Bracing for the ‘Beast from the East’

Monday/Tuesday (all week)

There was a ‘run’ on milk in Roscommon town on Tuesday. And the sun was splitting the stones.

  By Tuesday evening, word was that the crisis was over, for then at least, in that milk had become available.

  Mind you, later that night on TV3, Matt Cooper/Ivan Yates showed er…dramatic footage of bare-shelved supermarkets, people seemingly buying up essentials as if there was no tomorrow.

  Or rather ‘as if there was snow tomorrow,’ which I gather there will be. At this stage, after all we’ve been through, there had better be.

  What a few days it’s been! Some of the ‘old people’ must think we’re losing the run of ourselves.  

  These are heady, heady days. For well over a week, the nation has been living in a state of dread, dread of what’s coming, dread of the apocalyptic event that we knew we could not prevent.

  And, sure enough, poor ould Marty got booted out of Dancing with the Stars. Apocalyptic indeed, but it’s not as if we hadn’t been warned – he’s been rubbish for weeks. 

   More than that, there’s been the never-ending fear of the ‘weather event’ that’s on its way.  

  Some of the old people – the initial guardians of our young state – must indeed think we are losing the run of ourselves. 

  Even when I was a young fella, back in the early 1970s, there was no talk of ‘weather events’, no mass media coverage of what might happen, no fancy naming of storms and gales and fleeting winds.

  These days, ‘weather events’ have become big business, an almost permanent crisis on our doorstep, even a potential political timebomb.

  For the past week or so the nation has been gripped by what it might be gripped by from midweek. 

   I can hardly remember what life was like in Ireland BC – before Cusack. Evelyn is everywhere. Years ago, the weather just happened, and the odd television or radio station we had just updated us every now and again through a po-faced grimly-dressed weather forecaster.

  Now, we live in an era of glamorous weather forecasters (although winking Gerald is gone), while the aforementioned Evelyn seems to live in a Star Trek type engine room, the Met Éireann hub in which our fate and faith rests.

  And I still haven’t worked out whether or not the omnipresent Evelyn wants to be on television or not, because while she pops up all over the media, she sometimes comes across as ever so slightly abrupt, even eccentric. She can be as scattered as some of her showers.

  I first noticed this side of her with her very haughty dismissal of an amateur (you know, the ‘postman from Donegal’ type) weather forecaster during a Liveline debate a few years ago. Evelyn has a major hump with ‘unconventional’ forecasters, as she’s entitled to – after all, she’s in the scientific end of the business. She’s quirky in her interviews; on balance, I think she likes being the centre of our universe at times like this.

  Indeed, at the pre-mentioned times like this, all sorts of experts are wheeled out and suddenly almost every television and radio show has one on, explaining the difference between orange and yellow warnings, half of them falling just short of having a legal advisor beside them for fear of the dreaded post-event charge of having got it all wrong.

  This fear of ‘getting it all wrong’ or even of a public perception of having over-reacted or under-reacted is particularly concentrating the minds of senior politicians.

  A Government is unlikely to fall over a misdiagnosed ‘weather event’ but it could slip in the polls if it makes a mess of things, and this Government, high on its Storm Ophelia success, is taking no chances this week!

  Minister Eoghan Murphy is being careful not to say a word out of place, fearful of any hostage to fortune – but in fairness, he’s doing a diligent ‘weather watch/warning’ job so far. Leo, who had enough Orange Alerts thanks to Arlene last week, has been low profile enough as of yet, but no doubt he’ll brave the elements for some photo opportunities later this week, and who could blame him!

  It’s 12 noon on Tuesday as a write, and the weather is defiantly summer-y, well, it’s a bit cold, but still very pleasant. But, by all accounts, bad stuff is coming from Wednesday night/Thursday morning – the ‘Beast from the East’ to Leinster, with snow and storms in tow for the rest of the country. Expect most of the kids in the country to be very happy, and (though he won’t show it), RTE’s Paschal Sheehy, if he’s honest, will be in his element too.

  On a serious note…take care, get the bread and milk in, do drive carefully or not at all, and watch out for elderly family and neighbours. Most of all, do not take any chances on the roads. 

  Now, all we can do is wait. Now, it’s over to Evelyn. Evelyn, in whom we trust, Evelyn, our Everywoman. Evelyn for President if this madness continues.

* In other news (held over due to lack of space): Syria, vulture funds, gang crime and other stuff that has nothing to do with the weather.

An update (Wednesday)

Okay, fair enough, it looks like the warnings may indeed have been accurate enough; I wrote above over Monday and Tuesday…this morning (Wednesday) we awake to snow and a notable drop in temperature.

  Driving to school, and on Morning Ireland, Bryan Dobson is receiving reports from around the country. He goes to Cork. Direct quote from Paschal Sheehy at 8.42 am: “I am looking out at a spectacular winter wonderland”. I knew it! He’s secretly delighted! Paschal’s expression or tone will never reveal it, but, deep down, he loves the ould bit of drama. 

  The roads in town are grand just now, but certainly there was an early blast from the beast in rural Roscommon this morning. Now it’s becoming obvious that some rough conditions are indeed ahead. By the time you read this on Thursday or Friday, I imagine we may be in standstill mode.

  I’m off to chase up some milk and bread.