As little as the weather excites me as a topic of conversation – especially in the form of hundreds of "OMG snow!!1!!" Facebook updates – I have to admit as a native Chicagoan that this is pretty stunning:

Lake Shore Drive reduced to a parking lot of abandoned cars is one of those things we would expect to see only in the midst of the apocalypse or after the Commie A-bombs started raining down. Still, it is worth noting that by Thursday morning LSD (and most of the rest of Chicago) was open to traffic. Compare this to the Blizzard of '77 in western New York and southern Ontario, which shut down Buffalo – Buffalo! – for nearly two full weeks. Snow was piled up to traffic lights and power lines in some areas and cleanup crews needed to use metal detectors to find cars buried under 30 foot drifts of rock-hard snow. I mean, that's some crazy crap.

So despite my general distaste for weather related chit-chat, today's topic is "Holy crap I thought we were going to die and we ended up having to eat Steve from Accounts Payable" weather tales. Sound off in the comments. If at least one of you hasn't been through a category 4 hurricane, a tsunami, or the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius I'm going to be surprised.

And disappointed.


  • Being from Georgia, I can only laugh at my relatives in Wisconsin and Iowa. Georgia's government may suck huge donkey balls, but our winter weather is better than theirs.

  • duck-billed placelot says:

    Three feet of snow dump in a day; luckily all the planes were grounded already because our local volcano was spitting. Blizzard and a volcano! Although I argued my case, work did not comp us an extra personal day to make up for the two-weather-cancellations-at-once. Jerks.

  • First Ed tells us how much he hates talking about the weather and how little he regards those that do. Then he asks us to talk about the weather.

    Anyone else think this is a trap?

  • As a former naval meteorologist, I cannot begin to comprehend your lack of interest in weather.

    That being said, watching Chicago, a city that truly knows how to deal with snow, demonstrates the awesomeness of this storm.

    Ed, weather is more interesting than 80% of the shit headlined every day.

  • Give me a choice among oppressive heat/humidity, oppressive heat/no humidity, heat/humidity the Confederacy and hurricanes, temperate climate/earthquakes and snow/cold, and I'll take the snow/cold 10 times out of ten, thanks, even if it means two or three crippling snow storms in a three month span.

  • We got an inch of snow here this evening in the North Georgia appalachians. Oh the humanity…! Our relatives from Evergreen Park left Ellijay for home this morning in a conversion van. They made it fine. They are an implacable bunch of folks. Unk talks like Tony Soprano but he is the salt.

  • Well, the closest I came to a cat 4 hurricane was when Floyd brushed by us in 1999. It ran right up parallel to the coast and if it had been further left it would have had a lot of destruction. I was far enough inland that I didn't have to evacuate, but it was pretty scary to sit inside with boarded-up windows and listen to the rain pelting and the wind howling. I heard stories about the evacuations, and how road trips that were ordinarily an hour or two took up to 12 hours because of all the people evacuating at the same time.

  • Here in northern Virginia we had our own mini-snowpocalypse. It started absolutely dumping around 3 in the afternoon, and so the federal agencies decided to let everyone go two hours early. So basically DC empties itself into the surrounding counties at the very time the snowplows (all three of them) needed to be able to sand and clear the roads. The result was an absolute clusterfuck. What is normally a ten-minute drive took me 3 hours, and frankly I was lucky to get home at all. So many stranded Mustangs…

  • I'm with you, Nunya; I think weather is interesting, too. Plenty of cool physics and chaotic interactions between land, sea, and our atmosphere. Maybe Ed's antipathy towards weather-related discussions comes from the fact that conversations about weather seldom stray beyond the socially safe zone of the 5-day forecast. Ed seems like more of a "third rail" kind of guy (hence, his blog).

  • Monkey Business says:

    @keith: There's a third rail in talking about the weather? What's that discussion like? Whether hurricanes should be allowed to have abortions? If tornadoes can get gay married? Is this winter storm Team Edward or Team Jacob?

  • I thought, growing up in Hawai‘i, that I knew about hurricanes. But then I moved to a region most people know only as the name of a movie: Cape Fear. Turns out there’s a reason it’s called that.

