Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Great Snowmageddon Of 2010 & Other Musings On Our Wacky Weather

A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.
I covered wars, famines and lots of crap and corruption during a long newspaper career, copped a few Pulitzer Prize nominations and killed 15 months covering the O.J. Simpson murders and criminal trial, but nothing that appeared under my byline attracted as much interest as when I wrote about the weather as a young reporter.
Yes, the weather.
My moment of greatest journalistic glory came during the winter of 1977-78 when temperatures pretty much stayed below freezing in the Middle Atlantic states from Christmas Eve through St. Patrick's Day, prompting me to call it "the coldest winter since the Ice Age" in one of my daily dispatches.
While my editor winced before allowing that bit of hyperbole to make it into print, it was a great hit out on the hustings and I found friends and acquaintances introducing me to their friends and acquaintances as "the guy who writes about the weather."
No such recognition, let alone adulation, greeted my Pulitzer-level accomplishments and while it was not exactly downhill career-wise from 1978 on out, those halcyon days as "the guy who writes about the weather" come to mind as I look out the window over the desk at my pied-a-terre as a big storm howls and dumps six inches of snow hereabouts.
Or will it bet a foot, 18 inches or two feet?
That is why you gotta love the weather. Despite armies of meteorologists with armadas of supercomputers, forecasting remains a guessing game, pre-Snowmageddon panic shopping for toilet paper and milk (no matter how much you already have) is as predictable as the weather isn't, and many a conversation opens with an exchange on what the heavens are expected to deliver.
The deliveries this winter have been bass ackwards, or in meterologist lingo "backwards snowstorms."
This is because areas to the north and west of Philadelphia which traditionally get much more snow than areas to the south and east have instead gotten much less. This will be the first winter on record with two snow storms of at least 20 inches in northern Delaware while there has been a total of less than a foot at the Kiko's House mountain retreat.
There have been blizzard conditions immediately to the south and east since late last night and here as of daylight, as well. The entirety of Delaware is under state of emergency as the Nor'easter churns up to the Atlantic coast. (A Nor'easter consists of a low-pressure area with a center of rotation just off the coast and whose leading winds in the left forward quadrant rotate onto land from the northeast, causing . . . See, now you've got me all revved up.)
To qualify as a blizzard in National Weather Service parlance, there must be sustained winds or frequent gusts reaching or exceeding 35 mph (56 km/h) which lead to blowing snow and cause visibilities of one-quarter mile (or 400 m) or less, lasting for at least 3 hours.


UPDATE I: As of 6:30am EST, the snowfall accumulation in northern Delaware is about 12 inches and climbing, while it is approaching 20 inches to the south. Winds are gusting to 45 miles an hour here with drifts as high as 2 feet.

UPDATE II: As of 9:30am EST, the accumulation here is about 18 inches and climbing, while it is approaching 30 inches to the south. Winds continue to gust to 45 mph here with drifts as high as 30 inches.

UPDATE III: As of 11:30am EST, the accumulation here is about 22 inches and climbing, while it has exceeded 30 inches to the south. Winds continue to gust to 45 mph here with drifts as high as 3 feet.

UPDATE IV: As of 1:30pam the snow finally tapering off. The accumulation here is about 25 inches, while it approaches 3 feet in some areas to the south. Winds have diminished.

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