DC Snow: Beyond Thundersnow
In what I thought was just a tradition in the Deep South, the local media are hyping a snowstorm.
Snow and winds have increased overnight blanketing the metro region with 4-8″ of snow. Before long, we will be buried by several times that amount making this a record breaking December storm. Double digit accumulations have already been reported to our south in central Virginia. This is a dangerous, severe storm with the worst still to come.
Snowfall rates will average around 1″ per hour today, with higher rates at times and the possibility of thundersnow. Winds will increase to near 20 mph with higher gusts, causing some blowing snow and the possibility of blizzard conditions, especially east of the District where winds may reach or exceed 30 mph. The snow will likely not start tapering off until after 7 p.m. tonight and may not completely end until early Sunday morning. Do not travel unless absolutely necessary.
The National Weather Service says it’s serious:
RECORD BREAKING DECEMBER SNOWFALL FOR BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS BRINGING HAZARDOUS WINTER WEATHER TO THE REGION LAST NIGHT INTO TODAY…
TOTAL STORM SNOWFALL TOTALS OF 1 TO 2 FEET ARE FORECASTED TO OCCUR IN THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON METROPOLITAN AREAS BY DAWN SUNDAY…WHICH SHOULD ECLIPSE THE DECEMBER RECORDS FOR BOTH CITIES. THE RECORD TWO-DAY DECEMBER SNOWFALL FOR WASHINGTON IS 12.0 INCHES IN 1932…AND FOR BALTIMORE TO RECORD IS 14.1 INCHES IN 1960.
SHOULD ACCUMULATIONS EXCEED 14 INCHES…THIS STORM WILL MAKE THE LIST OF THE ALL-TIME TOP 10 SNOWSTORMS ON RECORD FOR BOTH CITIES.
Which is pretty incredible when you think about it. As late as the 1950s, DC thought of itself as part of the South. (Indeed, one of the roots of the heated rivalry between the Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys is that the ownership in DC bitterly fought the creation of an expansion team in Dallas because they had theretofore had the Southern fan base to themselves.) But nobody in the South these days thinks of DC — much less Baltimore — as anything but northeastern. Further, unlike Alabama — where significant snow accumulation is so rare that it doesn’t make sense to spend the money to have a large arsenal of removal equipment — it snows in these parts pretty routinely. I’ve certainly shoveled snow that was more than 12 inches deep since moving to the area, although that’s partly attributable to “drift,” so it wasn’t officially that deep.
But, really, what’s the big deal? So far, the biggest nuisance is that some idiot snowplow driver knocked over our mailbox in the middle of the night. It’s a weekend, so most people really don’t need to go anywhere. Weather-related power outages would be a problem, of course, but we don’t seem to have any of those, at least not yet.
I’ve spent most of my life in places where snowfall is rare and accumulations go away in a day or three. But I’ve also spent time in Germany, where people just deal with it. And my wife’s from New England, where they don’t cancel school unless the snow gets deeper than the average height of the kids.
Why the annual panic every time there’s a bit of snow?