- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2003

We are interrupting the previously scheduled column to bring you this special weather bulletin: Hurricane Isabel is urging all news reporters to practice their eyes-bugged-out routine before grabbing a sturdy light pole along the coastline and bracing for the fierce winds, heavy rain and blowing debris.

Let’s go from our storm desk in the studio to our enterprising sleuth in the field.

Desk: How is it there?

Sleuth: Fierce winds. Heavy rain. Blowing debris. Now back to you.

Desk: Thank you. We now take you to Cumberland, Maryland, where it is snowing.

Seriously, this is not necessarily the perfect storm, if by perfect you mean George Clooney and Dirk Diggler are saying goodbye from their submerged vessel in the ocean.

Yet, apparently, it is strong enough, at least 7.0 on the Richter scale.

By the way, can we get another picture of the surf?

Whoa. Wow. That is serious stuff.

There is always one surfer in the water, one television news crew in the vicinity, while the rest of the place is deserted.

Have you ever wondered why that is? How does the television news crew always find the one surfer with a death wish? Is the person on retainer or something? Does the television crew fly the guy to the spot, plop him in the water and go from there?

There are certain rules to follow around the hysteria.

You must go to Home Depot and purchase a generator, except Home Depot is out of generators, so you must buy duct tape and plenty of plastic sheeting.

Oops. Wrong alert. Strike that last advisory.

It is hard to keep up with all of it.

There is the mandatory rush on bread, milk and toilet paper if a one-flake blizzard is in the offing, a run on duct tape and plastic sheeting if Osama bin Laden is having a bad day with his goat herd, and a call to decorate your home with plywood if there is a mean, old hurricane bearing down on us.

Could you hurry up, Hurricane Isabel?

We do not have all year. The Redskins are at home against the Giants this Sunday.

It would be nice if you were not in the mix by then. Plus, you have overtaken the airwaves.

You have everyone in a lather, notably J-Lo and some vanilla-looking guy named Ben.

They have called it all off, the marriage as well as the relationship. Here is hoping they can remain great friends, because America would feel a whole lot better about itself if J-Lo and some vanilla-looking guy named Ben remain on good terms, especially those Americans looking for bottled water.

Thousands of residents have fled the coastline of Virginia and North Carolina, while thousands of reporters, in full rain gear, have descended on the area.

We are in a state of emergency, the National Guard has been mobilized, and Virginia Gov. Mark Warner says, “This is, in terms of predictions, perhaps the worst storm we’ve seen in decades.”

It is?

That hardly is being fair to Hurricane Floyd in 1999 and to Hurricane Fran in 1996.

Meanwhile, the best reporters are looking to shout the latest developments from a midair position horizontal to the ground, with one hand on the microphone and the other clutching a street sign.

Hurricane Isabel is a Category Cataclysmic piece of work at the moment. But you never know. There is a mass of warm air that is up to no good, and there is a mass of birds coming down from Canada. The combination could be interesting.

Our super-duper Doppler radar is advising residents in the Washington region to freak out, preferably after trimming the trees in their yards.

Batteries? Do you have batteries on hand?

You need sandbags as well.

The latter goes double for the eternally flooded-out residents of Point of Rocks, Md., where life on a flood plain of the Potomac River follows a predictable pattern. When it rains, it floods.

Now for another update from our enterprising sleuth in the field.

Desk: How is it thaere?

Sleuth: Fierce winds. Heavy rain. Blowing debris.

Imagine that.

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