Blizzard 2016 Weather Voyeurs

I grew up with snow. Hometown Caribou, Maine, typically ranks in the top five cities for annual average accumulation—280 centimeters (110 inches); ranked No. 4 for winter 2015. However, I spent most of my adult life in the Washington, D.C. metro area, where snow is nowhere as frequent but where whiteouts or ice-rages can be more severe. My wife and I are weather voyeurs observing the blizzard blasting the District this weekend. Washington is more home than San Diego, where we live to assist my 94 year-old father-in-law. The blizzard and memory of past storms there beckon me.

Anne has followed the storm online, posting to Facebook this morning a delightful video of panda play at snow-covered National Zoo. She also watched CNN, which coverage is sensational and sporadic. We needed something more like home, so I switched HDMI ports to Roku Stick, started the NewsOn app, and watched the live feed from WUSA. What a treat! 

Our first apartment was off Route 1 in downtown College Park, Md. When the WUSA live feed started, the woman newscaster stood on a snowbank, and I could see, several hundred meters behind her, our old building. Anne and I conceived our daughter in that apartment—October 1993.

I know well the street plaza from where she broadcast. The University of Maryland area remains one of my favorite places that we lived, despite traffic noise from U.S. 1 and college congestion. Hehe, sometimes standing on the sidewalk with Anne I would jibe: “There’s one road. The same road”. Route 1 connects Caribou to other Artoostook County communities.

I remember well the blizzard of February 16-18, 2003, which dumped 36 cm (14 inches) onto Washington, D.C. I measured 46 cm (18 inches) on the deck of our Kensington, Md. home. Days later, weather forecasters predicted pounding rains would follow. While shoveling our driveway, I saw a crew clearing out my neighbor’s yard. I approached one man and asked how much would be the cost to shovel back snow all the way around the house. “One-fifty”, he said. Cash. And I paid. The five men did in twenty minutes what would have taken me many hours: Clear about one meter of snow back from the brick and down to the lawn.

At the time, I felt kind of guilty paying for something I could have done myself. But after the rains came, and many of my neighbors suffered flooded basements, vindication washed away guilt. I often say that it was the best $150 I ever spent. Water drained off the house rather than ran into the basement, where also was my home office.

I wish my best to everyone back in the Mid-Atlantic and other regions (like New York) where snow blankets inland areas and massive waves roar into coastal areas. You’ll call me crazy, but my snow sentiments and Washington home-sickness are strong feelings. Wish I was there with you.

Editor’s Note: Featured image is a screenshot from this Washington Post video.