The Next Big One…

Last weekend’s wind and rainstorm, the most damaging in Seattle’s history, turned this blog in on itself. Surviving Seattle, from the beginning has been about activities that help me “survive” Seattle’s weather, but it was never about “survival.” Today’s post is different.

This is a picture of my friend Trish Quinn’s home on Saturday when the wind felled trees, took down power lines, and closed roads.

By the looks of it Trish got off easy. The tree was removed and there was no serious damage to the house, but by the end of the day Saturday there were two deaths from falling trees and almost half a million people were without power. 911 operators were overwhelmed and the streets and Interstate were gridlocked with fallen trees, scattered debris, and failed traffic lights.

After two hours of watching the wind whip leaves and branches from the huge cottonwoods in Log Boom Park next door, we lost power at our condo about 10 a.m. Because power losses in our neighborhood are not unusual, I naively imagined other normally quiet areas nearby would still be operating. Not so. When we drove – very slowly – to Les Schwab Tire to have new tires installed we discovered all the businesses in that neighborhood were shut down too.

On Sunday morning, still without power, I called our favorite espresso joint, Caffe Ladro, and was thrilled to hear they had power.  At 9:00 when we arrived, having negotiated 7 miles of roads without traffic lights this is what the pastry case looked like:

Seattle Storm Ladro

The 6:00 a.m. pastry delivery sold out by 8:00 because everyone without power was looking for the same thing – breakfast and a clean well-lighted place to read the Sunday paper. We were lucky enough to get the last Danish in the case and those 16 oz. lattes were sensational. The hungry hoards kept coming but missed out on the goodies.

Relatively speaking, we were lucky; our power came back on at 10:00 Sunday morning, but we were still without cable, Internet or telephone until sometime Monday. According to the Seattle Times there there were still 60,000 homes in the area without power on Monday evening.

If we had some relatively minor cleanup to do at our place it was a blessing. Five miles away in Lynnwood this was the situation:

Seattle Storm 2

On a weather-related note, the July 20, 2015 issue of The New Yorker featured an article about “The Really Big One” a predicted earthquake that will destroy a sizable portion of the coastal Northwest. Scary stuff, and it was the primary topic of media hype until Donald Trump started bloviating about Mexican rapists. So much for real news.

The Seattle area is no stranger to wind and rainstorms. They normally begin in November, not August, but power outages are not uncommon. So, what to make of these facts – this was the hottest driest summer on record and the biggest windstorm in history came in August? They suggest to me that something odd is happening to the weather, and I’m not alone. Climate change is in the air, no pun intended, and on the tip of everyone’s tongue. Do we believe it’s real? Apparently not.

According to Scientific American, “In 2014, the vast majority (87 percent) of scientists said that human activity is driving global warming, and yet only half the American public ascribed to that view though 77 percent of scientists said climate change is a very serious problem. In comparison only 33 percent of the general public said it was a very serious problem in 2013.” That the split exists is common knowledge, but why? It seems the majority of Americans would rather align their scientific views with their political ideology of choice than accept what the majority scientific view.

Are we surprised? For the most part these parochial naysayers are the same people who believe God created humans 10,000 years ago, a view that hasn’t changed much in 30 years. According to a 2014 Gallup Poll, 42% of Americans believe in a Creationist perspective – that God created human life as we know it somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago. According to the same Gallup survey the remaining 58% believe in some kind of evolutionary explanation for the origin of human life.

I’m currently reading Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, a book that postulates we are in the midst of the next major extinction event. Dinosaurs and glaciers are gone and we could be next? Kolbert makes a convincing argument that the change is upon us.

Possible extinction may account for my intolerance of climate change deniers and Creationists with their heads in 10,000 years of sand. Whatever the truth is about The Big One, wind and rainstorms, evolution, and The Sixth Extinction I suggest we all do what we already should have done – buy a bunch of flashlights, a battery powered transistor radio, and an emergency kit for the next time the lights go out, the roads buckle, and the china cabinet falls over. The power might stay off for weeks.

Good luck.


  1. why didn’t you come to our house? We had lights, lots of red wine and interesting people here (Taylor, Rachel Bishop)

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