This video was shot for my youtube channel on the morning of February 10, 2010. I remember the experience well. It was the second of two blizzards we in DC affectionately call snowmageddon. But this second one was harsher, with strong winds. At this point most people just gave up and stayed inside. Only a few main roads were passable. That morning I went out in my winter jacket, my Uggs, my gloves and hat and with my then-trusty Sony Cybershot and wandered for about an hour. This video was the result. New York Social Diary included it in my blizzard story.
Until this morning I had not watched it in ages. It gets the point across. Good luck, New England.
I went out this morning around 8:45 and walked for an hour. There were not many signs of significant tree damage in Georgetown. Most of what I found was general debris, some small to medium limbs, but no whole trees down, such as we had with the Durecho. Admittedly I covered only a mile or so. It seems to me the story in the village today is the waterfront, where at 9:15 am the Potomac looked close to bridging the Washington Harbor dock. High tide came at 9:33 am. Every single floodgate, large and small, was up, including at The House of Sweden. The Colonial Parking garage at K and 30th Streets had the sandbags and barriers out. The next high tide is this evening at 9:44.
The Washingtonian is collecting citizen storm photos for our website. Please send them to Tanya Pai at this link: SandyStormPhotos. We're also interested in learning what businesses are open or closed.
Long-time residents know this lesson well: if you park on the street in DC be sure in a storm to move your car so it is not under a big old beautiful tree. The fact is our beautiful trees don't have the root balls to support them in a storm with fierce winds. With every storm over the past dozen years I have taken a photo of one crushed car or another that had the misfortune of being parked under what appeared to be a healthy tree. It's an illusion. Lots of rain creates soft ground. Add to that the fact there are still leaves on the trees, making them top heavy. So, if your car is parked under a tall, and beautiful DC tree, move it now.
This July 4th was somewhat different from the usual in Washington, largely because of the Friday night storm but also it was mid-week, and with boiling hot. The hot was not so unusual, but combined with not having power and, well, some people who didn't have power may not have been in a party mood. Or maybe a party was the antidote to the reality. Or they had fun with a bitch at Pepco on Twitter.
My son and I stopped by the Dodge Mansion, the P Street home of our neighbor, Bill Dean, who each year tosses a memorable July 4th party. Memorable because it is quite simply over the top. Bill's philosophy is simple: he works hard as President and CEO of MC Dean, and therefore plays hard. Life can't be all seriousness, and his life has a lot of seriousness because he does a lot of work in war zones. While the guest list includes an array of attractive young women - a Playboy Playmate or two, several Redskinsettes, models - there are a lot of former and current military men (SEALS, Delta Force, Rangers). Add to that some of Bill's fellow mogul friends, like Michael Saylor. And he always invites the neighbors, because along with the huge buffet of July 4th foods, the backyard and rooftop bars stocked with Veuve Clicquot and premimum brands, and the pool games, there's a DJ and dancing.
THERE'S ALWAYS SECURITY AT A DEAN PARTY (LOOK TO THE LEFT IN THE BUSHES)Getting into a Dean party is not easy. One has to bring a "ticket" that is a computer print out (or on your app phone) with your photo (already acquired by them) a security code and number. That's shown at the door and cross-checked on a list. All the security men dress in the same black shirt and khaki pants combo used by current or former Secret Service. They are discreet, but everywhere - at the door, in the bushes, on each floor of the house, up on the spectacular rooftop deck.
NOTE: This party is not for the body insecure. Buff is the word, though mixed in with the buff are a few fellas who like like maybe they work at desks. The accountants? The lawyers? Possibly.
On Washingtonian.com Tuesday I posted a story that asks Is Washington Ready For July 4th? The National Park Service said, "Yes." It seems they were right.
I could write a wordy essay about weather and how much we love it but also how sometimes it can really suck. Georgetown escaped relatively unscathed in last night's whopper of a storm, but that won't be much comfort to the owner of this Jaguar, which was parked on O Street near 28th. Crack! Boom! Now, if the car were sweating, that would complete the picture. (And, you know, in situations like this, there's always some dude standing the foreground, staring and muttering, "that car's screwed.")
