Wednesday, June 12, 2013

THERE'S A WHAT COMIN'?


Well, I learned a new word today…derecho. For a writer and lifelong reader, that's kind of a big deal. Not on the magnitude of digging a hole in the back yard to plant a rose bush and inadvertently striking oil, or even spotting a breeze-blown five dollar bill in the grocery store parking lot. But at least as exciting as rooting around in the back of the refrigerator for breakfasting inspiration and discovering a forgotten slice of chocolate cake your daughter made for your birthday last month.

A kind of big deal from an admittedly modest perspective. And maybe a big deal given its omen value.

Derecho, as I encountered the word, is a meteorological term used describe an extensive windstorm—long-lived and fast-moving—which covers vast distances and produces severe straight-line winds. These winds are sustained and, unlike winds found with most thunderstorms, actually increase behind the passing front—typically exceeding hurricane force; as you might imagine, often damaging winds, indeed. Plus derechos carry the additional possibility of large hail and dangerous lightening, along with the wind and rain.

We all understand the Spanish-derived tornado means "twisted"…spinning or twisting winds; derecho also comes from the Spanish for "straight." Straight winds, marching like a battalion in a massive frontline long enough to stretch from north of Milwaukee south to Louisville, Kentucky. Tomorrow's east-bound derecho is predicted to begin in Iowa around midday, pass through Chicago in early afternoon, arrive hereabouts sometime later in the afternoon and—providing the front makes it intact across the Appalachians—visit Washington before evening…a town that could desperately use a good airing out.

Or things could just break up before they start, and the whole event turn into nothing more than a typical spate of late-spring thunderstorms. Nothing more than an overhasty muttering of doom-and-gloom. Bad for the weather folks and folketts, who take such dithering delight in pandering to our fears while doing their rough-and-ready standups amid the blow and drizzle.

But good for those of us always looking to add to our vocabulary.             

18 comments:

Penny said...

Hey Grizz, I couldnt read this post! What happened to the size of your script? Thought old age had finally caught up and I was going blind!

Grizz………… said...

Penny…

Can't have that…too small a typeface OR you thinking you'd been caught up by old age! See if this works better…and whether or not you like it. Is it readable?

I don't know what went wrong at Blogger; I didn't change anything, but my chosen typeface has grown much smaller lately. Not sure if this is the answer or if there's something better. I may have to redo the entire blog—which might not be a bad thing.

Debbie said...

I spent the day battening down the hatches. Ok, mostly grill, patio furniture, flag and plants. But it was HOT work! My daughter up near Chicago say they are getting some pretty dicey weather, but over here near Peoria I'm wondering if we are even going to get the rain. We need the rain.
Better safe than sorry. Hope you get the rain. I think the dericho is caput. Did I spell that right? :) Love the pic of that little woodpecker or sapsucker. Whichever, you got a great shot.
Debbie
PS Glad someone else mentioned the font size. I hated to say anything, but....

Grizz………… said...

Debbie…

I've battened down nothing, though I guess I ought to move the rockers closer to the wall on the side deck. But it's been hot here today—mid-90s—and I flat detest hot weather and tend to do as little as possible. We boreal types are like that. Guess I'll do whatever sounds prudent tomorrow morning.

You did not spell derecho right, it's another "e" instead of the "i" but who's looking? Lord knows I couldn't have spelled it right before my blog post, and probably won't be able to a week from now. I'd never in my life heard the word before today, yet in the course of my nature stuff have written and (I thought) read quite a bit about weather—fronts, cloud patterns; I know wind names—chinook, mistral, Santa Ana, sirocco, tramontana, and maybe a half-dozen others; literary names—zephyr, red wind, etc. But, no derecho. It was truly gone with the with from from my etymological arsenal. Alas, another example of my vast ignorance…which becomes increasingly vast and more apparent the older and wiser I get.

Finally, two things: The bird in the pix is a downy, the biggest little woodpecker on the planet. And PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! When I have a problem on the blog, forthwith and with no thought of polite reticence inform me there's something wrong and that I need to fix it straightaway. I'm a man, you know we me gotta be told and given a follow-up yank of the chain to drive the point home.

The Solitary Walker said...

Nice piece, Grizz.

I love those names for winds. And hadn't heard of 'derecho' either, but it makes sense (from the little Spanish I have).

Oh, and that font is still showing way too small, btw!

Judith said...

Well--a little wind but I guess Washington didn't get aired out. Will it ever?
Got the house pretty well painted yesterday, tho'
. Now for some trim'. That's a downy?
And we have a Baltimore oriole around. Wonder where it nests.
See 'ya.

Grizz………… said...

