Hurricane Irene hit the Midstate Saturday night with heavy rain, gusty winds, and a pure, powerful force that only Mother Nature herself could bring. The timing had been nailed down for most of the week, but the exact track was uncertain almost until the moment the storm arrived. We always knew we wouldn't get the worst of this storm…and we didn't. North Carolina, Virginia, Delaware, and New Jersey were hit very hard. Nonetheless, parts of central Pennsylvania were left devastated with wind damage and there was also some minor flooding. Thankfully, we avoided the worst of the flooding situations too; because that can make a royal mess of things (the power outages are bad enough). Irene hit the Midstate as a full blown hurricane, something we and the rest of the east coast hasn't had to deal with in quite sometime.
I've heard some people mention Agnes as they always will when tropical moisture heads our way. This situation was not even close to Agnes for many reasons though. Agnes was so rare and so intense that it will be hard to duplicate around these parts. Agnes was not a hurricane when it struck our region back in 1972. Irene was a full-blown category one storm. The remnants of Agnes moved into the region and stalled over-top the area for several days. Irene was a rather quick moving storm by the time it reached the Commonwealth. This time, the winds came and did plenty of damage, but with Agnes (or the remnants of that storm) it was the rains and floods which never seemed to end. I would argue that we got the better end of the deal this time, even for those folks that are currently cleaning trees off their property. Flooding is something most people never want to experience and it certainly takes longer to clean up than plowing snow or moving fallen trees no matter how large. Flooding is often over-looked when talking about big-time weather events. However, those that lived through Agnes (myself not included) would probably tell you Irene wasn't all that bad.
I just wanted to offer a little perspective on this weekend because sometimes that helps when dealing with big weather events. There is no question that Irene will be talked about up and down the east coast and probably remembered as one of the rare hurricanes that did damage across most of the east and many big cities. Around here, though, mentioning Irene in the same breath as Agnes doesn't cut it – at least in my opinion. Calmer weather arrives today and should continue for most of the week. Good luck cleaning up and hopefully the fall season brings better weather to our region after an active spring, a dry July, a wet August, and Hurricane Irene. Remember – September starts Thursday!