AmerenUE’s website is claiming Wednesday night’s storm was the worst they’ve ever seen, from the power company’s perspective. I believe that.
I was at the AMC Creve Coeur theatre when the wind started picking up…supposed to meet a friend there. I got there early, and was waiting outside until the wind picked up too much for me to stay out there. Grit was blowing into my eyes. As I headed inside, my friend called and cancelled, wisely deciding to stay at his North County home rather than get out in the weather. About that time, the power went out in the theatre. So there was that. I decided to go ahead and head home. At that point, it was windy, but the dark clouds were still largely north of me, and I had to go south anyway. So I headed down Lindbergh. Every traffic light was out.
It always amazes me how calmly people tend to handle situations like that. You’d expect to see a few idiots just careening down the road, going right through the lights. Nope, everybody just immediately treated the lights as stop signs and patiently waited their turn to go–which can be quite a trick when the intersection has a total of ten lanes of traffic. I got down to the north side of Kirkwood before I headed west toward my apartment. I was hoping to outrun the storm enough to pick up some DVDs at the Kirkwood library. But I hadn’t seen any sign of electricity since Creve Coeur, and I wasn’t hopeful.
People were out with video cameras…I suppose they were filming the trees blowing wildly in the gusty wind, because as hard as I was watching, I never saw anything resembling a tornado. In fact, it was an incredibly easy drive. With the way the trees were bending and twisting in the wind, I expected to feel it blowing my car, but it never did. In fact, the storm would’ve been a complete nonentity as far as driving was concerned, had I not had to keep pulling around downed limbs and trees. When I got home and watched the weather reports (through necessity–I’d seen enough of the storm’s movements after five minutes, but my highly anticipated episode of So You Think You Can Dance never returned to the air), I noticed an area of calm in the center of the storm. I’m pretty sure that’s where I was, because on the weather map, it tracked pretty nearly my route.
It started raining just as I got home, and tornado sirens went off. My power only went out for about fifteen minutes. Cable (including internet) was out for longer, but came back in time for me to see…more weather reports. Oh well. I was glad to have power at all. It wasn’t until the next day at work that I found out that large portions of the city were out entirely…and still are, as far as I know.
Tonight I drove down to WashU after work to do a little research (mostly unproductive, especially since the library apparently closes at 6pm on Fridays during the summer. Bah! There’s summer classes, people!), and the thing that’s the weirdest to me is how sporadic the power outages are. Mine essentially wasn’t out, in the Ballwin area. St. Charles seems to be in good shape. But I know people in North County, South City, and Eureka who were without power for at least 24 hours. Not close-together-areas. First Bank had some ten or twelve branches without electricity today, and they’re scattered all over the area. And driving to WashU, there would be a traffic light here that was on, five more that were off…a business here that was open, some more over there that were totally dark. The south side of the Loop was active, but the north side was powerless. Traffic lights all down Big Bend were fine…until Manchester. Then on Manchester they were on…until Brentwood. The light on the east side of Dougherty Ferry and I-270 is on, but the one on the west side isn’t.
It’s probably not random to someone from the power company, who knows that the south side of Delmar is on this substation which is up, but the north side is on a different substation which is still down, or that some traffic lights have backup power, or something. But to the casual observer, it’s very strange indeed.
(And this is not even mentioning the freaky rainstorm we had in Hazelwood this morning…strong winds, torrential rain, hail even…it was so bad we couldn’t see the cars in the parking lot from the door twenty feet away. It leaked through the windows, leaving puddles of water on the windowsills. And then, it was done, and a couple of hours later the sun was back out. I think I should get out of here and move someplace else. *g*)