‘Frankenstorm’ Makes Paranoid Parents Even More Paranoid

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The Weather Channel and almost every other media outlet on the planet really needs to stop freaking me out.

Do you know what it is like to live in a major metropolitan city when state-of-emergency is called due to weather?  I do.  Not because I lived through a crazy, end-of-days-style storm, but because I reaped the rewards of over-preparing for the last ominous weather front that moved through NYC.  You may remember it as Hurricane Irene.  I remember it as Sort-of-Heavy-Rainstorm Irene.

For a week before Irene made landfall, residents of NYC were warned about the chaos that would ensue.  Mayor Bloomberg even evacuated parts of lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.  Our transit system was shut down.  I spent the week boiling water, panicking that I didn’t have enough formula, stocking up on batteries, oh – and did I mention boiling water?  It’s worth mentioning again due to the quantity I actually reserved.  My child was nine months old and I was convinced something awful would happen if I didn’t have three weeks worth of water at my disposal.

I’m usually a pretty reasonable person.  But something happens to your psyche when it is receiving Danger! Danger!  signals all day.  The most reasonable among us will become really paranoid messes.  Do you doubt this statement?  If you live on the East Coast, check your Facebook feed for a minute.  How many of your friends are freaked out about this? You may argue that is pretty much what social media is for – and you would be right.  Here is a better example: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration dubbed the name before the storm even formed.  From CNN:

Naming tropical storms has been common practice for decades, in no small part because it helps meteorologists raise awareness and helps the media and the public keep track

But rare is the storm that gets a name three days before it’s even formed.

This is the case with “Frankenstorm,” the name that news and social media gave to a superstorm that could happen if Hurricane Sandy – churning Friday a couple hundred miles off Florida’s east coast – merges with a strong cold front from the west next week. Such a storm could sit over New England for days, making untold trouble for millions.

Clearly, this is something everyone has to worry about, not just parents.  But an interesting thing happens when you become a parent.  You become responsible for keeping another human being alive through rain, heat, and gloom of night.  So I can’t just, for example, go to one of the many “hunkering down for the storm parties” that will no doubt be happening.  I actually have to take these threats seriously.  That is a huge bummer considering how much of our news is completely over-sensationalized.

“There is potential for widespread power outages, not just for a couple of days but for a couple of weeks or more, if the storm stays on track,” said meteorologist Kathy Orr of CNN affiliate KYW-TV in Philadelphia. The computer weather predictions are murky, but by Friday afternoon, it seemed unlikely the storm would bring freezing rain or snow to the coast. Snow is possible in mountain areas, including the Appalachians.

Translation: the computer weather predictions are murky, but this mom will still be staying up all night, watching the path of the storm and trying to figure out if any of the rooms in her floor-through brownstone apartment can function as a storm cellar.

(photo: Sergej Khakimullin/