Monday, August 29, 2011

At Home with Hurricane Irene

For the past 2 years, I've operated a weather station which provides realtime data for Wellesley, Massachusetts to the National Weather Service, the Citizens Weather Observation Program, and Weather Underground.

If you search Google for Weather Wellesley, you'll get my data.

For graphs of the temperature, barometric pressure, wind speed, wind direction, and rainfall rate during Irene, here's a summary from Weather Underground.

To prepare for the storm, I took down flags, removed hanging bird houses, and stored every object that could become a projectile in the wind.

Interestingly, we never had sustained winds more than 10 mph.  Our peak gust was 17 mph.    Likely, the impact of the storm on my location was much less than the surrounding neighborhood because of the grove of old hemlocks nearby that serves as a windbreak.

However, we did have a substantial amount of rain - 2.24 inches on Sunday and 4.66 inches in 24 hours related to Irene.

I retrofitted all our gutters with extenders to push water away from the house and sandbagged the bulkhead to our basement, just in case standing water accumulated in the backyard.

The key technology that saved our house was not anything wind related, but was the disaster recovery sump pump I created last year.

At the height of rain intensity, a tree down the street collapsed. due to the weight of water on its leaf canopy, and fell through power lines.   The Department of Water and Power cut power to the neighborhood to do the repair.

Water began rising in my basement drains and as designed, the battery backup sump pump worked perfectly, pumping the basement dry despite the loss of power.

Installing a battery backup sump pump makes great sense - the likelihood is that in the worst storms, you'll also lose power, so having an AC powered sump pump will not help you (unless you engineer a complete alternative power solution for your home)

If my neighborhood was typical, the storm did have a profound impact.   Down the street, a tree fell into two cars.   My father in law lost a portion of his entry roof.   Downed limbs have impacted traffic flows throughout the area.

However, our engineered systems for power backup and water control plus our preparation for the storm made our experience of Irene, our first hurricane, uneventful.

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