Even though relatively exhausted from my exuberant Super Bowl party the night before, last night was a night out for dinner at Restaurant Nora, with Nora and my food writing Washingtonian colleague, Jessica Voelker. Jessica moved here with her husband from Seattle, started at Washingtonian on the same day as I did in October, and writes about food, restaurants and also, especially, craft cocktails. I had the arugula salad and the sauteed Diver scallops and apple pie. Nora remains delicious and also one of the most beautiful dining rooms in the city. For me it will always be the fond memory of where Howard and I had dinner the day we learned I was pregnant in March 1991.
I walked to and from the restaurant, because it was a mild and pretty night and also a chance to walk beneath a glowing Gibbous Moon. Tonight it will be full.
I spent the earlier part of the day at the State Department, working on a story for the April or May issue of the magazine, a feature called "Places You Can't Go." We went someplace very special. It was a privilege, and the privilege was thanks to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The truth about weather is that there is no absolute truth, only speculation. Yes, based on science but not definitive. Nonetheless, the pic above is Georgetown's favorite sledding hill in Montrose Park, where children of all ages have zoomed straight down and done their best to avoid that tree. A friend lost her big fat diamond ring there years ago, in 5-6 inches of snow, when it flew off her finger as she and her daughter rode a toboggan over a bump. We went back to look for it, but no luck.
The local TV news tonight teased with threats of snow this weekend, but the actual forecasts - later in the broadcasts - pulled back to say "maybe" to the north some "spotty" snowfall. Of course they could be wrong. That's the point. Remember the evening of the all-night rush hour? That was last year and no one saw it coming.
Today, no snow but still handsome. Do you see a diamond sparkling in the brown?
A friend in Winston-Salem, NC, Ruth DeLapp Sartin, wrote to say, "It's already spring in the south. Daffodils are in full bloom. I do not like it. Unsettling. Shakespeare felt the same."
I'm not unsettled by the mild weather. Not liking the cold, I'm delighted. It's fun to be snow bunny only in places like Vermont, Colorado, Switzerland.
Still, this weather is sui strange. Groundhog Day is Thursday, the first day of spring is 52 days away.
Snowmaggedon 2010 happened on February 11. Right now the forecast for Feb 11 is for temps in the 40s. Please, no precip.
After all the forecast drama of the devastating impact Hurricane Irene was to have on the Carolina coast and mid-Atlantic states, it's ironic that the state that seems hardest is Vermont. Their governor didn't appear on television or enforce evacuations in advance, or any of the other preparations that happened down south, and yet, and yet.
It's a shame the Monday morning experts are second-guessing the National Hurricane Center and others who sounded the alarm about Irene. It's a storm. Even with all the best technology, it's still impossible to know exactly what will happen. And after Katrina, no federal, state or town official will dare risk being underprepared. Can you blame them? Imagine the backlash then?
At the very least, here at home, I got my gutters cleaned and my roof checked and fresh batteries in the flashlights and stocked enough water for the week. We were fortunate in DC, and hopefully will remain so as the "hurricane season" plays out. A fresh Cape Verde tropical storm, Katia, was just born and is expected to become a hurricane by Thursday.
Washington was lucky. The earthquake that began the week, while scary, was not horrible. Hurricane Irene, ending the week, while a threat, did not cause widespread damage. ON New York Social Diary today I wrap-up my experiences with pictures. Read it here.
Several inches of rain fell in a short time. My curiosity now is whether the run-off from up north will cause Potomac flooding downstream in Georgetown and Alexandria?
An early morning tour of Georgetown showed the neighborhood survived Hurricane Irene with minimal damage, at least in terms of fallen trees. Most streets were clear, but not all. There were several trees down, notably this one on Dent Place. Also, a big tree came down at Georgetown University, crashing through the iron fence.
