Tag Archives: weather

The Virginia Blizzard of 2018

Okay, I must admit that even I—who grew up in the snow belt south of Lake Erie—am appropriately impressed.

Schools are closed. Most businesses and government services are shut down as well.

Normally I report to CoCoRaHS, a National Weather Service sponsored program—the acronym stands for:

The procedure is to measure the depth of the snow on the ground, then to bring in the measuring cylinder, let the snow melt, then pour it into the rain gauge to measure the actual water content. Out west, in the high plains or the mountains, this is critical, since it is required for the weather service to predict the snow pack. When this melts in the spring, it flows into the rivers the following spring and summer. That water is carefully controlled as to who gets how much. Agriculture needs a lot, which competes with people, so it is important information.

Too much snow, so I’m staying indoors—I have my day carefully planned:

Coffee and writing

Nap

Working on the class I start teaching Saturday

Nap

Finish a few radio procedures I’ve been working on.

Nap

Hmmm, there should be room in there somewhere for at least one more nap.

Blizzard!

Here in Virginia we’re under a blizzard warning!

Of course, as a major military town, many—if not most—people are not originally from around here. Many are from up north and know what a REAL blizzard is like; I grew up in Northern Ohio, so although Erie Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York usually got more, we routinely experienced lake effect. Lake effect is when cold air from up north (the “Alberta Clipper”) flows over a large, unfrozen body of water (e.g., Lake Erie), sucks up all the moisture from the warm lake, then passes over the cold land, after which that moisture dumps on the ground as snow. Up there, blizzards mean that snowfall is measured in feet.

In Virginia, on the other hand, a few inches of snow—or even the threat of a few inches—creates havoc. Some people believe that because they have a four-wheel-drive vehicle, they can drive 60 miles per hour on the interstate. Of course, four-wheel-drive will get a car moving on a slippery surface, but does nothing to prevent those 360-degree spins on ice. Others, just forget how to drive.

So right now, we wait FOR THE BLIZZARD. I saw at least a hundred snowflakes earlier today, but so far that’s it. So we wait. All of us wait. Some of us blog while waiting, but we still wait.

Mother Nature and the Odds

I live in an area that has experienced hurricanes, but not since 2011. Some around here now feel that we’re free of that threat. There might be some truth, at least for a while, given that current weather trends tend to have wind shear that trim the tops of hurricanes, weakening them, and there is a natural pattern that tends to push the storms back out into the Atlantic.

We’re good, right? After all, once a weather pattern occurs, it doesn’t change—does it?

Long ago, in statistics class I was taught an interesting fact. You flip an honest coin 100 times, and it comes up heads each time. What are the odds it will come up heads on the next flip?

Fifty-fifty.

We’ve blamed el Nino, la Nina, butterflies in Africa, etc. I don’t think we’ve quite figured anything out.

Everybody panic! It might snow!

Buffalo, NY 2014 (Courtesy PBS)

Southeast Virginia’s TV meteorologists are in a full-blown tizzy because (gasp!) it looks like it’s going to snow. This is not necessarily bad, because TV meteorologists love to be in a tizzy over any weather event—but if you lived as boring a life as they do, wouldn’t you? The only other excoitement they get is standing outside in a storm on a live broadcast telling everyone else not to go outside.

Our neighboring states average the following annual snowfall:

West Virginia 62″

Delaware and Maryland 20.2″

North Carolina (due south of us) 7.6″

Virginia as a state averages 10.3″ per year, but the southeast (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Chesapeake, etc.) averages a paltry 5.8 inches, although eighty years ago, in January 1936, there was a record snowfall of 20 inches. Wow!

So, wish your television weatherman a happy blizzard, but leave quickly or risk having it all explained in great detail to you.

Jason the Great

We’re not getting quite the storm that the Northeast is getting, but we do have some coastal flooding; not nearly as exciting or picture-worthy. Sorry about that, Superstorm Jason.

