Welcome back to the campus! While you were gone, nature made several half-hearted attempts to remind us that we could be obliterated at any moment, for no reason, by forces that we cannot stop and will only occasionally see coming.
First, the earthquake. A 5.8-magnitude quake last Tuesday that put a four-foot crack in the Washington Monument and, according to library spokesman Eric Bartheld, knocked 27,000 books off the shelves of McKeldin Library.
Bartheld said about 90 people — staff, students workers and volunteers from the university’s College of Information Studies — got the books off the floor in 24 hours. The building was declared structurally sound and open again by Friday, except for sections of the fourth and seventh floors with damaged shelving units.
About 700 books were also damaged, Bartheld said, “which is a very low number all things considered.”
And then, you may have heard, there was a hurricane. College Park got more rain in 24 hours from Hurricane Irene than it normally does in the entire month of August, according to data from weather-tracking agencies — on the campus, several trees were uprooted and two gentlemen took off all their clothes in the ODK fountain.
National Weather Services data from Sunday reveals the area saw 4.90 inches of rain on Saturday and into Sunday morning. An average of more than 101 years’ worth of College Park rainfall data from the Southeast Regional Climate Center shows that August is typically the rainiest month for the area and averages 4.52 inches of precipitation total.
Though power was out in many spots throughout the city, the area was spared from the conditions that, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, killed at least 21 people between Florida and Connecticut.
And, if you believe the Farmer’s Almanac (which everyone does), we should be home free from weather disasters. We’re in for “colder-than-normal winter temperatures,” according to the long-running publication’s completely random guesses, but it will be a “kinder and gentler” winter than the one that brought us Snowmageddon.