There were the inevitable trees-fallen-on-cars. I feel for owners who park their cars under these vulnerable DC street trees in any kind of weather, perhaps not knowing it's a gamble. DC weather veterans know that in wind or snow it is best to park away from the street trees. Unlike in the parks or gardens, they have no place for their roots to grow. Again, look the pic up top. Note how small the root base is in relation to the tree. Here's another look, along with a few other photos shot between 7 and 7:30 Sunday morning:
Ruth and Simon Jacobsen hosted a hurricane cocktail party this evening where the cocktail du soir was a Dark 'n Stormy. Simon makes a Force 9 Dark n' Stormy, meaning he uses powerful 151 proof Gosling's Rum, which he mixes with Ginger Beer, and a wedge of lime, over ice. At that wattage it is a drink you sip gently, sparingly. Otherwise, you become the hurricane. It was fun to photograph, though.
I was impressed that some of the guests traveled distances -- like, from Northern Virginia -- while others of us walked a few blocks in the wind and rain. Everyone laughed because the New York airports are closed but Reagan National is still open with flights coming in and going out. Does that mean DC is at long last tougher than NY? We wondered. The other topic was whether we'd lose power in Georgetown. Half said "yes," and half said "no."
I got a message from the Bayou that they are hosting a public "Hurricane Party" tonight with actual hurricanes - as in the drink. The message said, "Come ride out the storm with authentic New Orleans style hurricanes, gumbo and live music." But, please, no New Orleans style storm. The Bayou is at 2519 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The drinks are $5, the gumbo is $3. "All night," the message said. The entertainment is Zachary Smith and the Dixie Power Trio. Go for it.
Runners, walkers, shoppers and tourists took full advantage of the morning and early afternoon, as the heavy rain held off, but by 4 and 5 o'clock the rains and wind were across Washington. Jim Spellman and I went to Martin's for martinis. Great fun, especially to see a Nathans veteran, Aniko, behind the bar. We returned to my house for lunch and Weather Channel watching.
The forecasters say the "worst" will come between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. For what it's worth, if you need anything, the shelves at CVS are stocked and there haven't seemed to be any lines.
Cloudy, a few light gusts of breeze. Rain started just before 11 am. The Farmer's Market was open, thankfully, but half its usual size. Still, very busy. It had lines like the supermarket. Gorgeous tomatoes, red peppers, green beans, peaches, melons. I'm sure they will try to stay open until their usual closing time, 1 pm, unless they run out of food. btw, for the best online weather-watching, go to weatherunderground.com. They even have a little weather gauge where you can watch the wind speed in real time.
Got in a walk before the rain. I have compassion for the Georgetown University parents who are moving their students into the dorms today. Not fun under any circumstances but extra stressful in wind and rain.
Stopped by Cafe Milano, where manager Laurent Menoud packed away the outdoor tables and chairs and put down a special absorbent mat in the front. "People are calling to ask if we're open," he said. "Of course we're open. This is not going to be that bad." I think he's correct. Certainly not bad enough to miss a Saturday lunch or dinner at Milano. In fact, the opposite. Have a "Naked Martini," relax and watch the storm.
On the other hand, the Apple store had workers busy boarding up in prep for a Cat 4 storm. When you have money to spend you spend. Or maybe their glass is cheap and can't withstand a 40-50 knot gust. Whatevs.
Reliably, Georgetown Cupcake had a line of customers waiting to buy hurricane cupcakes. If you are looking for a market that has no lines but lots of food, stop by Dean & Deluca. it was near empty at 10:15 am.
And.. the recipe of the day, straight from Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans, where it was created and made famous.
It's a warm and steamy night in Washington, but we had a beautiful sunset. The calm before. But with the humidity at almost 80% we need something to bring in dry and cooler air. Irene will do that, but I'm hoping not with the impact initially forecast. She is said to be losing a little energy tonight, though that doesn't mean a whole helluva lot with a storm that's hundreds of miles wide.
