Category Archives: snow


The gynormous Blizzard of 2010 has officially been clear of the region for a little less than a week — gone, but not by a long shot forgotten.  Roads are relatively clear — unless you live in the District of Columbia or an isolated cul-de-sac — grocery stores are restocked, and mail delivery has resumed (an overnight mail package I took the Post Office on Tuesday the 9th finally made it to its destination on Friday the 12th — it was stuck on the East Coast for two days while mail delivery ground to a halt).  But it’s still a mess, and temperatures in the low 30s are making sure that none of the enormous drifts will thaw until April.

Here’s a quick look at the storm as it moved through our region the week of February 8.  First, here’s a look out our back door as the blizzard really started to kick into overdrive (you can juuuust see the Jeep poking up behind a drift in the center of the photo).  We deliberately left the storm door open so the drifts wouldn’t pile up against it and make it impossible to open:

Here’s the same view a day or so later, after we spent the better part of the morning shovelling our way out to the Jeep:

While we got the Jeep uncovered, it wasn’t going anywhere fast.  It took us another day to get our long sloping driveway cleared. High winds and drifts as high as eight feet made it difficult to dig into.  We eventually settled on a system where Madi climbed the drifts and knocked them down with a shovel while I ran a snowblower right behind her.

Here’s the driveway now — and it’s hard to get a grasp of scale here.  The side drifts run from about two to six feet high as you move down toward the street.  Steering down our driveway is like making a Death Star trench run in an X-wing fighter:

Here’s a look back the other way, toward the rear of the house, glittering with icicles.  Sliding snow and heavy icicles actually tore the gutters right off of one part of the house.  Right after we took this, Madi and I spent some time slinging snowballs at the icicles on the upper level, trying to break them off.  We mostly just left snowy splatters on the windows and walls:

Finally, I’ve gotta run an Abbey photo (yeah, she’s still hobbling around, but loves the snow).  Here she is poking happily around in the dog run we keep digging out just off the back patio:

I love the snow, but even I’m a bit snow-weary.


We made it back to Maryland, right in front of the snowstorm.  As we made our way south on the train, there was no sign of snow in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Delaware.  Then, as we crossed into Maryland, it was as if someone flipped a switch and the flurries began.  By the time we arrived at the train station, the snow was coming down fairly hard, though the temperatures were still hovering above freezing, keeping the roads in decent shape.  We arrived in Damascus just as it was starting to get nasty.

This morning, it’s 28 inches and counting, with the snow still coming down heavily.  I went out this morning to shovel a clearing for Abbey — who walked out to the end of the six-foot trench I dug, looked back at me sadly, then slowly walked back into the house.

We were also just informed that the U.S. Postal Service has officially cancelled service for the day, and the National Park Service has closed the monuments in DC.  Can’t remember the last time that happened, even during the huge DC Blizzard of 1996.

Back in a Moment…

I’ll continue the trip report here tomorrow — at the moment, we’re getting everything packed up and ready to head over to Penn Station so we can make it back to DC ahead of the snowstorm that’s headed this way.  Everyone I’ve talked with in DC tells me the snow is not yet flying, and I’m guessing we’ll make it back well before the mess begins.

I will say, however, that it was an amazing evening last night at the St. Nicholas Society, spent with some really fantastic people — an evening none of us will forget.

Catch you here later.  Stay warm!

One For The Record Books…

Well played, meteorologists — you got one right.

A huge snowstorm whooshed through the DC area all day yesterday, dumping record amounts of the snow in the region, the largest December snowstorm in 70 years.  We woke up to snow flurries, which turned into a near-blizzard by late afternoon, and finally wore out as a nice gentle snowfall by 10 last night before petering out.  We ended up with about two feet of the stuff here in our corner of Maryland, and we spent most of our morning shoveling, snowblowing and salting driveways, patios and sidewalks.

The sun is out now, and while temperatures are still hovering in the low 30s, any asphalt surface we managed to expose by shoveling is warm enough to melt the snow around it.  Still, it’s a mess — they’ve already cancelled school across the county for tomorrow — and plows and salt trucks are still standing by in the event dropping temperatures turn half-melted surfaces into skating rinks tonight.

But it sure is pretty, isn’t it?  Here’s the sun poking up over the southwestern corner of our house this morning, right before Barb and I set out to shovel our long, sloping driveway:

Here’s the walkway leading to the back door, where our bushes look as if they’ve been dunked in melted marshmallow:

Here’s Abbey peeking out over the edge of the dog run I had to dig out in the back yard.  This gives you a bit of an idea of how deep it is:

To give you an idea of what it looked like during the storm, here’s a shot of the house directly across the road from us as the snow was really starting to fall at about 2:oo p.m. on Saturday.  You can see the roads were getting tough to clear, despite the best efforts of Maryland State Highways:

And how are things in your neck of the woods?


