First Storm Of The Season September 2021

40 mph gusts. The certainty of rain. The temperature only making it up to 65F. Summer isn’t over, but the first storm of the season has arrived. Other places get hurricanes and tornadoes, massive thunderheads and lightning storms. Whidbey gets rather windy, wet, and chilly. It may not bring national headlines, but the first storm is a reminder that calm, dry, and hot are mostly gone for several months. Now, weather gets interesting.

Reminders for stormy weather on #WhidbeyIsland:

  • Shower, do dishes, do laundry, do those things that need hot water now in case power or pumps fail. (Sitting in the dark is easier if everything is clean.)
  • Set aside enough food that doesn’t require fridge and freezer for a few meals. (Tuna fish and peanut butter do well in the pantry, but some variety is preferred.)
  • Stow deck stuff that can blow away. (Unless, of course, you are planning to let the wind donate your stuff to your neighbor.)
  • Charge the batteries. (Because we have to labor a bit to protect our labor-saving (ha!) devices.)
  • Be grateful for a book and wine collection. (Duh.)
  • And hope all of the work is unnecessary because the power usually stays on.

(For a more serious list, visit the National Weather Service’s Emergency Preparedness page.)

The weather doesn’t care about our calendar. Storms will get here when they deliver themselves. They can’t be repackaged and sent back. They are usually not much more than an inconvenience, which is why people move here from places with those hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, dust storms, and wildfires. Those places get many more visits from The Weather Channel than Whidbey gets. That’s ok.

Where the storm hits means the island doesn’t get the same weather everywhere. It’s a long island. Today’s a day for nasty winds making it tougher to cross the bridge, and makes it a good day to check the ferries.

While the winds may mean 40 mph conditions for Navy pilots, and enough to close the ferry out of Coupeville, it is only 20 mph for the south end where things are merely breezy.

It is also an interesting time for the Kite Festival at Camp Casey. For them, windy is better than calm. The chance of thunderstorms can veto that, though. (Whidbey has one of the lowest incidents of lightning strikes in the US, but they do happen. That also means almost every strike becomes a conversation topic.)

Some time after this storm and the start of winter will probably be a warm stretch, a brief reminder of summer and an opportunity to get those last few hikes and outdoor projects done. For this weekend, it is a good time to shake out the winter clothes, relocate spiders and moths, and get ready to switch from gin & tonics to hot toddys.

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