We did get a lot of rain; some came as slush, we had a few snowflakes, and in true storm fashion, we all got pretty wet. Since it’s winter, we also got cold. But then 28 years ago, at this time, I was in Antarctica, so “cold” is a relative term. Having said that, as I get older, my body says, “cold is cold.”

BREAKING NEWS!

Winter isn’t breaking news. Snow isn’t breaking news. Jason isn’t a catastrophe. It’s winter; however, already the daylight hours are getting longer. Most days (workdays, at least) I get out for my morning walk about 0430, so I can get my exercise before either my brain or my body knows what I’m doing. It’s nippy, but not impossible. True, I’m in Virginia, not Toledo, Cleveland, or Buffalo, where my intent would exceed my abilities. However, I notice that each day is a little brighter a little longer.

REAL BREAKING NEWS!

If, every day, I remember that it’s a little brighter a little longer, I tend to expect that everything else about that day will be just a little better. It seems that days tend not to choose the attitude, they wait for us to choose, so, when I hit the sack in about 30 minutes, I already know that tomorrow will be a little brighter, a little longer.

I wish you the same.

The Impending Storm!!!

Rick Moranis and AudreyII Little Shop of Horrors

Rick Moranis and AudreyII
Little Shop of Horrors

To quote Tom Lehrer, “Spring is here! Spring is here!”

(Those of you who are Lehrer or Dr. Demento fans know the rest of the song, but that’s not where I’m going….)

It seems like every day the weatherman on TV points out that “there’s a chance of thunderstorms….IF this cold front currently over Kyrgyzstan and IF this low pressure system in Chile coalesce with the effect of butterfly wing flapping in South Africa.”

So I debate. Should I spray weed killer on the eighteen foot dandelion in the front yard that keeps ringing the doorbell? If the rain comes, it will wash the weed killer away, but if I don’t spray, the weeds will take over.

Decisions! Decisions!

I’ve always found that I do best if I sit back and think about a problem, so I went to the front porch and sat on one of the two white Cracker Barrel rocking chairs. I tried my best to think and logically assess the situation.

Then I saw it

A sporty BMW pulled up in front of the house. The driver looked around; when he didn’t see anyone watching, he jumped out and walked across my lawn without even turning the engine off The giant dandelion spoke first..

“Here’s what I promised you,” it said, handing the weatherman a roll of banknotes. “You were never here, and we never met.” The weatherman did a quick count and started to turn back to his car.

I pounced from my chair, weed killer in hand and began to spray the dandelion and watch it wilt. Surprisingly, just from the overspray, the weatherman began to wilt in exactly the same way, and soon both were merely smudges on the front lawn.

The weatherman was dead! What should I do?

I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket, dialed the police department, and calmly reported, “Hey, there’s a BMW running in front of my house with no one in it.”

Neither Rain, Nor Snow…

It’s a bit rainy here.SONY DSC

This might seem like a reason to put off setting up the grill. Not for me. My grill goes year-round.

Winter’s early sunsets are easily overcome with a stand-mounted set of halogen lamps.

Snow and cold weather just mean that cooking time has to be adjusted.

And rain? No problem.SONY DSC

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

Snowmageddon – Southern Style

SONY DSCThe inches of snow that fell on Virginia last week continue to impact the area. While the streets are now clear, it has yet to warm up enough melt the snow on the north sides of buildings or in other shady areas. Schools are still open on modified schedules.

In other news, Toledo, Ohio – where I grew up – has had more snow for January than ever recorded – almost 3 feet for the first half of the month. It is currently under a snow emergency.

(Sigh)

I love the South.

Pushover for Underdogs

SONY DSC

Everyone wants to save the fuzzy little kitten or the big eyed puppy.

For some reason, I want to save the ugly little plant. If you remember Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, you know what I mean. The ones that are being cast off as “too far gone.”

Some seem downright grateful – perhaps not just for themselves but also for the ones I tried to save but didn’t make it.

This bush was on our back deck when we moved in years ago. The pot split and is now held together with giant cable ties. The plant looks a little peaked here, but it is the middle of January, after all, and I’m surprised it has any leaves. In the summer it looks pretty darn good.