I felt sorry for the restaurants on the Georgetown waterfront. They've been hit hard enough by the flood earlier this season, but tonight Washington Harbor has the gates up. Memo to Washington Harbor: the river doesn't flood before the storm. These businesses will lose the whole weekend. It would have been nice for them to have the gates down, the river view and therefore steady customers tonight. Interestingly, outside the gates it was beautiful (see photo above). Inside the gates it was empty, dreary and claustrophobic. Over at Sequoia, not blocked by gates, it was very busy. So, I felt for Nick's Riverside Seafood and The Sports Junkies, who were having a party there. Maybe it will fill up later, after 10pm.
Seems to me that Washington Harbor management could have raised the gates after midnight or in the morning.
I've heard from friends tonight who are doing last minute shopping. The markets are jammed. I've heard from friends evacuating the shore. The highways are jammed. The streets of Georgetown were busy. Some restaurants were busy, like Sequoia, but others only half filled. Their customers were standing in line or stuck in traffic. But still good to be out tonight because tomorrow night it will be all about hunkering down. Up in the residential area, the thick air was thick with the scent of backyard grills.SENSIBLE SANDBAGGING AT THE COLONIAL PARKING GARAGE ON K STREET
It was interesting to see who has sandbags out. For example, the Bebe boutique on Wisconsin above M. They have sandbags in front and are boarded up. That may be a little much. If the Potomac rises to that level, Bebe and everyone else will have bigger problems than what sandbags can resolve. On the other hand, it makes total sense that the Colonial Parking garage on K is fronted by sandbags and a plastic barrier. They have been flooded before.
Did you receive the pre-recorded phone message from Pepco today, saying basically the power may go out and now that we've warned you we're off the hook. We'll get to it, but don't be driving us crazy with complaints because, see, we've told you it could happen.
This evening at 6:30 there was an announcement that Mayor Vincent Gray had declared a State of Emergency in DC. That's good. It's a means of preparing for the worst but hoping for the best. Also, this announcement about sandbags:
The DC Department of Public Works said today that the demand for sandbags by District residents exceeded its supply of about 7,000 bags. As a result, DPW discontinued distributing bags at 5 pm. DPW will receive a shipment of about 2,700 bags by Saturday morning that will be available for pick up by District residents starting at noon, Saturday, August 27, on a first-come, first-served basis. Residents, with DC identification, may pick up sandbags (up to five per household) at its New Jersey Avenue and K Street, SE site (entrance on New Jersey at I Street, SE). Distribution will continue until the supply is exhausted. The sandbags weigh between 40 lbs. and 50 lbs. and residents will need to load them into their vehicles.
Am I the only DC resident who wonders why we haven't heard anything about hurricane prep from DC Mayor Vincent Gray or the City Council? The 11 o'clock news just happened and no voice of reassrance from our city. Through emails I know of the plans of Amtrak, Pepco, the MLK dedication, and others...but nothing from our elected leaders.
The governors of Virginia and Maryland have made decisions, declaring states of emergency, the mayors of New York and Philadelphia have made public statements to their citizens, but I've done a lot of searching and have not been able to find anything about the hurricane from the DC Government.
I know it's more symbolic than anything, because a Mayor cannot control the course of a storm, but part of the symbolic role is to at least talk about expected major events with awareness and forethought. Or am I being silly?
Do they think if we ignore it the storm won't come? I hope that works. I welcome the rain, but not torrents, and amscray on the wind.
UPDATE: DC Alert that came in at 6:34pm
The National Weather Service has issued a TROPICAL STORM WATCH for the entire District of Columbia metro area.
The 5PM update from the National Hurricane Center now shows Hurricane Irene coming close enough to the District to potentially cause Tropical Storm force wind gusts of 30-60 mph, with higher gusts closer to the shore. In light of that threat, NWS Baltimore/Washington has chosen to issue a Tropical Storm Watch for our area.
The details of the forecast track for Irene are subject to change for better or worse over today and tomorrow. Please stay closely tuned in to local media and Alert DC for important updates.
