Manassas Journal Messenger | Isabel

It’s time to break out the weather rock.

The weather rock is a small stone suspended by a string and used for weather forecasting. When the rock is white, it’s snowing. When the rock is wet, it’s raining. When the rock and string are parallel to the ground, you’re in a hurricane.

That’s not to say that something as serious as a hurricane should be taken lightly. Weather phenomena, such as hurricanes and blizzards, are unpredictable and sometimes deadly. They also cause power outages and road closures that affect everyone.

The problem with such storms is predicting what they’ll do. Even though our meteorologists are armed with “super Doppler” technology, predicting the true path of hurricanes involves too many variables.

How often has CNN sent a suffering correspondent to the Outer Banks of North Carolina only to watch them give reports of partly cloudy skies and 1-foot waves. You can almost see the disappointment in their eyes.

Whether or not Northern Virginia gets hammered by the full force of a Category 2 hurricane has yet to be determined, but residents should at least be prepared. Flashlights are the most overlooked item. When the lights go out, people are left fumbling around in the dark trying to find one that works. Bottled water is another oversight.

The main concept of hurricane preparedness is to remain informed as to what’s going on. The hurricane’s winds could be diminished by the time it reaches Northern Virginia, but the associated rain could bring severe flooding – another overlooked aspect of tropical weather.

For now, the path of Hurricane Isabel is only as certain as the next weather report. Hopefully, like many of its predecessors, it will head north and back out to sea.

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