Friday, January 22, 2016

It's Heeeeeere

Wine - check
Cheese - check
Crackers - check
Oreos - check

Other stuff - check

Thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a spare wick for the kerosene heater, just in case, so I made a run to Home Depot.  Fail.  Fah.  Not particularly worried - the ridge is protecting us from the winds that are turning this into a blizzard to the east.  I don't expect the power to go out, and the current wick has had very little use, anyway.  But the storm arrived while I was out, and it has been pounding down.  It only took about a half hour to turn pretreated roads to ick in a demonstration of why people need to stay home.  Can't even imagine what the roads are like now even though the plows were already working.  And the windshield wipers kept freezing.

I find modern weather forecasting incredible.  The mere fact we can watch a storm unfold on doppler is amazing.  We piss and moan when a forecast is off, but, really, not all that long ago storms could come out of the blue without anyone having a hint of what was going to happen - the Children's Blizzard of 1888 erupted on an unsuspecting Midwest on a warm January day and left hundreds dead.

It still ain't perfect - a model only has so many data points to work with - but people want exactness and get fussy if nobody can tell them if a storm is going to arrive at 2:15 or 2:30.  So "weatherdude" Dennis Mersereau has posted his own "FAQ" page for the Blizzard of 2016 in an effort to head off the stupid:

Q: How much snow am I going to get?

A: Here's a snowfall forecast issued on Thursday morning and valid through Sunday morning.

Q: Where do I live on that map?


Q: Yeah but how much snow am I going to get?

A: Your town could get 8-12" of snow from this storm, less if ice mixes in.

Q: Yeah but how much snow will we get exactly???

A: Did I stutter?

Q: lol okay really though what's really going to happen are they hyping this?

A: No, this isn't hype, and what you see in the forecast is what they really think is going to happen. Weather forecasting isn't a grocery store—we don't keep the good forecasts in the back, and we don't benefit from hype since our reputations are on the line. Hype is driven by the management side of news operations that care more about ratings/revenues than the true newsworthiness of an event.

Q: When will the worst happen?

A: Friday through Saturday

Q: Is this really the worst storm that's ever happened?

A: This storm has a chance to break snowfall records in several places. It could be one of the top two or three storms ever recorded in Washington D.C., for example, and if it stays all snow, cities in southern Virginia and North Carolina could come close to breaking all-time records.

Q: When was the last time we had a storm like this?

A: The last time you had a storm this bad in the Mid-Atlantic was during the blockbuster blizzard fest during the winter of 2009-2010, when you had something like three major snowstorms in a one- or two-month window. Farther south, with an exception here or there, this is probably going to be the biggest storm since the Blizzard of 1996, if not earlier than that.

Q: I have a flight out of Dulles at 8:30 PM on Friday.

A: Not anymore.

Q: Will the next flight be cancelled?

A: Yes.

Q: What about Saturday?

A: Yes.

Q: When will the airports reopen?

A: It's not so much an issue of the airport being closed as it is the airlines cancelling all of their flights. Airplanes and frozen precipitation don't play well together, and airlines aren't thrilled with the sight of planes full of people falling out of the sky.

Q: will skol b closd 2mrw?????

A: For your sake, I hope not.

Q: I wish I had a job where you could be wrong all the time and still get paid!

A: I hope your pants rip when you're far away from home.

Q: If the high is going to be 27°F, why are we expecting freezing rain instead of snow?

A: There's a shallow layer of warm air a few thousand feet above the ground, completely melting the snowflake before it reaches the ground. The melted snowflake—a raindrop!—re-enters the subfreezing air at the surface and freezes on contact with anything exposed to the elements.

Q: Why is it hailing?

A: It's sleet. Sleet forms through the same process as freezing rain, but the snowflake doesn't completely melt. The remaining ice crystals in the raindrop give the water a nucleus around which to freeze, solidifying the droplet into a tiny ice pellet, or sleet.

Q: My friend's cousin on Facebook said that we're gonna get a—

A: Ignore him.

Q: But my friend says that he's never wr—

A: Ignore. Him.

Q: The Virginia Snowstorm Action Authority 3000 Facebook page said that we're gonna get—

A: That page is also run by your friend's 12-year-old cousin. Ignore it.

Q: Is this El NiƱo making landfall?

A: That question makes me want to take up drinking.


  1. You forgot Cheez-its. Hunker down, stay warm and dry. Have adequate whiskey or single malt scotch. We get a couple feet dumped on us every year. We play board games (we learned to pay backgammon and it's a ton of fun), we read by flashlight (if need be) and we cuddle with the dog. It's all good when you look back on it.

    1. I think a jigsaw puzzle is in order. We've passed the 30 inch mark and other than digging out the outdoor cat area I think it's beyond anything but mechanical equipment now.

  2. And this question and answer.

    Q: When will my street be plowed?
    A: At the exact instant you finish shoveling/snowthrowing your driveway clear of snow.

  3. Wine, cheese, crackers, Oreos...
    I LIKE your priorities!

    Stay safe and warm.


  4. Stay warm and dry