The outer bands of the storm, which could include significant rainfall and wind gusts, are expected to arrive on Saturday afternoon and continue into Sunday.
For a graphic of the current forecast track for the storm, please see http://bit.ly/Irene5PMThurs
Make sure you have a battery-operated radio for news updates and possible evacuation routes.
Prepare or grab your Emergency Go Kit, which should have enough food and water for 3 days. More info athttp://bit.ly/EmergGoKit
Fill up your car with fuel.
Prepare to bring pets inside.
Stay inside during the storm if you do not evacuate.
Go to the first or second floor if you're in a multi-story building.
Do not walk or drive through moving water.
Prepare for likely power outages.
Report any downed power lines immediately.
Sent by Kevin Kornreich (DC HSEMA) to e-mail, pagers, cell phones....powered by Cooper Notification RSAN
This message came in this afternoon from a friend in Annapolis. It pertains mostly to people who live on or near the Bay, have boats in the water or at a dock, though most boat owners today are pulling their craft from the water.
"I just finished a briefing from the Coast Guard in which they emphasized the atmospheric instability that has made predicting the movements of Hurricane Irene difficult.
"At this point (2 p.m. Thursday) their forecast has Irene centered over the Delmarva Peninsula at 8 a.m. Sunday as a Category 2 hurricane. Category 2 means sustained winds of 96 - 110 MPH close to the eye. It would take only a minor further westward shift in the projected track to place those winds directly over Annapolis.
"The Coast Guard urges that, while we all hope it will not be that strong, we prepare for it to be. Category 2 winds are strong enough to turn almost anything that is not tied down into a dangerous projectile, shred furled sails, and wreck exposed canvas structures such as biminis and dodgers.
"We urge you to take this storm seriously. Check your boats and homes with particular attention to projectile risks; follow the available guidance on how to protect people and property from both wind and surge effects; and prepare to hunker down in a safe place as the height of the storm approaches."
I stopped by CitBar last night, also known as the bar at Citronelle, to get a measure of what neighbors were saying after the earthquake. Sure enough, it was busy, with Georgetowners out to share their stories, have a cool drink, a good meal at the bar. To a one, they had stories, including Jean-Jacques, the manager, and California earthquake veteran, who said his neighbor in northwest lost a chimney. He also said, given his California experience, that the DC quake counted as a legit quake. "It was the real thing." Yes, it was, even though I, in my car, missed the experience.
Angel, Sergio and Jacob, who were behind the bar, all in good spirits, making all kinds of crazy craft drinks with lots of fresh juices and other tasty ingredients. Good news for lovers of the city's best Cosmpolitan: the raspberries are back in stock. Also popular, the Mojito made with champagne and lots of mint, and the fresh squeezed lemonade. They also have an excellent rose on the menu of wines by the glass.
What were people eating? Plates of smoked salmon with toasted brioche bread, the platter of paper thin prosciutto, the excellent oyster shooters, mini burgers, French fries, chopped salad, and a yummy miso soup. If you go, don't deny yourself the Crepes Suzette.
Remember: they start serving at 3 pm and have outside tables. I've experienced all kinds of weather here (blizzards are great, even a torrential rainstorm, sitting outside under the awning), and it would work well for a hurricane, too.
Jiminy Glick Cricket what's happening here? Shortly after 9 o'clock Monday night the Potomac was expected to gush over its banks in Georgetown, splashing up and onto K Street. Not an unheard of event but reliably spectacular. Earlier in the day, approximately 5 pm, teams of workers surrounded the Washington Harbor complex, pumping water from the deluged garage and basement restaurants. Piles of sandbags could be seen in front of other office buildings. Lots and lots and lots of yellow "caution" tape. Also lots of local TV satellite trucks.
