The Great Blizzard of 2010: It’s Baaaack!

So, if you entertained any thought the Great Blizzard of 2010 was Gaia dancing a mocking reel on the heads of the AGW crowd…she’s back to tread out a hornpipe, a polka, and a rigadoon. The mid-Atlantic coast is now experiencing a second record-setting snowstorm just five days after the first one. Once again: we are snowed in, we are OK, the fridge is still well supplied, and the cat is still fuzzy.

Washington D.C. is now long past seeing its seasonal record for snow shattered. City authorities appear to have plain given up. The Federal government is shut down. (Yay!) Philadelphia is pretty much shut down too and nobody thinks it’s going to be any better off tomorrow. As I write we’ve got three feet on the ground in Malvern and more coming down fast; the trench I dug from our door to the driveway this morning has already filled in.

Last time around Malvern was 30-50 miles north of the worst-hit areas. This time, if I can go by what I saw on the weather maps, we had the bull’s-eye painted on us. The wind’s not as stiff as it was in Round One, but I think the snow is actually accumulating faster this time. Between the weekend’s snow and the new stuff I think we might crack the five-foot mark here.

The serious-damage threshold has already been crossed. Some friends of ours about a mile and a half away own a hot tub that sits under a light wooden-and-plexiglass gazebo. Used to sit under it, I should say; the roof collapsed today. Internet service is getting slow and flaky; I’ve had a couple episodes of being unable to reach even Google today. Pandora Radio is, unsurprisingly and with no blame to them, dropping out a lot. I’m thinking some of the core routers in the D.C./Baltimore area have probably crapped out.

I made another ginormous pancakes-and-bacon breakfast for us this morning. Wasn’t as much fun this time. And had to do almost all the shovelling myself, as Cathy slightly pulled something in her right hip over the weekend and I was not about to let her re-injure herself. Not that shovelling’s done a lot of good, anyway; as I noted, the snow has filled already in this morning’s trench to the driveway, Getting all the way to the road isn’t going to be pleasant.

Overall, this is starting to suck. Not seriously, yet, but the trend is not good. Um, about that global warming, could I actually have some, please? The cocoa is holding out, but we’re down to our last slice of pumpkin pie here, man!

55 thoughts on “The Great Blizzard of 2010: It’s Baaaack!

  1. This one stuck closer to the coast; out here in Cumberland we only got about 6 inches this time. We got two big ones back to back though, I think it was 6 winters ago, for a total of about 4 feet on the ground.

  2. Ok. I have to admit you’re being hit pretty hard.

    The preppers are probably partying, huh? :)

  3. here in nyc, the post has seen the “snowpocalypse” and raised a “snowmageddon”. unfortunately, all i get to do is telecommute…

  4. Forgive me for being nosy, but I am curious about something. How do you currently earn a living, ESR? Your site doesn’t say anything about your employment, so my best bet would be that you are self-employed somehow. Correct guess?

    I’m guessing that would make snow-ins a bit more enjoyable, not having bosses yelling in the phone and such :)

  5. You should write more about your personal life in general. You are a fascinating fellow, and I believe I’m not the only one who takes an interest. Just a random thought.

  6. >Correct guess?

    Yup. My income, such as it is, is mostly from consulting gigs. Got one coming up, maybe, as a forensic analyst in an IP lawsuit.

  7. >You should write more about your personal life in general.

    That’s not really the mission here. I’m OK with having some bits about my personal life come out as sideband to my essays, but frankly I normally find public diarists self-indulgent and boring and don’t want to be one of them. I’d rather write about ideas.

  8. I see. That seems like a pretty sweet deal. Maybe do a post on entrepreneurship and such? I would imagine you have some experience to share there.

    Heh, it’s nice to be humble but sometimes fans *want* you to be self-indulgent ;) I can only speak for myself: your texts are of high quality and eloquently formulated, but ESR the persona is what got me hooked to keep coming back here and check every day for new posts. I think you are one of those “either love him or hate him”. The fact that your haters made a fairly prolific webcomic about you proves that point I think. Maybe you could do a side-project blog with more personal stuff? Just a thought.

  9. Of course the warmenists claim that the blizzards are DUE to global warming. And somehow they’re able to make said claim with a straight face. Fortunately, far fewer are taking them seriously these days.

  10. The shoveling does a lot of good…if you didn’t shovel out the trench for it to be filled in again, it’d be twice as deep when you did get to it, and the process of making the space between your front door and the street passable would begin to closely resemble the labors of Hercules.