    I don’t know how many of the mid/late nineties hurricanes were Class 3 vs. Class 4, but suffice it to say that we got damn good at throwing hurricane parties. (Nothing quite like waiting for the eye to pass over so you can go scampering through the debris to buy some more Lake Shore Drive before the winds pick up again.) Our house was a large, sturdy 1882 Italianate with no windows facing the river, which was good because we were six blocks from it and many storms coming up that part of coast run, quite literally, right up the river itself. (An attractive nuisance, as the lawyerly types would say.)

    One year I had just completed a fairly detailed map of the coast for a local real estate company. Fortunately it hadn’t yet gone to press. A few days later when power was restored, the first thing I did when I got back to the office was either remove or considerably shorten most of the piers large enough to show up on such a map. Good times.

  • Elder Futhark says:

    My fifth record breaking blizzard and all you Southerners need to know we'd just stick your disgusting soft bodies in a drift and eat you later.

  • Noo Yawk: It hasn't snowed for days, and our problem isn't the slush or the mountains of ice on every street corner but the garbage. "Limited collection," sez the Sanitation Department. We call them and they say, "put it out on the sidewalk, we'll get to it." So far zilch for days. So big black bags everywhere between you and the curb, not to mention bags of recyclables–bottles and paper trash—then mattresses, furniture, whatever.

    And the stench of politics. Bloomberg cut the Sanitation budget for 2011 just as we needed the workers to be heroic. The snow emergency allowance is totally depleted for the year already. There were rumors of a slowdown, confirmed by some work details, then denied. But now it's sunny, mounds of garbage is still puncture the crisp winter air, and where are the trucks?

  • I was in southern Ontario during the ice storm of '97. There were places across the Ottawa river in Quebec that lost power for 2-3 weeks. I distinctly remember running out of my house and jumping on the lawn to slide around the snow-blown drifts that had been rimed with 3 inches of ice.

    That being said… Canadian here. So the only shitty part was having to stay with friends for three days because our power was out. I remember growing up in New Brunswick, every winter I would be able to jump out of my second story window and land shortly on a citadel of snow.

  • In 1998 I was out on the northern Atlantic as the remnants of Bonnie swept out to sea. This was on a boat with 1 working engine of two.

    60ft-80ft swells when your in an 180ft boat are fun times.

    I also remember being inside and watching this dial they had which showed the yaw of the boat as sometimes we weren't headed dead onto the waves. That was not quite as much fun.

  • As a lifetime Californian, I have no good weather stories to share (today's forecast: 67 and sunny), but I did ride out the 1994 Northridge earthquake in Los Angeles and the house I was living in was red-tagged as uninhabitable afterwards. Does that count?

  • Lifetime-minus-one-year Wisconsinite. Nothing truly epic to report, at least not on my weather scale, but the one year I wasn't in WI I mentioned to a Virginian that we'd gotten roughly 100 inches of snow the previous winter and she looked at me clearly waiting for the "ha ha just kidding" part. While that was above average (average appears to be about 81" in a year), it wasn't really remarkable in any way. Life continued, and we didn't even have any snow days that year.

    Honestly to me the awesome weather consists of the occasional tornado with torrential rains and golf ball sized (or larger) hail. But then we weren't as lucky as Chicago with their thundersnow Tuesday night…

  • I work in Tulsa and I've been off work since Tuesday. We had thundersnow on Monday night here. The cleanup has been hampered by all the cars and semis stuck everywhere and the record cold that followed the record blizzard. The major roads are semi-cleared, but the streets into my workplace aren't, so no one can actually get to the building. It's snowing again today, but at least the temps are supposed to be above freezing this weekend. It's a good thing, because the grocery stores and restaurants are running out of food.

    I'm not sure if this is worse than the big ice storm a few years back, though. Then, people went without power for weeks and the whole city was littered with broken trees. Our power was out for 5 days and it was miserably cold. They used a big park for a tree dump and the trees were stacked about thirty feet high over the whole thing for a couple of months.

  • Having been through minor floods in both Florida (2 feet of water between the dorms and the dining hall – with venomous snakes) and Maine (18 inches of rain in one day, most of the roads exiting Portland closed), I have to say that ice storms are, hands down, the most terrifying of the stuff that goes on in the Northeast. The sound of trees breaking is like gunfire, and not only is the power out, there is absolutely no way to get from here to there. We were without power for 13 days during the ice storm of '98, and I hope never again to experience the like. That said, I honestly don't know how people have the will to go on in the face of frequent, devastating hurricanes. Ice storms are terrifying, but at least the disease, drowning, and mudslide components are relatively unimportant. Our woodlot is almost recovered, 13 years later.