Virginia Winters

coldHaving lived in different parts of the country I notice a bit of a difference between climes. In Wyoming, unless it was below zero and there was the chance of being stuck somewhere, I wore my suit coat, shirt and tie to work all winter. In Virginia, when it gets to 50 degrees, everyone wears the down filled “Michelin Man” coats.

I have no problem with that.

At my son’s soccer game (The “Icebreaker” Tournament) today, everyone was frozen to the core at 40 degrees, including me.

My friends back in Wyoming and Ohio are laughing at me.

So be it.

However, I have robins, daffodils and neighbors working on their yards.

I use my snow shovel primarily as an extra-large dust pan.

Life is good.

The World Ends! Again!

foxnews.com

foxnews.com

Like almost every other American, I have a smart phone, although I only use a few of its features. I do check e-mail, not so much to actually read all of it, but to skim through and see if there’s anything really interesting. The internet access is sometimes handy, although the slow speed and small screen are significant disincentives. The alarm clock comes in handy when I’m on the road.

When I access the phone, the home screen gives me the current weather – just basics like 23 degrees and clear or whatever. However, it has little gizmos to make the weather more entertaining. If it’s raining, a windshield wiper clears video raindrops off the screen, complete with wiper sounds. If it’s windy, I hear the sound of the wind and see clouds blow around the screen.

This morning, before the alarm went off I reached for my phone. The weather screen showed an asteroid streaking toward the earth accompanied by the sound of destruction and screaming.

I’d never known the smart phone to be wrong before, so I took immediate action. I’m a trained professional! I’ve dealt with all kinds of emergencies and disasters throughout my life, so I knew exactly how to handle this.

I immediately yanked the alarm clock power cord from the wall. I fluffed my pillow crawled back under my covers and reveled in the fact that the bed was so warm.

Rule #1: If the world is going to end, you might as well sleep in.

Turns out it was a glitch with the phone.

I still enjoyed the extra sleep.

The (Hurricane Sandy) Saga Continues

So far, Hurricane Sandy appears to be headed north of us. Of course, that’s the actual center of the storm – the southern part of the storm that we may experience is still within the system and will manifest itself primarily as wind and rain.

The biggest problem may be at high tide tomorrow. The tide goes in. The tide goes out. Except when it doesn’t.

WTKR Weather Coverage

At times like this, the tide comes in and the wind keeps it in. Then the next high tide comes along and pushes more water in. That’s when the street looks like a small river – which will probably happen tomorrow morning around 9:42 or so, when high tide occurs.

The other big issue is that as the wind hits, trees with leaves are more affected by the wind than trees without leaves. The trees still have lots of leaves. Trees falling over in and of themselves are not a big deal, but they do have a nasty habit of toppling power lines and blocking roads.

So the bottom line is that of the many things that may happen…

…at any minute…

…because this is a tense situation…

…so take cover…

Very little has happened so far.

But you never know.

Preparing for Frankenstorm

All eyes around here are on Hurricane Sandy – the weatherguessers are calling this the “Possible Perfect Storm!” But to quote a meteorologist I know, “In what other job can you be wrong 70% of the time and be seen as fantastic?”

A storm or two ago one of the reporters for a national weather channel was out at Virginia Beach acting like he was heroically braving the elements. It was windy, but nothing deadly, so some of the local teenagers got behind him and waved. It ruined the illusion, so his response was something like “Don’t these people realize the danger they’re in?”

Weather people are adrenaline junkies. Remember the movie “Twister”? (One of my favorites, by the way.) The real weather chasers are pretty much like that.

If you live up north and haven’t experienced a hurricane, think blizzard – lots of moisture and lots of wind. You get enough warning to stock up on the essentials and then sit inside and watch it happen.

We did get up early this morning and clean up all the miscellaneous in the yard so that nothing will become airborne and break a window. With wind and rain that can be messy.

So now we wait.

Oh, and I can cross “Clean up the yard” off my general purpose list of things to do.