Thursday, January 21, 2016

Another "historic storm" forecast

Since Monday, many weather forecasters have been hyping the "historic storm" that will "paralyze many cities."  It sounds much like the rhetoric for the Blizzard of 2015.  It was certainly a "historical storm" - for Boston.  For us here in Maryland, it barely dusted the ground despite the predictions of "possible record" snowfalls predicted even up to about twelve hours before the expected start of the storm.

Our local talk show host on WXDE 105.9 Talk Radio (and honorary drunk redneck), Susan Monday, had plans to cross the Bay Bridge to spend the weekend in Baltimore, but now wants to know if she should heed the hype and stay home or ignore it and go.

Since I like to be as helpful as I can, here's my take on the storm and advice on travel plans:

Dear SuMo:
I know I'm going to stand out like a special little snowflake refusing to take part in the "historic storm"...I mean "historic blizzard" now that it's been upgraded...but I have to stand separate from that generation of professional weather forecasters and novices raised on The Weather Channel hyperbole-style of forecasting.
Last year, I wrote of my childhood role model who was the greatest weatherman Maryland has ever known.  Until the Blizzard of 2015 that never materialized, I had forgotten all his wisdom he passed down through his forecasts when I was a kid.  For the last year, I've been making up for all that I have forgotten.
All week I've been looking for signs that would hint of a major storm coming.  I got nothing but conflicting messages. 
The herons disappeared last week, but they disappeared in preparation for the brutal cold that started this week out.  The seagulls were around until today.  The ones in Cambridge disappeared, but there's still a couple hanging out in Crisfield.  The geese in Pocomoke headed south this afternoon, but the geese in Easton are sitting tight.  A few dozen song birds hung tightly to some electrical wires this afternoon, but most likely they were warming their feet.  I haven't observed any unusual roosting or food gathering activity with the birds.  Ditto for the deer.
The sky this afternoon was just as conflicting.  In the west some fish scale clouds began forming (a sign of light precipitation usually within 24 hours) and in the east some mare's tail began forming (a sign of heavy rain or snow with 24-48 hours.)  An hour later there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
My last hope for a sign confirming the coming of the "historic blizzard" was to see a halo around the moon.  As of this writing, the moon is halo-less.
What this is telling me is that our "historic blizzard" will be a no show much like last year's storm. 
This 6 mi. bridge ain't all that scary.
All the drivers who went over the
side may disagree
Should you go to Baltimore after your show?  The answer rests on how young and adventurous you are at heart.  Take some cash, though, just in case you are forced to stay at a cash-only roadside motel.
Should you take the Bay Bridge or go north to avoid it?  The answer rests on which bridge scares you the most - the Bay Bridge or that high arcing Summit Bridge over the C&D Canal.  I feel safer on the Bay Bridge.
So pick your bridge and go for it!  The storm is probably only going to be half as bad as the hype claims - if it is going to be at all.
This high-arcing, narrow bridge is
1/10th of a mile long, but six times
scarier in bad weather.
But keep this in mind: a newscaster today warned that travel over to the western shore, particularly the Baltimore-DC corridor, could be "life threatening."  No matter how young and adventurous at heart you might be, are you willing to risk everything based on what a bunch of birds, deer, clouds, and a halo-less moon says?
 While I would love to see this storm do what last year's did - namely go too far out to sea to affect us much - and teach us not to forget the old timers' way of forecasting the weather - I think you might be better off curling up with a bottle of wine or two and a good book. There's always another weekend to be young and adventurous.

Related Links:
If Stu Kerr were alive, this wouldn't have happened

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks


  1. I go over the Chesapeake City bridge every day with no problem (It's the bridge pictured on the bottom left). It is tall and narrow but as long as you treat it like any other road you'll be fine.

  2. Thank you, Anonymous, for reading and commenting. I haven't been over the Summit Bridge in a few years, but it does hold special memories when I have crossed it.

    Many years ago, my Dad set out to teach me to drive. His idea of teaching was to put me behind the wheel and say, "Go that way." Long story short, he had me go over the bridge. When I got to the other side, I was going too fast as I came up on the sharp turn in the road on the other side. All I remember is being white knuckled and bracing for a trip through the cornfield lining the turn. Despite my Dad yelling, which made the experience all the worse, I maneuvered safely around the turn.

    When I went over it a few years ago, that turn appears to have been widened and made more gentle than it was over thirty years ago - either that or I just remember it incorrectly. But every time I go over that bridge, my grip instinctively tightens and I think of the first time my Dad tried to teach me to drive and took me over the bridge.