    We got hit by the second round, even though we missed the first. Still nothing like what you’re getting, though.

  11. >but ESR the persona is what got me hooked to keep coming back here and check every day for new posts

    You’re not really surprising me. I know I’m interesting that way, I worked pretty hard at achieving it. In some ways I rely heavily on the fact that my persona is fascinating to a lot of people; it’s really helpful, for example, when I’m trying to sell controversial ideas. But I’d rather be about the ideas and leave people in a position of having to work a little to figure out what makes me tick – I actually think that’s part of my appeal. Always leave ‘em wanting more…

  12. You should do a post on “HOWTO: create an interesting persona for fun and profit”. That way you could write about ideas AND feed us a bunch of interesting new pieces for the ESR-puzzle.

  13. Yeah, it’s been snowing like fucking gangbusters in New York all day. It is righteous mess out there now. Thank you Mother Nature. Now please sick a few dry-footed polar bears on Gore while he’s out investigating the Great Sea Ice Disappearance of 2015.

  14. My last year stationed @ Eielson AFB, AK, we got 167 1/2 inches of snow. The base had to contract out shoveling off all the roofs of all buildings on base to prevent collapse. I feel your pain, though the building codes in AK required a steeper pitch because of probable snow loads. As for post-retirement here in Billings, MT, we are approaching a new record for most days with snow on the ground. It was -19F here this morning, and if not for 4wd and limited slip front & rear, I wouldn’t have gotten out of the driveway. I guess everything is relative.

  15. Please send a polar bear down here so I can bag the fucker and stick it in my freezer….

  16. >Of course the warmenists claim that the blizzards are DUE to global warming. And somehow they’re able to make said claim with a straight face.

    Reduced ice cover on the great lakes means that they can supply more moisture to the air. However the cold winds that turn all that moisture into snow come from a very negative Arctic Oscillation, which, although extreme, is within the bounds of natural variability.

    Meanwhile, the organisers at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver wish they had your snow…

  17. In the meantime, here on the West Coast, it is SPRING TIME already. All it takes is one good freeze, and our crops for the year are FUCKED. Even the Idaho panhandle is warm.

    Global warming? No, that is a naive interpretation. Local phenomena can’t be extrapolated to a global level. 20 years ago, Ralph Rene (the genius of New Jersey) detected the east coast cooling trend. If this east coast cooling convinces the dunderheads in Washington to ignore the global warming hocus-pocus, then hooray!

  18. Another aside: global warming would lead to mild weather, mild storms, and minimal snowfall. Thus saith the historians who study such matters.

  19. My Mom’s daffodils are about to bloom since it’s been +12C (54F) and sunny around here (Vancouver). If you want warm then host a Winter Olympics.

  20. Between the weekend’s snow and the new stuff I think we might crack the five-foot mark here.

    Nah. The stuff from the weekend had begun to melt down and was down to about a foot when this storm hit. Also, part of this storm was a combination of snow and freezing rain. But I do think we’ll have a total of three feet if it stops at midnight Wednesday our time–and possibly more if it continues snowing longer.

  21. (Originally to your original post about the “blizzard”)

    I feel sorry for you people down there who have no clue on how to survive in a blizzard…up here in Ottawa, Ontario, a foot or two of snow is no biggie.

    To being with, I am a poltical non-euclidian…that is even the Pournelle Axis doesn’t accurately map my political beliefs. For example, I have no problem with people owning guns, as long as they are properly trained in their care and use. But I am against capital punishment, because it has been shown that innocent people have been killed by mistake. If the justice systems were 100% accurate, then I would drop my opposition to Capital Punishment. Left wing people think I am a Right winger, and vice versa, which shows the political map is wrong.

    As for climate change, well, it’s real. The Earth’s atmosphere is a chaotic system, and the more energy you put into a chaotic system the more variable it becomes. That’s why you get more and more extreme weather.

    What were hundred year category storms are now happening every one or two years. In the next five years, or less, the summer pack ice in the Canadian north will disappear. For the past few years, the Canadian North West Passage has been virtually ice free, something that hasn’t been seen in recorded history.

    Anecdotally, I know that in the days of my youth, the snowfalls in the winter would always come up to the kitchen windows of my parent’s old house. That was in the 1960s. Today, we have had essentially snowless (that is no accumulation that lasted) winters three of the past 5 years. The Rideau Canal skateway, the longest skating rink in the world used to be frozen and skateable well before Christmas…but today, it’s a challenge to have it ready by Winterlude, the first weekend of February. Of course, Winterlude itself used to be much earlier and has had to be pushed back for exactly that reason.

