wouldn’t be on the road in the first place. Maybe they’re sick, or lost. Maybe they can’t afford to miss work. Maybe they’re hurt, or someone else in the vehicle is; there are so many ways to get hurt in a hurricane or the aftermath. Some of them involve chainsaws, electrocution, or both.

The three major emotional markers of a hurricane are tension, exhaustion, and waiting. If your house is flooding or blowing away, you’ve got an immediate danger and can react accordingly. But mostly, a hurricane is a siege. Don’t be the one who breaks first.

…At least the frogs are happy?


10 thoughts on “Worldbuilding: Impressions of a Storm

  1. I remember one time where it was raining during the day.
    Not particularly hard, just enough that you couldn’t see quite as far as normal.

    A line of cars, with their lights on, perfectly visible… except for one gap that had a car without the lights on, completely invisible.
    It was really unnerving.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Nothing like hurricanes where I live, but we do get heavy rains. I will never forget the time I was driving down the road and while it wasn’t pouring it was definitely coming down. I passed what looked like a cloud of some kind kicking up water. It was a ****ing silver car, no lights on, doing something like 60 or so on the highway. Darn near invisible except for the way the water was kicked up from the road. I was *very* happy to leave that idiot behind!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Mostly, yes. Lot of wind, rain, and schools were closed yesterday due to flooding and generic road debris. Today, though, things are mostly back to normal. Though there are high winds still, and being in the Gulf would be A Bad Idea. We’re slated to get a tiny bit more rain tomorrow, that should do it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hadn’t thought about the more minor storm debris being an overlooked detail before (which I suppose is part of the reason it gets overlooked), but it makes perfect sense. Neat!

    The driving advice is very similar to the talk I’ve given to my friends from warmer climates about safely driving in snowstorms. Switch out rain, puddles, and potholes for snow, black ice, and snowdrifts, and it’s nearly identical in content.

    Liked by 4 people

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