Archive for the ‘Weather’ Category

Myriad of hazards

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Weather hazard infographic from the National Weather Service in Sterling

The winter of 2013-2014 is apparently reaching its dramatic conclusion with an increasingly rapid alternation between balmy shirtsleeve weather and arctic blasts.

Wednesday morning’s weather bulletin from the nearby National Weather Service office nicely encapsulated this winter’s exceptional variety: “WE SOMETIMES SAY THE FORECAST HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. I THINK WE CAN TAKE THAT LITERALLY AT THE MOMENT…AS THIS FORECAST HAS ALMOST EVERY POSSIBLE WEATHER TYPE/HAZARD…IN THE FIRST 36 HOURS. STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS…SNOW…WIND CHILLS…STRONG WINDS… UNSEASONABLY WARM TEMPS…UNSEASONABLY COLD TEMPS…POTENTIAL FIRE WEATHER CONCERNS…MINOR COASTAL FLOOD POTENTIAL…THERE IS NOT MUCH LEFT.”

Today (Saturday) has been a beautiful Ides of March. Elizabeth and I spent a couple hours outside with no jackets.  Tomorrow the National Weather Service, in what seems a weekly ritual, has release yet another winter storm watch as today’s comfortable mid 60s drops in less than 24 hours to the mid 20s, bringing 2-8 inches of more snow.

So far, the only thing we seem to have missed is the Ajax storm (a white tornado).

Collecting Snow for Sochi

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Morning view out home office

As we woke up this morning, the last of more than 13 inches of wet snow was still coming down. This is the first significant snowfall in the Cap region since 2010.

     Deeper in the frontFeb2014-1650

Impressively deep on the patio, it seemed even deeper out front.  It seems we’ve had at least 15 inches so far, and perhaps as much as 20.

15 Inches/40cm of snow

I saw lots of neighbors shoveling, but virtually none of them actually tried to drive anywhere today. Most of the cars looked like they had no business going anywhere.  Even the Jeeps decided to stay put.

Across the street

Hovering around freezing all day, the snow subsided a couple inches. The landscape company was out with shovels, blowers, plows, and even a Bobcat, and the neighborhood is pretty clear. I walked the several blocks to our town center, almost totally deserted, but still softly playing jazz music.  Everything was closed but the Harris-Teeter.

Even Jeeps stayed put today

While I stopped in the backyard to chat up Krypto, asking for his help to locate some missing snowballs,  I noticed a family shoveling their Honda out, hopping in and slowly driving across the slippery pavement.  I didn’t think they’d get very far, but it turns out that they were only driving 500 yards to the town center where they own a Vietnamese restaurant. So there are now two places open.

Buster in his cape

A light snow started falling at dusk, the beginning of a second wave of frozen precipitation apparently caused by an ‘energetic upper level disturbance.’  Quite. Another 1-3 inches is expected, although this particular pattern has a history of heaviness, with continued red-bordered warnings from the National Weather Service.

Looking down on the patio

Given the dearth of the white stuff in the sub-tropical location Russian city chosen to host this year’s winter Olympics, more than one wag has suggested that we collect and ship the stuff to the Black Sea. If this storm does deserve a name, it might as well be Snochi. Maybe Krypto can do something about taking this snow to where it is really needed.

Flood Waters Are Rising

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

July2013-2105

It seems almost oxymoronic to observe that a swamp has been flooded, but I don’t know how else to describe it.

After days of angry thunderstorms, and heavy rain, the meteorological violence expended itself with a couple of heavy storms. The evening of Monday, July 8, it hit hard, with constant thunder, wind, and driving rain. I went out on the porch to enjoy the sound, and a lightning bolt hit on the far side of the pond, blazing the porch and cabin interior in brilliant blue light, and rocking the cabin with a huge bang. 

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Not having slept well, we decided to get an early breakfast at Creekside Cafe.  At 7:30AM, our swamp was full of dirty brown water, our creek was flooded, and we had to drive through water flowing across the township road.  By afternoon, most of the local flooding had subsided.

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For the next couple days, we were visited by angry red and orange waves across the online weather maps.  By the evening of Wednesday July 10, the Killbuck had flooded across Route 60 in several places, and was closed.

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On Friday, the weather forecasts suggested that there might get weather. Again. Elizabeth headed into town, and thought she’d be back before the worst of the storms. At about 3:30 in the afternoon, just after my last telephone call, another front hit the cabin.  Within minutes, there were whitecaps frothing the pond, the trees were waving back and forth, and thunder and lightning were everywhere.  A lightning strike landed north of the cabin, not quite as close as the one a couple days earlier. The lights flickered, and eventually went out and stayed out.

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Meanwhile, Elizabeth had encountered the storm while driving back home. She ended up with a long drive back, dodging falling trees and floods, eventually going miles out of her normal route.  With the power out, and the sky suddenly very pleasant and blue, we took a drive in Dad’s Gator.  Our township road was open, but the Killbuck was higher, and Route 60 was even wetter.  We didn’t seem to have any significant damage, but a nearby neighbor reported that the wind blew the cowl off one of his tractors and carried it 15 feet.  Our power came back on in 3 hours, but some places nearby were out for several days.

