Saturday, June 11, 2005

Zen Hike Postponed

Date: Jun 11, 2005 7:24 AM
Subject: Zen Hike Postponed

This morning's forecast for Dahlonega shows 80% chance of thunderstorms with up to 1/2 inch of rain - not a pleasant day for hiking. Besides, a ridgetop under tall trees is not the safest place to be if there's lightning.

Therefore, the hike is postponed until June 18.

Sorry for the inconvenience and late notice, but hope that you can make the "rain date."


Last night, after getting home at midnight, I found that I had received several emails concerning the weather and Saturday's hike along a part of the Appalachian Trail. I knew that Tropical Storm Arlene was coming, but the information in Friday's USA Today (yes, I know it's a rag, but they left it on the door of my hotel room) said that it wasn't expected to get as far north as Atlanta until Sunday afternoon. I went on line to, and the forecast then was for "occasional thunderstorms" in the Dahlonega area, the nearest town to our planned hike. Well, "occasional thunderstorms" means that most of the time, it will not be storming, so I figured that we could get the hike in before the front reached the mountains, and maybe even take advantage of the nice weather that typically occurs here just before a Tropical Storm (the presence of a major low-pressure cell to the south of us often sucks cool, dry air down from the north).

Responding to my emails, researching the weather and just generally unwinding from my flight kept me up until almost 2 a.m., so when the alarm clock went of at 6:00, I had only gotten four hours of sleep. At that early hour, it was hard to tell what the weather was going to do, so I went back on line and was dismayed to see that the forecast had been downgraded to "80% chance of thunderstorms, with 1/2 inch of rain." Well, that was a lot worse than "occasional thunderstorms," so I reluctantly sent out the email above to all who had signed up for the hike.

Not that I was able to go back to sleep though. There are always those who show up for these hikes without signing up first, and there are those who do not check their emails in the morning, so I got dressed and went to the Zen Center to let anyone who showed up know that the hike was being postponed until next Saturday.

And I'm glad that I did - two from the latter category did show up, and I let them know about my decision, the reasons, etc. They both agreed with the logic, but kept looking at the sky somewhat dubiously. Fortunately, a light shower had started, which supported my case.

However, as the day wore on, it appeared that we could have gotten the hike in without a major incident. Arlene was quickly downgraded to a "Tropical Depression" as it made landfall on the Gulf Coast, and the weather stories typically stated that its impact was "underwhelming." Instead of bearing east toward Atlanta, the latest trajectories have the T.D. heading straight north into Kentucky. After last summer's four-hit cycle of Bonnie-Charlie-Francis-Jeanne, everyone was understandably concerned about a new storm, and the media was only all too willing to play off of that concern.

I don't know about Dahlonega, but here in Atlanta, it was overcast but with only occasional light rains - the heavy stuff didn't come down until the late evening. In fact, the cool weather made for some pleasant running along the rolling streets of Collier Hills.

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