Based on the numbers of Pepco trucks, private security guards and guys in rubber boots I would surmise Washington Harbor had a mess on hand. (Later reported the whole inner restaurant area fully flooded because the building owner did not get the flood gates up in time). While access was denied in certain areas it was easy to get to the riverfront at the Waterfront Park and near the Swedish Embassy and the boat house.
You know what they say about snakes and floods? That the floods fill the streets with slithering reptiles. Well, it may be true, even in Georgetown. As I walked along the almost flooded canal path behind the Swedish Embassy I came upon an actual snake! eek! Given its size -- not much bigger than a pencil -- I was actually afraid for its safety. A woman came along and helped urge it across the concrete before some snake hater smushed it. She said this particular type of snake was harmless and lived on bugs and cockroaches. That is a useful snake and worth saving.
Everywhere I walked there were people taking pictures of the rushing water. It moved seriously fast. At one point a whole tree raced by. Not a trunk, not a few limbs, and not a baby tree, but a great big full grown tree, rollin' on the river.
Back before Potomac flooding in Georgetown became a media event I lived half a block up from K Street, at the James Place apartments. A spring or fall flood would happen annually. This was a time before Washington Harbor and flood gates. The water simply jumped the banks and engulfed K Street. We'd walk down to the corner and watch. There at 30th and K was the momentary "new" bank of the Potomac. The adjacent basement parking garages got flooded. OUTSIDE A PARKING GARAGE AT 30TH AND K STREETS
I know you are asking: what does any of this have to do with Charlie Sheen? Only that during my walkabout I noted two expensive and luxurious tour bosses, the Prevost kind used by many big name acts. I'm familiar with the in's and out's of tour busses due to my friendship with a band called Spinal Tap. I actually once rode on their bus. Forever after I've wanted to run away with the band (almost any band) on one of those seriously pimped out rides. It's possible Charlie is using high end busses for his tour. One for himself and the "goddesses" and another for staff and crew. It's so much easier than flying from city to city to city.
The two busses I noticed are parked on Wisconsin at the Ritz Carlton Georgetown. One is seriously black and oversized, the other is more conventional. Typically, when on tour, the "act" comes into town the night before a concert -- Charlie is performing here Tuesday night -- and, as the "talent," moves into a luxury hotel; the bus (or busses, and staff,) chill outside. Charlie, er, would be the talent. Ah, I understand that the "goddesses" also qualify as talent, possibly more than Charlie. Note: reports have him down to one goddess; life is rough in the violent torpedo of truth business.
I have no earthly idea whether these busses do, in fact, belong to Charlie Sheen. I'm surmising based on experience. They could belong to Dave Brubeck, who's at Blues Alley.
Bottom line: get out of the house, get down to the waterfront, have a flood dinner picnic, enjoy the spectacle, and on your way back up Wisconsin, knock on the bus door and ask for "Charlie." And then let me know.
btw, high tide again tomorrow morning.
What kind of day is this? At dawn it was clear and bright, then blood ran in the streets and gnats clogged the air. No, I mean, then it got dark, then light, then rain, then sunshine, then dark again, then hail, now a mix of clouds, rain and a muddy sky. I'm kidding about the Plagues of Egypt. At least for today.
I happened to outside when the hail fell. A rain of Tic Tacs. Not particularly cold at the time. The balls of ice landed, bounced, landed again, and melted into the pavement and earth. They made a wonderful racket as they hit the village's many metal rooftops and the tops of cars. Not big enough to do any damage, fortunately. I've been in a storm with hail the size of eggs. They can leave some awful (and expensive) dents in automobiles.
Good news: tomorrow's forecast is for sunshine and a high of 60 degrees. Hello blossoms.
The summer is a good time to catch up with past episodes of The Q&A Cafe from the archives, including the above interview with Ben Bradlee, Quinn Bradlee & Sally Quinn, available on the YouTube link below. We will tape new shows, too. Watch on Friday evenings at 8 o'clock on Comcast channel 16, DCN.
Author, interviewer, and photographer. Read more...
Here is information for book clubs that have chosen Innocent Spouse: Book Club Discussions...