This week anyone living in the Washington DC area learned a new word, Derecho. It's sudden introduction and overuse reminds me of the Bush/Gore 2000 election when you couldn't get away from "gravitas"..... once one journalist used it, it took off like a verbal rocket and still rears it's head occasionally at subsequent election times only to get a resounding nationwide shhhhhh
Anyway.... we had a derecho here last Friday apparently, pronounced de-ray-sho and according to Wikipedia, meaning a widespread and long lived, straight line windstorm associated with a band of severe thunderstorms which can exceed hurricane force, capable of striking with the force to knock down highway signs and trees. In other words, what we would previously have referred to as "a heck of a storm last night."
We were in Philadelphia for a live taping of Radiolab at the Academy of Music, wonderful evening, didn't think much about the thunder during the night. We turned up at the station the next morning, happy and refreshed after a good night's sleep, to find hoards of people sitting around dejected and despairing, enormous delays and then the total cancelation of all trains south to DC. Unheard of disruption and no real information, at least none that was audible. We ended up schlepping back to the hotel to stay another night, turned on the tv and that's when we discovered that half the east coast was in total chaos without power, people killed by falling trees etc. We finally made it home on Sunday after interminable waiting around and testing of patience and some considerable concern about what we'd find waiting for us.
There are worse places to check your email of course..... the buildings in downtown Philly are very grand like this hotel lobby which is a converted bank. Even the Starbucks down the road had marble floors, walls and giant columns like this.