  • All these tales confirm my suspicion that I have nowhere enough of an emergency beer supply… Gotta get brewing (once spring gets here…)

    Not sure if anyone caught this little factoid, but for 2010 Minnesota had more tornados than any other state… (I chased after a few storms, never caught a tornado, but I have some pics of a textbook rotating wall cloud we did catch. the wife was too chicken to stay underneath it and see if it dropped a funnel on us…)

  • ixnay: Our woodlot is almost recovered, 13 years later.

    yeah, i understand that one. thank god for woodburning stoves during ice storms. even down here east of savannah.

  • Just realized that if I type the letter "G" in my browser G & T pops up as the first suggestion. Celebrating my 31st birthday with a bottle of Lemberger and Pizza. My own combination of spirits and food. Thank you ED for single handedly maintaining an awesome blog.

    My filipina Fiance hails from a sleepy little town on the island of Mindanao. She sent her mother some money to buy rubber boots and foot powder because for the last 45 or so days their house at 6 inches above sea level has been 6 inches below. Nobody in that town doubts global warming.

  • Electricgrendel says:

    I live in Austin, Texas. I LOVE Austin, Texas. It's sunny and warm, with great green spaces and a lot of out of doors things for people who like that sort of thing to do.

    One thing Austin is not, however, is a city at all capable of dealing with even the slightest bit of ice or snow. I think there's one plow, because why would they need more?

    I say all of that, because we got snow yesterday, and it's gone today and nothing like what anyone further north is dealing with but my GOD is is a hassle. I had to drive home on about an inch of compacted snow and ice, and I thought I was going to die the whole time.

    But- it's going to be in the sixties in like two days so I'll shut up now. :)

  • This is why I stay in Southeastern Pennsylvania. We don't get earthquakes above 3.0. Hurricanes have become tropical storms by the time they get to us. A tsunami would only do us the favor of taking out Jersey. And we've had the two of the snowiest winters on record the past two years, and it was a bit of an inconvenience. Sure, the area may suck, but at least nature isn't trying desperately to kill me.

  • We've had more snow in Arkansas this year than I remember for a long, long time. But it can't hold a candle to all the winter storms up north. However, I call your snow with twisters. Nothing in the whole world is worse than when it gets that eerie calm outside and you can feel the pressure dropping. When my blind dog crawls under my bed and presses against the wall, I know we are in big trouble. And the wail of the tornado sirens only makes it worse.

    Just a few weeks away from spring twister season!!!!

  • Here in Utah it is uncharacteristically dry and cold. It's at worst unpleasant. As an avid skier, however, I envy the rest of the country's snowstorms.

  • I've lived in the Buffalo area since the 1960's. I was pregnant with my first child during the Blizzard of 1977 and was stuck at home while my husband delivered groceries to stranded friends and neighbors in his 4WD Jeep. I was stranded overnight at work for the Nov 20th, 2000 snow storm and then stranded at my son's house for 3 days during the Dec 24-28th 2001 storm which dumped 7 feet of snow. In October 2006, 2 feet of heavy wet snow damaged thousands of trees still covered with leaves, and caused power outages for over a week in some areas. I certainly empathize with those areas of the country dealing with their snow storms. More on Buffalo's weather here

  • I lived in very rural Quebec during the ice storm '98. No other houses for a few miles, nearest town even further. We had no power for two weeks. Yeah.

  • I remember how bad that was derp. I live in Massachusetts and we drove thru Vermont and Southern Quebec. All the high tension wires and transfer stations looked as though a giant ray gun had melt them in place. The tree damage was unbelievable.

    Having grown up around the Chicago area it is odd to see something like this happen to hearty Chicagoians. A chain of accidents did not help. The photo reminds me of those taken along 128/95 in Massachusetts during the blizzard of '78.

    Here is an paragraph of an article written by a New England writer who's blog spot is

    Most significantly is the Great Snow of 1717. The storm began on February 27 and lasted until March 9. What was thought of as one long storm was actually four storm systems back to back that crippled Boston and our town of what was then Dorchester. Just seven days prior, a storm had already dropped a significant amount of snow, so when the Great Snow bore down, the cart paths and roads were already hampered. The severity of this storm is hard to fathom today. Colonists had little warning, and in their memory there was never an event like this one. The natives who lived alongside the early colonists shared that there had been no snow in over 200 years that equaled this storm.

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