    Man *can* cause changes in the weather, a good example of that is the London Fog. It was caused by the burning of coal for heating. When they passed their first Clean Air act, which banned the use of coal for heating, within a few years, the Pea Soup disappeared. Now, admittedly, that dealt with a micro-clime…but it does show that humans can affect the weather over a large area.

    Now, it could all be part of a large cyclic weather pattern…Inu, Inuit and other First Nations Elders say that there is a 50 year cycle to weather…but they also say that this weather is not normal as well. Climate change is real, what we don’t know is, really, what is causing it, or what comes next.

  22. Eric, global warming causes BOTH hotter and colder weather. Didn’t you know? That’s why they renamed it to Climate Change — so that when the climate changes (or we have a hot or a cold day), you can be sure that man caused it to change.

  23. > Eric, global warming causes BOTH hotter and colder weather.

    As far as this blizzard goes, AGW is responsible for the increased precipitaion but the (localised) cold is due to natural variation.

    >That’s why they renamed it to Climate Change

    “Climate change” is less frightening than “global warming”. As one focus group participant noted, climate change “sounds like you’re going from Pittsburgh to Fort Lauderdale.” While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge.

    That’s from a Frank Luntz memo. Personally, I sometimes prefer the term “climate change” because of the number of muppets that can’t tell the difference between “global” and “local”.

  24. To me the sort of snowfall you are experiencing is almost on the level of a Science Fiction story set on an alien planet.
    I was twelve years old the first time I ever saw snow actually falling.
    “My father never tried to tell me he had to walk to school in the snow.” – Is the family joke, even though it’s true.
    But then Dad and I were born in Los Angeles, California.
    Even in the eleven years I’ve resided in Clark County Nevada I’ve only seen it snow and actually stick twice.
    I am sympathetic. Mom was raised in Kansas, so she knows what snow is all about.
    My real thoughts are in the direction of the sunspot deficit and a restart of the Maudner Minimum.

  25. About shovelling snow: never overdo it. Once while living in Chicago I got frustrated and tried to shovel really fast to get it over with. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    It took two weeks for my back to recover. I remember one moment, lying on my back in bed, when the pain became intolerably intense to where I needed to change position, but at the same time I couldn’t move without making it even worse. So I laid still, panicking, for a couple minutes until it subsided on its own.

    But the worst thing was the fear that the condition was permanent. Some people live with intense back pain for life. Fortunately I got better. But let that be a lesson to the kids, the human back is fragile and mean — don’t piss it off.

  26. And it’s still cold here. In fact, it’s colder. Right now, we’ve got windchills in the upper 30F range, and highs in the low-to-mid 50F range. But at least it’s sunny and I still don’t have to shovel snow. :P

  27. About shovelling snow: never overdo it. Once while living in Chicago I got frustrated and tried to shovel really fast to get it over with. Dumb, dumb, dumb.

    Oh, yes. Nevermind the back problems — many people have died in such endeavors, particularly with snow of the wet and heavy variety. Usually of cardiac arrest. It’s good to just take your time and take frequent breaks. Many people who have never seen snow like you get up north look at me incredulously when I make such statements, but the local news up north regularly reports at least a few such deaths with every big snowstorm.

    Oh, and pete: Why is it that when someone conflates weather with climate as esr has knowingly done in a mocking manner twice with these blizzards, the climate change alarmists are always quick to point this out, but they turn around and say that all dangerous weather is caused by climate change? You can’t have your cake and eat it too: if weather is not climate when it comes to temperature, then weather is not climate when it comes to precipitation, storms, hurricanes, etc. Playing on people’s fear of dangerous weather by spreading this kind of FUD is the same sort of game Microsoft plays.

  28. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. As soon as I see a polar bear. Don’t eat all the liver in one piece

    Well I’ll be damned….I did not know about hypervitaminosis. Not that I actually eat much polar bear anyway…. ;)

    I do eat offal though, but not wild game offal, only farm raised…typically beef/lamb livers & kidneys.

    Oh yes….and real haggis. Food for real men.

  29. Here in Florida, we got freaked out a few weeks back when grass turned slightly brown. :)

    Actually, the cold spell was mildly catastrophic here, if mostly due to secondary effects. A few sinkholes may have popped up because of the amount of water drained to keep the crops from freezing. One even totally blocked off I-4 (goes from Tampa to the other coast through Orlando).

  30. Looking at morgan greywolf incredulously. I know of no such reports. Have you any links?

  31. Morgan’s point about shovelling is well-made, folks – for all the talk about the danger of a blizzard, there will certainly be more casualties from this storm due to people who have heart attacks while trying to shovel snow.

