014:336 Snow

George Carlin, my favorite comedian, wrote the following in Last Words, the last book he ever published:

There’s one other thing with snow. Even when you’re fifteen or sixteen and you just want to get laid and snowballs no longer hold the slightest interest for you — or even for that matter if you’re never going to see sixty again — when it snows you’ve always got to make one snowball. Only one, but you gotta.

Just to see if it’s good packing.

As I write this now in February of 2017, my first winter in five years that holds the possibility of “good packing” snow, I have been severely disappointed. While the New England area of the country has seen feet of the white stuff fall from the sky, the precipitation levels here in Virginia has been miniscule.

For the 2016-17 version of winter (to date), we have only seen a dusting of snow, which is a level that is nowhere close to being able to form snowballs.

However, this has not always been my experience here in the Old Dominion. I have lived through some doozies of snowstorms.

Here are some of those stories (and some even have pictures).

January 25, 2000 – The Nor’Easter

Just a few weeks after surviving the non-event of Y2K, folks in the DC area went to bed (including yours truly) on January 24 thinking that only a light dusting would harass them on their next day’s commute.

Nope. When all was said and done, between twelve and eighteen inches of the powdery white stuff had blanketed the area. This snow event would be my first real wake-up call to the fact that forecasters may say one thing will happen and then something completely different occurs.

This 2010 article from The Washington Post has more on the blizzard and the egg on the face that hit the National Weather Service. The blizzard itself even ranks its own entry in Wikipedia.

February 6, 2010 – Snowmageddon

Not sure when blizzards starting taking on names, but this is as good a moniker as any.

This massive snowstorm (details here) dropped twenty-seven inches of snow in my local area. Schools and the federal government were closed for days as the roads were impassable. This was actually the third and last in a series of blizzards that hit during the winter of 2009-2010. The picture below shows how much snow had accumulated next to our garage on the first day.


Always good to have a yardstick handy when proving to the people back in California just how much snow one has to shovel.

This would also be the last major blizzard we would have to deal with before departing for our international adventure in July 2011 since the 2010-2011 winter has mild.

February 16, 2003 – Washington’s Day Blizzard

Other folks may call this snow event the President’s Day Blizzard, but I refuse to call that holiday by its improper name.

I will step down from my soap box but I reserve the balance of my time for a later rant.

In the DC area, just over twenty-four inches of snow during this holiday weekend. Thankfully, it was over a holiday so the road crews had some time to clean up before the commuters hit the road the following Monday. Here’s the Post‘s take on that storm.

I particularly recall this blizzard for the fun I had with my two boys enjoying a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight. There might have even been a snowman or two.

March 9, 1999 – The Welcome Blizzard

Having only been in Virginia (from California) for two months, I had no idea what to expect when it snowed. I had no idea what the protocol was. I was not aware that there is a whole system in place to alert workers, drivers, parents, and anyone who cares about what locations are closed in the DC area.

So when I woke up on the morning of the ninth of March, I saw snow, but I also knew I had to be at my office. I had also only been at my new job for two months and I had little to no time off. So I dutifully hopped into my car and drove the thirty miles from my house to my office…in the snow (uphill!)…with my wipers working furiously to allow me to see the ever-whitening roads.

Other people on my team knew the drill and knew to listen to their radios to know that a snow event was coming. They stayed away while I plowed (cough!) on ahead.

The only other person to make it into the office that day was my boss. He was impressed with my grit, but also counseled me (his California-bred underling) that there are some moments when one can take a day off from work.

December 19, 2009 – Snowpocalypse

This was the second of three major snowstorms to hit the area during the 2009-2010 version of winter. Apparently, the first snow event in this series (December 5) is so mild in comparison, that I don’t even note it in my calendar.

I have it recorded that twenty-four inches of snow fell. School was just about to let out anyway for the Winter Break so this deposit of snow had no effect on the kids, but workplaces did shut down. That meant it was once again time to play with the little ones…once the driveway had been shoveled.


January 9, 1999 – Ice to Meet You

I leave you with this final wintertime story.

My lovely wife and I moved to Virginia in December of 1998. We lived out of a hotel for a week until we found a place to rent. We were scheduled to move into our new townhouse on the ninth of January. On the evening of the 8th, however, an ice storm swept into the DC area.

The next morning, when we arrived at our new home, we saw the moving van with all of our items was also waiting for us. Also waiting for us was a thick sheen of ice coating the stairs leading up to our new front door. Understandably, the movers did not want to take anything up the slick stairs.

Foolish West Coasters that we were, my lovely wife and I had the brilliant idea of heating up kettles of hot water and pouring it on the ice.

This was not a good idea as it was extremely time-consuming and, ultimately, useless.

A kind neighbor took pity on us on this Saturday and explained that the local home improvement store had a product that could melt the ice rapidly. We trooped on over to said store, purchased said product, and strewn it liberally all over the stairs. Within moments, we could hear the hissing and popping of ice cracking and melting. Within a few more moments, the movers were satisfied enough to start moving our boxes into our new home.

Those are my stories.

P.S.   As to why Mr. Carlin is my favorite…well, that’s a story for another day.


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