Friday, January 10, 2014

Ah, Memories

You know how your mind wanders from one thing to another.  I was thinking about the Maryland weather post while doing the office commute, with certain memories standing out.

First, there was Hurricane Agnes in 1972.  It was a tropical storm by the time it got to us, but it dropped a boatload of rain.  We didn't have any streams around but clogged culverts, the topography, and railroad tracks on a raised bed that bordered one side of the community turned us into a lake.  Somewhere I have pictures of folks canoeing between the trees in the park.  And of a mostly submerged "No Parking" sign on Railroad Street.

For years we had visited Great Falls NP on Sunday afternoons, enjoying the walk as a family and finding the woods and river a relief from sultry D.C. area summer days.  The gullies and gaps on the trail to the Falls were bridged by old wooden walkways that had been there for goodness how long.  Finally, the NPS spent a gazillion dollars worth of tax money to replace the old wooden walks with concrete bridges with iron railings.  Spiffy.


And within months, Agnes arrived and demonstrated that whoever designed and OKed those new bridges had failed to take into account a very important characteristic of rivers - hydrology.  It rained and rained and the feeder streams poured more and more water into the Potomac drainage basin and that water headed downstream just loaded with tons and tons of debris.


When it got to those nice new bridges in the gorge the debris was pushed up against the railings and the force of the water behind it just scoured those new bridges out, tossing them aside as it rampaged to the Bay.  It was  a decade before the Maryland side of the Falls was accessible again.  This time, they built bridges with removable iron railings. 

Then there was the President's Day snow of 1979.  Major weather model fail.  I woke up in a dark bedroom. Looked at my clock - way too late to still be so dark.  Went to the window.  It was dark because nearly 2 feet of unexpected snow was piled on the roof, blocking the windows.


February, 1983.  Another doozy around 2 feet.  Somebody had gotten out with 4WD and that night I took a walk, following the track.  It was eery - dark, nobody out, no traffic sounds.  Just the hiss of snow blowing across the drifts.  I walked down to the main road, which was littered with lumps with aerials sticking out, buried cars abandoned in the road  and scattered every which way.  It started niggling at me that I was hearing a "tick".  Then silence.  Then "tick".  Took a minute for me to realize that what I was hearing was the traffic light that was still cycling through the signals despite it looking like the end of the world and my being the only human being out as far as I could see.  For some reason that freaked me - I turned around and hustled home.

Then there was the Blizzard of '96.  The government had just reopened after a prolonged furlough when this one nailed us and shut us down for another couple weeks.  I hadn't been paying attention, just knew that some snow was predicted on Sunday.  Decided to go to Mass Saturday night so that I wouldn't have to deal with bad roads on Sunday.  Mass was crowded and began with the celebrant saying "So who here really wants 2 feet of snow tomorrow?" What?! TWO FEET?!  Miserable grocery and video store experiances followed Mass.  Except the part where I spotted the chocolate cake that none of the other locusts noticed.  Ha! Mine!  It was great fun for a few days.  The east was paralyzed but we had groceries so we'd get up in the morning, pull the sleep sofa out, crawl into it, and watch TV and videos. And just as the area was beginning to dig out another big snow hit.  Eventually I started putting on a back pack and trudging to a grocery store that was about a half mile away, although it took a while before they had much to select from.


The last serious snow memory is 2009-2010.  The Winter of Never Ending Snow. I invited family to have Christmas at my house that year because, in my words, "we never really get Winter until February".  Yeah.  December 18.  Nor'easter.  Fortunately, I didn't park in my garage - I parked in the front yard and tied a tarp over the suv.  I didn't get back into my driveway until mid-way through March.  That first snow was a 2 footer and it just went from there.  The normal approach up here is that the ATVers often have plow blades and they plow us out.  It was too deep.  My neighbor hired someone with a front end loader to clear his driveway and cut an acess path in my yard for my suv, using the top of my driveway to pile the snow.  Blizzard One - February 5-6.  Blizzard Two - February 9 - 10.  I had at least 6 feet of snow fall in my yard that season.  They finally sent the National Guard up with earth moving equipment to dig us out.  I ran out of places to shovel snow to - I couldn't toss it any higher and had to walk each shovelfull down the street to get rid of it.

I think I may finally be getting over that Winter now.  I didn't have a nervous breakdown when patterns earlier in the season reminded me of those of 2009.

8 comments:

  1. Nature has a way of humbling mankind, and we just keep forgetting that it can. Hubris & all that ...

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  2. And we don't know WHAT this year is going to bring... sigh

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    1. Nope. 2 months of possible left to go, snow-wise

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  3. I hope the snow and cold are soon over

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    1. I'm a heat person - I never miss snow and cold.

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  4. I was out West in the 96 one, so thankful I missed THAT. You've weathered a few (no pun intended) and there will be more I'm afraid. Glad you got through the latest bit OK.

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    1. For a while it was doing the same thing the last big year did - storms tracking out of the mid-west, then hitting the warmth coming from the south. Fortunately, the worst of things has then pushed north east of us before really developing.

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