  32. ESR,

    a practical question: what will happen when all that cr*p suddenly melts? I hope you’ve had the sense not to build the house in the middle of a natural soup-bowl. (Not meant as an insult to your intelligence: I’ve seen highly intelligent people make the mistake of building “in this nice place that’s protected from winds from all directions”.)

  33. >I hope you’ve had the sense not to build the house in the middle of a natural soup-bowl.

    Nope, it’s near the top of a small rise and has excellent drainage. Basement is bone-dry.

  34. a practical question: what will happen when all that cr*p suddenly melts?

    Good point, actually. A good thing to do when you’ve got a lot of snow is break off all the big icicles on your gutters: it prevents the buildup of snow and water runoff due to ice dams.

  35. re: Ted Walter:

    Duh! Of course, *any* significant change in the energy levels of the chaotic system we call the atmosphere will cause climate change. But Global cooling doesn’t explain why glaciers all over the world are melting at phenomenal rates, and the Northern Summer Ice Cap is getting so scarce that Elders from the Northern Peoples say that they have never seen so much ocean in the summer in the living memory of their ancestors! Here is a link to NASA’s coverage of the disappearing glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro:

    http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a000000/a003100/a003125/index.html

    We are talking about snow and ice that was over a hundred feet deep! Now most of the glaciers are gone, and in 20 years or less there may no longer be any Snow coverings on Mount Kilimanjaro.

    I don’t know what is causing it, but something is causing these things to melt, and I don’t think that global cooling is doing it!

  36. Oh, and pete: Why is it that when someone conflates weather with climate as esr has knowingly done in a mocking manner twice with these blizzards, the climate change alarmists are always quick to point this out, but they turn around and say that all dangerous weather is caused by climate change? You can’t have your cake and eat it too: if weather is not climate when it comes to temperature, then weather is not climate when it comes to precipitation, storms, hurricanes, etc. Playing on people’s fear of dangerous weather by spreading this kind of FUD is the same sort of game Microsoft plays.

    Imagine that we have a biased coin that comes up tails most of the time. Suppose after 10 straight tails it finally comes up heads. If you say “aha, heads, this means the coin is unbiased” then I’m going to call you dishonest. If the next one is tails again I can say “look, another tails, the coin is clearly biased”, then it’s understood that I’m pointing to an example of typical behaviour, not using a single flip as compelling evidence.

  37. Farrell,

    Some glaciers are growing and some are shrinking. Glaciers are fed by precipitation, so a colder glacier can shrink and a warmer glacier can grow. Pielke has the best take on this. Human activity does change climate. Overgrazing expands deserts – a climate change. Cutting down forests for fuel or farmland changes local precipitation – a climate change. Salinization from irrigation creates deserts -a climate change.

    We have been changing the climate since we domesticated animals and invented agriculture.

    I submit to you that the deforestation of Europe and China – which happens hundreds of years ago – had a bigger effect on global climate than anything since.

    Global warming? I’m a sceptic. Man-made climate change? Sure. Kill off the billions of people it would take to get us to a population of around 100 million and you can stop it. Nothing else will do.

    Yours,
    Tom

  38. > Kill off the billions of people it would take to get us to a population of around 100 million and you can stop it. Nothing else will do.

    The scary part is that there are in fact people who seriously want to do this.

  39. Massachusetts had a dusting of snow on Wednesday, and none Thursday. We’ve had an anti-blizzard force field around us practically all winter.

    Is this our karmic reward for electing Scott Brown?

  40. Kill off the billions of people it would take to get us to a population of around 100 million and you can stop it. Nothing else will do.

    The scary part is that there are in fact people who seriously want to do this.

    According to some quacks on Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura (one of my guilty pleasures), those people would include the Bilderberg Group. Apparently, they’re slowly killing us off with aspartame. :-P

    (Yet another theory that fails the “thought for more than 5 seconds test”)

  41. @esr:

    Here in northwestern Ohio we’ve been experiencing the coda of the Great Blizzard over the last 30 hours – 4″ to 6″ on the ground now, with 1″ to 2″ of snow and/or freezing rain expected through tonight. (This compares with about 6″ to 10″ total from the one-two punch of two weeks and ten days ago.)

    What’s it like in Malvern, PA?

  42. Correction to previous post – THREE weeks and seventeen days ago, respectively. Funny how the time flies when you’re …. Perhaps we shouldn’t confabulate today with previous storm event(s).

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