Solitary…

Yeah, I like such names, too—they give a sense of place, of history, of time and need and use, of passing seasons and old ways, they add color and richness to language, even a tongue-roll of poetry sometimes. Way better than flat scientific jargon.

I appreciate your mentioning the too-small type appearance. Something has changed with blogger. No matter what size I set the typeface, it comes out the same small size; all I'm doing now is choosing a bigger style, which isn't much of an improvement, I know. Right now, I have it set at 16 pts. which we both know is much larger than it actually appears. But I'm going to keep messing around and try to figure out how to improve things…and when/if I do, please let me know, as I'm not sure I can actually tell from my end of the process.

Grizz………… said...

Judith…

The wind is still to come here—if it comes. As to Washington, probably not enough wind circulating around the planet to air that place out. And, yup, a downy, male (red headcap).

Geeze, I probably need to paint some…

Gail said...

HI GRIZZ - well, ole Mother Nature is in full force and unpredictable rage it seems from coast to coast. I hope your derecho slips by unnoticed. Sometimes, I kinda hope for a fierce event, weird huh? I am energized by survival mode. Only for a day or two though, I am a spoiled gal that needs her electricity and hot water and A/C and/or heat depending on the season.
We are in the midst of heavy down pours and thunder storms, again. Suppose to clear later on Friday.
Oh, did I mention? We are finally closing on our condo, our home on The Trail on June 28th. There abouts. We are relieved and sad too. Bittersweet. Yup.
Ok then, I will stop by soon to wish you a Happy Father's Day.
Love to you my friend
Gail
peace...

The Weaver of Grass said...

I can't imagine that word being a lot of use Grizz, but those similes of yours are fantastic!

Grizz………… said...

Gail…

The predicted derecho fizzled, at least hereabouts, and last night's big rainstorm wasn't much, either—a good bang-and-flash thunderstorm about 1:30 a.m. that gave us a half-hour drenching.

That's really not a complaint. Though like you, I enjoy the occasional "event" if it's a mid-winter blizzard that snows you in and shuts the everyday world off for a few days. No power, no problem. I have lanterns and candles and camping stoves, sleeping bags, warm clothes, a well-stocked larder, and a dandy woodstove. Let the wins howl, and sleet rattle the windowpanes. I can cook, eat, sip coffee, read books, stay warm, and just be nice and cozy for a spell, thank you very much…and I enjoy it no end! Four or five days of such roughing it indoors is a welcome adventure.

Glad to hear you've sold your old place—but I understand about closing that door the final time. But really, look how well it has all worked out for you, how you've been provided for and blessed. There are plenty of great days to come; dwell in joy.

Grizz………… said...

Weaver…

I've never heard it, for sure, nor has anyone else I've asked—though it's claimed to have been first employed in this manner more than a century ago! Definitely not widely used, however.

Bernie said...

So enjoyed this post and your excitement of learning a new word.
Also happy that it passed by without any fan fare. Happy to pop in and read your words and the comments of your friends. Be well my friend.....big hugs :-)

Grizz………… said...

Bernie…

Hey, I'm tickled you stopped by for a visit! And, yes, for us writer types, words are tools, our stock in trade, the raw materials for making our scribblings richer, moodier, more precise—and the more words we have in our personal toolbox, the better job we can do.

Now here's the funny part re. derechos…I've since learned that hereabouts, one of the more significant derechos in recent decades occurred last year. Really? Who knew! I was here, but sure never realized I was experiencing such an event. No one I've asked remembers anything, either. Which makes me question the whole hoopla.

Derecho? New word…otherwise, so what? We yokels just thought it a bit breezy.

KGMom said...

I first heard about derechos last year--and I agree--it was a new one on me.

Grizz………… said...

KGMom…

What got me was that given my writing—much of which has always been nature/outdoor related, and thus weather cognizant—plus being a lifelong extensive and exhaustive reader, even if a word isn't in my habitual vocabulary, I've at least encountered it in passing a time or two. But derecho was brand new. I even checked several of the dozen or so weather books on my reference shelf…nada; not a single mention. Derecho the word has been hiding well.

Jennifer A. Jilks said...

I stumped my TV meteorologist with crepuscular clouds a few months ago! Aren't words grand?

Grizz………… said...

Jennifer…

Words are grand, indeed! And being a wordslinger, of course there my stock in trade…the tools for painting the scene, telling the story, making what's in my head appear magically in the heads of my audience.'s a fine word. Now, crepuscular I know and use—and it's a fine, descriptive word—but derecho was totally unknown, which really, is pretty rare for me. I'm glad you educated that TV meteorologist; bet you can do the same with derecho.