Well, wouldn’t you know it.  The day after I bump down the snow pictures, the weathermen are telling us to brace for a big one here along the eastern seaboard. 

All right then.  On my way into work this morning, I stopped at Home Depot to restock my supply of ice melt (I picked up something called “Blizzard Wizard,” as opposed to the salt I normally throw down.  We’ll have to see how it does.) Despite the forecast, Home Depot was a ghost town, though they’re obviously bracing for the rush, as they had placed near the front door a large cardboard sign on which someone had scrawled in marker SNOW ZONE, with an arrow pointing toward a large display of shovels, salt, spreaders, and snow blowers.

Apart from the salt — which I depleted during the storm last week — we’re fairly well stocked and should have no problem riding out the fifteen inches they’re forecasting.  But I’m a snow skeptic — I usually don’t get too wound up or excited about the snow until I actually see it falling.  

So, you weather watchers . . . stay tuned.

Let It Snow, Let Snow, Let It Snow…

The first winter snowstorm strolled lazily through the area over the weekend, dumping about ten inches of wet, heavy stuff here in central Maryland.  The cold and wet combination was just right enough that the snow didn’t stick to the roads — making it easy for Barb and I to clear the driveway by just pushing the snow to the side — yet still glued itself to nearly every surface. 

The snow was still coming down as I took this picture through our back window, where the crow’s nest of the treehouse sticks out like a sore thumb without its summer leaf cover:

Meanwhile, the thatch of bamboo still standing by the old fireplace in the back corner bowed down under the weight of the snow and cried out, “I’m tropical, dammit, TROPICAL!”

And while Abbey has slowed down a bit with hip dysplasia, she had surprisingly little trouble in the snow, frolicking and leaping playfully before finally settling down and tossing up gobs of snow with her nose:

And the geraniums on the back porch?  Forget it.  They were hanging around like tough guys through November, braving the cold weather and still trying to bloom before the first hard frost.  Here they are on December 2 . . .

. . . and here they are on December 5. Say goodnight, Gracie.

And how was your weekend?

In Like A Lion

The mega-snowstorm that was moving across the Eastern seaboard was an enormous tease here in the DC area — or at least in our neck of the woods, just northwest of the District.  We went to bed with flurries snuffling around, but no snow on the ground, and awoke to find only a few dry inches blowing around.  I went out at 6 a.m. to shovel and salt our driveway — a 50-yard slab of asphalt that slopes down onto a state highway.  It took about 30 minutes, but things were looking good.

Then the snow really began.

Starting at 6:45 or so, the snow started coming down in heavy slants — at times it looked like it was coming down sideways — quickly covering everything back up, and dumping another eight inches of heavy white stuff in just under two hours.  It came down so fast that the main road through our little town — a state highway that serves as an official Snow Emergency Route — couldn’t be cleared fast enough. 

When I finally revved up the Jeep (smugly engaging its four-wheel drive) and headed out the door for Rockville at about 8:30, things weren’t looking much better.  Here’s Main Street in Damascus, Maryland, through the windshield of my Jeep:


So much for the Snow Emergency Route.

Anyway, I applaud my fellow Marylanders for their snow savviness — I saw only one spun-out car, and no accidents during my 16 mile commute.  Well played, Merrylanders.

So, while we’re slowed down in the area, we’re not stopped — which meant Barb could drive off into the snowy sunrise this morning to start a brand spanking new job today.  After spending the last few years working in a government lab, then serving a year as a science advisor to a Congressional committee, some wise international sciencey-type firm was smart enough to recruit her for a director’s position.   She’s — we’re — incredibly grateful and fortunate that in this tough economy, she’s actually moving upwards to bigger and better things — including, to her delight, international travel — and I couldn’t be prouder of her.

In other news, the snow also hasn’t been enough to close the airports and prevent me from getting on a plane tomorrow night to meet Agent J out in LA — in Hollywood, actually —  for a conversation on Wednesday with someone rather cool, regarding a fun potential project I’ve taken to calling Project Blue Harvest.*  More to come this week.

*  If you get that joke, you are a true geek and can hang with us at Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles tomorrow night.  And no, it doesn’t really have anything to do with the potential project we’re discussing.