Thursday, January 21, 2016

Thursday Evening Thoughts On Epic East Coast Blizzard

I have to wonder if the Mid-Atlantic states will
look like New England after the epic
Blizzard of 1978 shown here. 
I'll get to some forecast and news updates about the giant nor'easter and blizzard about to slam the eastern United States, but first some thoughts:

You get a mix of emotions when there's an enormous storm about to hit any part of the country.

The most important piece is, and I hate to say it, people are going to die in this. No question about it.

Some might succumb to potential tornadoes this evening. People might die in traffic accidents on icy roads. Maybe a tree will fall on a house in a North Carolina ice storm tomorrow, killing someone in a bedroom.

Maybe somebody will have a heart attack shoveling snow. Or a snow-clogged vent will poison somebody with carbon dioxide. A coastal flood surge might drown somebody, or give them a fatal case of hypothermia as they get soaked in the towering waves on the Jersey shore.

I'm being morbid here, I admit. All but a handful of the tens of millions of people affected by this storm and blizzard will be just fine, and they'll have fun stories to tell to their grandkids.
Luckily, with ever big snowstorm or
blizzard we get a good sense of gallows humor. 

Still, even weather weenies like me, who live in a spot that will suffer absolutely no effects from this storm, get a little shiver of excitement at big storms like this. (I live in sunny northwestern Vermont, where not so much as one snowflake will come down from this big storm.)

Which means you do get a little pang of guilt over the thrill of a storm, knowing that this thing could really hurt somebody.

Like people at a wake or a funeral, sometimes we resort to humor to deal with this jumble of emotions. Yes, this isn't nearly as fraught as losing a close relative or friend, but the idea is the same.

There's lots of humor floating around this storm. Much of it is recycled from past storms, but that's OK. You also want the familiar along with the laughs.

The ever-reliable Onion offers us a whole laundry list of tips to "survive" the blizzard.

Among The Onion's tips: Purchase a CB radio to maintain lines of communication with other lunatics in your neighborhood; steer wildly when you hit the first patch of ice while driving;  be one of those idiots who buys all the bottled water at the supermarket;  and most importantly, criticize your mayor.

Now, this interlude.

A third grade teacher named Mary Morris in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee has come up with an awesome parody of Adele's exquisite, dramatic, but overplayed song "Hello" reworked as "Snow"

It has all the drama a fed-up teacher deals with in anticipating a snow day, as almost every school on the East Coast south of New England is experiencing.

The video is coming up, but sample lyrics:

"We need a snow day tomorrow
At least a good delay."


"I love it when I get the call
and I don't have to work at all."


"If it's going to be this cold
the least it could do is snow.
If I have to keep my students inside one more time for recess
I will lose my mind"

Here's the video. But scroll down beneath the video for the latest news and updates about the storm:


You just saw drama, or melodrama at least, in the above video, but the drama of the storm has certainly gotten going this Thursday afternoon and evening.

As expected, severe weather has developed in Louisiana and Mississippi, and it's spreading east. There have been a few tornado warnings this afternoon, but I haven't seen a confirmed tornado report yet. That could easily change.

As I write this at 5:30 p.m. EST, there were a few tornado warnings in central Mississippi, so this is definitely a developing story.

I'm very struck by the extremely close between the adjacent tornado watch and winter storm warning in northern Mississippi and Louisiana. That's a sure sign of a dynamic, rare, and awfully intense winter storm.

States of emergency have been declared in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina as the storm bears down tomorrow.  
Winter storm and blizzard warnings covered
a huge section of the nation Thursday evening (pini
and red areas) The yellow area is a tornado watch. 

If anything, forecasts of snow accumulation have increased today from North Carolina to New York City.

In some places, like Asheville, North Carolina, parts of Virginia and Maryland, this storm might exceed the levels of the thought-to-be impossible-to-beat Superstorm of March, 1993.

There is even serious talk in some areas of snow thunderstorms with accumulation rates of up to five inches per hour. That is INSANE!

An incredibly enormous area of blizzard warnings, blizzard watches and winter storm warnings extends from Arkansas to Long Island, and from southern Ohio to northern Georgia. That is One. Big. Area.

Nobody should try to drive, or fly to and from the Middle Atlantic States Friday and Saturday. Trains are kaput, too. The Washington DC metro is shutting down. 

Other than that, the forecast hasn't changed much. We're still expecting a terrible ice storm in North Carolina, at least for the areas that won't totally get buried in snow. Coastal flooding is an enormous concern from North Carolina to Long Island.

A measure of the concern comes from Hoboken, New Jersey, where coastal flood barriers were put in place today. That only happens in the most serious storms.

So, hunker down everyone in the storm zone! For most of you, it will be a wild, fun ride, as long as you stay safe. And preferably indoors.

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