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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/28/2009

Reflecting on Hurricane Gloria

By Ann Posegate

* Fresh, crisp autumn air coming: Full Forecast | NatCast *

Hurricane Gloria lashes the coast of New England, 24 years ago. Image courtesy NOAA.

Weather - especially severe weather - has a way of teaching us lessons, reminding us of our limitations as humans and stirring our curiosity. Hurricane Gloria did this for me.

I remember it well. It was late September, 1985, and fall had already begun to set in throughout Connecticut. I was young. We were gathered at my aunt and uncle's house, and my mother, aunt, uncle, cousins and I were sitting comfortably in the living room listening to the weather report on the radio.

I could not contain my curiosity any longer and decided to go for it. I walked to the front door, opened it and looked out at the gray, windy day. It was like none that I had seen before. I wanted to go outside, so I began to turn the handle of the screen door. I faintly heard "No, Annie!" in the background, but paid no attention. I didn't understand what the big deal was.

Milliseconds later, I knew. As I pushed the screen door open, a hurricane-force wind gust took hold of the lightweight frame of mesh and metal and flung it open. I held on tightly to the handle, my feet now parallel with the ground, and proceeded to get swung across the front porch. I eventually let go and landed with a "thump" on the floor of the porch.

Wow, what was that?

My mother ran out to check on me; I had not been injured (maybe bruised), only scared and embarrassed...and later, curious.

Hurricane Gloria taught me never to mess with Mother Nature again. Even though I have never lived this moment down (to this day, my cousin still jokingly reminds me of this incident at every family party...I can imagine it had looked like an "America's Funniest Home Videos" winner from his point of view), I also attribute my intense curiosity in the power of weather to this storm and other close encounters with severe weather I had as a child. Perhaps those of us who witness fascinating or dangerous weather at an early age are also those who become weather enthusiasts or scientists later in life.

What weather event did this for you? What is your first memory that led to your interest in weather -- your first encounter with the sky that made an impression on you? Share your story by commenting below.

By Ann Posegate  | September 28, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Posegate, Tropical Weather  
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Boston area . . . blizzard of '78. That's the one that sticks in the mind, at least. Do I need to lay it out for everyone? The snow forts and snow tunnels were hellafun.

Posted by: ah___ | September 28, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Editorial note: Your interest gets *piqued*, not "peaked". From the French piquer, to prick.

Posted by: RaggedClaws | September 28, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I remember Gloria vividly. I will never forget going out on the street during the eye and seeing everyone looking around at the destruction in amazement. Within 30 minutes, the winds were back and everyone ran back inside. We lost about 50% of the trees on our property on long island and had no power for a week.

Posted by: Tom8 | September 28, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

When I was ten, the camp I was attending took the whole group to the state fair. This was in North Carolina, and it was a small, friendly event. I and a lot of the other kids were under a metal awning watching as a blue grass band set up to play on a small stage. Wooden, theater-style chairs, bolted to the cement floor, stopped about 8 inches from the poles holding up the corrugated tin awning over the concert seating.

While we waited, we watched a storm come up suddenly. If you've been involved in southern storms, you know how this goes: the deepening black, the sudden outrush of air as the pressure drops precipitously, that smell of the wet gust just before the heavens open and drops the size of decent water balloons start bombarding you.

Well behind the stage was a large transformer set up. First, lightning hit back in the fields in the distance and started a couple of decent fires. Then lightning hit the transformer, and it erupted in sparks and power went down for the fair. Now, of course, there were no loudspeakers to coordinate what people should do, or how groups should recongregate. Everybody huddled up in the middle of the seats to get some protection from what was sure to be blowing rain any second now. We were singing songs and laughing, trying to keep each other entertained while we waited.

There was a sound like an explosion. My ears were ringing so loudly, I couldn't tell how close the sounds were to each other or what caused them. I looked up to see that there was a singed spot in the top of the tin roof, and that the first and last row of seats were basically smoking (although they didn't appear to be burning). No one was sitting in those seats. Apparently, lightning hit the roof and had jumped from the metal support poles to the metal seat supports for the first and last rows of seats. Needless to say, we got out of there immediately and got soaking wet making our way back to the vans that had brought us to the fair.

I've seen plenty of extreme weather since - several tornadoes, several hurricanes, plenty of hail. . . but that was when I first realized what nature could do. I've been a storm junkie all my life.

Posted by: BadMommy1 | September 28, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I was a sophomore in high school living on Long Island in September 1985. I remember Gloria vividly. We were in the eye for a short period when it made landfall. Although Gloria wasn't as bad as was advertised the day before the storm hit, it was bad enough. No power for 7 days...trees down everywhere. The only good point was that school was closed for 7 days.

Posted by: mickb1 | September 28, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

It may have been the storm that sat over the Conemaugh Valley causing the Johnstown Flood in rained, and rained, and rained for hours that night. But I remember many previous storms when I lived in western Pennsylvania: Beautiful, violent spasms in the sky with frightening lightening and black clouds, but also good, long, soaking rains that sang on the eves and windowsills, making the corn grow. Well, but then there were the long, slow summer days with clear blue skies that stretched forever, and the snowstorms that socked us in for a day or so more than once.

No matter how far back I look in my life, I can't recall a time when I didn't acknowledge the weather as the coolest thing around.

Posted by: --sg | September 28, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

All great stories (and some quite scary). Thanks for sharing.

Posted by: Ann-CapitalWeatherGang | September 28, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Back before I was even 10 years old in the 1960's I watched "The Wizard of Oz" on TV. I saw the tornado and I wanted to go up to it and touch it. (My sister was hiding her face in the couch with fear.) I wanted to be a Meteorologist from that day forward.

Now that I have a 5 year-old I make sure I wake her up to watch the evening lightning shows of summer or go outside to walk barefoot in the asphalt-warmed streams after a downpour with the receding thunder as accompaniment. I'm proud that she is not afraid, but rather appropriately filled with awe and wonder.

She also told me last night that the phase of the moon was "waxing gibbous". You bet I'm proud...

Posted by: ASColletti | September 29, 2009 5:50 AM | Report abuse

Hurricane Gloria did it for me too! I grew up on Long Island and remember not having power for a week and a birdhouse that I had finished that summer and hung nicely in a tree in my family's backyard got taken down with the tree.

Posted by: ajb288 | September 30, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

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