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With Route 60 still closed on Sunday, some of the neighbors spent the afternoon driving their ATVs through the flood water.  All that precipitation in the Killbuck Valley took a while to drain, and even though the rain had stopped, 60 didn’t open back up until the following Thursday. Although the flood wasn’t high enough to do any real damage, it persisted for over a week.

We thought we’d seen the worst of the weather for the month (to be continued).

Tornado Week

Monday, June 17th, 2013

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Have you ever had one of those weeks where it seemed like everywhere you looked, there was weather? That’s what it was like last week, with three near misses.

In National Harbor for a business event on Monday, I had just returned to my room when I learned about a tornado warning just a few miles to the south. I could see some very wet people outside, but no obvious violent weather, and it blew over. 2 days later,  Elizabeth arrived for pizza with my co-workers, and we were surprised when our iPhones rang simultaneously. It turned out to be a tornado warning in Ohio. We anxiously watched the storm traversing the county on our phones. The tornadic storm passed a couple miles below our property without any impact, other than what must have been a loud hailstorm on a metal roof.

Tornadic storm approaches from southwest

Pooped after long 2 weeks of business travel, I returned home Thursday afternoon, popped a beer, and took it out to the sidewalk to watch the long-expected not-quite-a-derecho-after-all roll in.  The air had that hot sultry Midwestern feeling of impending meteorological violence. The southwestern sky became darker and darker, taking on an unfortunate greenish color. Halfway through my Heineken, the first few rain drops hit, so I walked inside and turned on the telly.

15 minutes to Armeggedon

In half a beer, my world had gone from a severe thunderstorm warning to you have 15 minutes to find a basement. With a certain urgency, the weatherman showed a dark read warning right across our neighborhood, explaining that although there was no apparent tornado on the ground, everyone between Leesburg and Ashburn Junction (a half mile to the southeast) would be best off to assume cyclonic activity.

Heart of the storm from upstairs window

Not having a basement, and apparently having 15 minutes to think about that, I went upstairs to get my camera. As I watched to the southeast, the visibility dropped from a couple hundred yards, to a hundred feet.  Small hail peppered the outside wall, and the window shook violently a couple of times.  Water poured out of the downspouts, missing the lowest tier of gutter, spewing all over the patio. I walked back downstairs to where the basement door would be if we had one.

Heart of the storm

The lights flickered. The windows rattled. The weatherman explained that the purple spots on the radar were really bad, and he held his left hand over our neighborhood to emphasize the benefit of the basements that nobody underneath his hand actually had. By this point, I’d already weathered the first purple spot, with one more smaller one due to pass over any second.  Milking the moment of doom for another 4 minutes, Storm Team 4 then announced that the tornado warning was lifted for Loudoun county, and was headed north of DC through Montgomery County.  Within 30 minutes, the storm had split into two parallel tornado warning paths, thousands of PEPCO customers were without power (so what else is new?) and small funnel cloud damaged a house in Rockville.

Waves of rain hit as the heart of the storm leaves Loudoun

Snow!

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

Cabin in the Snow

Having long lost any significant enthusiasm for shoveling the stuff, my relationship to snow is somewhat conflicted. Yet, in my heart, there remains an inescapable excitement at the prospect that enough might fall to actually cover the grass.

Driving in winter weather is no longer as adventurous as it used to be, even with the assurance that comes from a Subaru.  Before setting out across the Continental Divide for a multi-week stay at the cabin, Elizabeth and I very carefully checked out the weather reports, timing our trip to arrive between Alberta Clippers.  The small amount of snow on the lane was no problem for all wheel drive.

After the First Plow

Our arrival was immediately followed by several cold, but very still, days of beautiful snow.  I’d attached the blade to the Kubota’s 3-point hitch during our last visit, and I was eager for an excuse to actually plow the snow off our long gravel drive. Tilting the blade sideways so that it would direct the snow to the edge of the drive, I gingerly backed down the edge of the drive, creating a very satisfying wave of snow, curling in front of the blade.  I used the blade backwords, so it wouldn’t dig into the gravel under the snow.  Its easy enough to reverse the blade, I decided to drive backwards so that I wouldn’t compact the snow with the tractor tires.

After about 30 minutes, I’d cleared a a turnaround area at the top of the meadow, I’d sort of cleared the newest part of the drive, leading up to the cabin, I’d cleared the longer and older part of the drive, and I’d used the front end loader and blade to clear the end of the drive at the street, and in front of the mail box.  That’s where I encountered one of the neighbors, plowing the township road with his ATV, so I helped him out, taking 2 high speed, and backwards, swipes all the way up to the paved road, and down to his driveway. By then it had become too dark to plow (maybe its time to repair the mice-eaten headlight wiring).

Overflow Pipe in pond.

Naive enough to think that FedEx might actually drive up our slippery slope to deliver my replacement iPhone, I got up early on Tuesday morning, and with new found plowing confidence, spent another 40 minutes perfecting my technique.  FedEx left the delivery in a plastic bag, tied around the mailbox. But I did end up with a nicely groomed driveway, with two relatively low lines of snow professionally and neatly piled along both sides of the lane.  I was able to enjoy that for about a week, until the last of the snow melted. It wasn’t exactly Nemo, but for me, it was a nice snow.

Bilingual Sign at Rhode's IGA