This past weekend, I took a few days to go relax in Barbados and see the sights. The weather was perfect the entire time (save for one quick 30-minute shower), and the temperature never dipped below 80 F. The sun was scorching hot, the air thick with humidity, and every bit of me that was exposed got tanned almost immediately.
So, when I talked to my father on the phone during the middle of my stay, I was defensive when he told me that a huge weather system was approaching and for me to be careful. I explained to him that Barbados is so far east in the Caribbean, that it rarely gets hit with any hurricane weather. That’s when he surprised me by saying that it’s New York City that’s in danger.
It seems that when I was on my way down to Barbados, Hurricane Sandy was forming and moving over Jamaica, and during the few days I was away, it had traveled north and was expected to initiate one hell of a clusterfuck in the Northeast region of the United States.
Sandy’s first impact to the northern East Coast was due to be Monday morning, so all flights arriving and departing almost every airport along the East Coast was cancelled from Monday and Tuesday, with more, perhaps. I was quite fortunate that I was coming home Sunday night, since the next flight out would be at least Wednesday, and there would probably be a huge waiting list for replacement seats.
When I arrived to the airport on Sunday afternoon to check in, I realized that I was luckier than I had imagined. There are two carriers that do non-stop JFK to BGI (Barbados Airport), and back, each day: jetBlue and American Airlines. Each leaves NYC around 8 in the morning, gets to Barbados around 1:30 pm, and then heads back to NYC at around 2:30pm, arriving at JFK around 8:00pm. The schedule on each flight is different by only 10 minutes, with the AA JFK/BGI trips being 10 minutes later each time than the jetBlue. I found out that my jetBlue flight was the last flight that was allowed to come back to JFK airport, and that the passengers flying to NYC 10 minutes after me on American Airlines would not see New York until Wednesday or Thursday; their plane would leave, but would be diverted to Miami.
We boarded about an hour late, but we were assured that we would still arrive in New York on time, since there were favorable tailwinds. I hoped those tailwinds weren’t related to Sandy. En route we were told that if we looked left out the windows, we could see the hurricane from above it. It was so massive, and I tried to take a photo, but it was already getting dark outside, and my shots wouldn’t render adequately. But it was quite awesome to glimpse a portion of this massive storm from overhead.
I touched down in NYC on time, and televisions in the immigration line were all tuned to CNN and weather updates. It looked like it would be a big one, and frankly, that excites me. When I got outside, I could feel the winds picking up, though it was about 24 hours before the storm was expected to hit the city and make landfall. My only way to get anywhere at that point was to take a cab, as all public mass transportation had shut down as of 7pm to better prepare for the coming storm. I took a cab straight to a friend’s house, because I’d rather be stuck with my friends than at my apartment. So, one day after I saw the beautiful above scene in Barbados, I came back home, to this: