it's bombogenesis, baby: part II
January 3, 2018 9:44 AM   Subscribe

"First, a monster storm will hammer the East Coast from north Florida to Maine with ice and snow. By Thursday, the exploding storm will, in many ways, resemble a winter hurricane, battering easternmost New England with potentially damaging winds in addition to blinding snow. [...] Forecasters are expecting the storm to become a “bomb cyclone” because its pressure is predicted to fall so fast, an indicator of explosive strengthening."
posted by everybody had matching towels (193 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Huh. Several years ago when we had all the record breaking amounts of snow, much of it dropped by this kind of storm, we had almost no snow before the very end of January and then proceeded to break all the per-storm and overall snow records in a remarkably short amount of time. In Boston, the last of the snow dumped at 'snow farms' finally melted around July 4th.

I really hope this season isn't a rerun of that season.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:47 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


It's my third day at my new job tomorrow so I guess I'm going to try to commute in this! Luckily it's just under 4 miles each way so I could hoof it home if I absolutely have to.
posted by backseatpilot at 9:48 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Some quality social media work from the meteorologist for Norfolk's WTKR, Blaine Stewart:
UPDATE: Get ready for a pounding. Some of us could see 8 inches or more. That's too much --- even for me.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:49 AM on January 3 [71 favorites]


For all the fuss about this, the forecast around here doesn't look very different. Maybe when it gets cold in the east coast big cities, you get fuss.
posted by Bee'sWing at 9:51 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I'm seeing the predictions for 12-16. But that's just fine, need the shoveling exercise, it's the Saturday sub sub sub deep freeze with bursting pipes and bathroom hypothermia... doomed
posted by sammyo at 9:52 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Well BeesWing presumably your region has spent millions to billions on infrastructure upgrades which can handle these conditions and you own appropriate clothing and have access to appropriate shelter for this type of cold, which people in more southerly cities do not, so don't trip over yourself to get all smug. People are almost certainly going to die in this.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:55 AM on January 3 [64 favorites]


time to stock up on emergency donuts
posted by poffin boffin at 9:55 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Maybe when it gets cold in the east coast big cities, you get fuss.

did u kno

cities down south don't usually have an entire fleet of gritters and de-icers just hanging out waiting for a ten year storm
posted by poffin boffin at 9:57 AM on January 3 [52 favorites]


PS if you live in a city and you must order delivery during this, tip like 50% and do it in cash. Those guys are only out there because they have to be.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:57 AM on January 3 [82 favorites]


Title is a reference to a notable 2015 NWS forecast.

If you are interested in following a curated feed of meteorology experts, Eric Holthaus has a very good list, and GOES-EAST has some great satellite imagery.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:58 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Didn't mean to be smug, I'm relatively new to this NE winter thing. I just meant it just seemed more of the same for my area but that the quality of news coverage had changed.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:01 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


In West Coast news, it's dry as hell. I drove over Donner Summit on Sunday morning and there was less than a foot of snow in the shady spots. We're supposed to see a couple of weak storms over the next week, but the snow levels likely won't drop below 7,000 feet.

So basically I wish that California could have your snowstorms, East Coast. We need them desperately.

Also stay warm and dry!
posted by elsietheeel at 10:01 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


I'd like to preemptively apologize to the entire east coast, because I have to drive to work now and the last time this was true was winter 2014-15. The weather gods just like to spite me, and maybe grovelling now will save us.
posted by ultranos at 10:02 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Maybe when it gets cold in the east coast big cities, you get fuss.

Part of the concern up here in Boston is that we're expecting extremely high winds which will likely cause widespread power outages, followed by another huge dip in temperatures. Even up here, a lot of people rely on electric heat (plus, like, our thermostat won't work if there's no power to run it) so there's the potential for a significant part of the area to be without heat right as the temperatures plummet back down in to the single digits again.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:02 AM on January 3 [19 favorites]


Lots of places near where I grew up in NC don't have many buried power lines. We used to lose power in thunderstorms and ice storms pretty regularly. But even with the ice storms it was usually no colder than the mid 20s and even that was unusual.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:06 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


They're predicting 10in of snow in Charleston. I can't even imagine this in a disaster movie.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:10 AM on January 3 [17 favorites]


So:

* Tomorrow morning, my direct boss and two other senior staff where I work are flying down to florida - one out of NYC, one of Rochester and one out of Boston, they are all due to return to their respective homes on Friday afternoon.

* My parents and my brother's family all live on Cape Cod.

(bites nails)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


In West Coast news, it's dry as hell. I drove over Donner Summit on Sunday morning and there was less than a foot of snow in the shady spots. We're supposed to see a couple of weak storms over the next week, but the snow levels likely won't drop below 7,000 feet.

So basically I wish that California could have your snowstorms, East Coast. We need them desperately.


Same in Colorado - local slopes can't even open yet, and there is basically no snow below 9000 feet. This is 3-4th driest year ever recorded and this is very bad. Colorado snow gets turned into California agriculture. It's also ~20 degrees above average. Crazy.

Stay warm and dry, east coasties!
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:13 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I'm a little confused. I've seen these headlines, but I'm visiting family in the DC area, and the forecasts here are pretty mild for the next couple days. Cold, but I'm not seeing much of a warning. Maybe I'm using a crummy weather service?

I'm supposed to be flying tomorrow, but the airline is giving the warning for cities further north and... further south? Living in California for so many years has robbed me of the ability to understand weather.

Sure is cold, though. I saw some homeless encampments in DC yesterday, and I don't know how anyone can survive that.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:19 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Looks like it'll stay just far enough east to only drop an inch or two here in Richmond VA. Of course, we handle 2" of snow way worse than an NE city handles a foot or more, so...
posted by COD at 10:19 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


ugh. my family is all in NW New Jersey. at least they are some what used to this stuff and generally prepared to be sensible and stay inside and off the roads. the south is just not prepared for such temperatures though, esp with the threat of power outages everywhere. be safe and warm, Mefites!!
posted by supermedusa at 10:25 AM on January 3


UPDATE: Get ready for a pounding.
So Thursday is our turn in the barrel, basically
posted by thelonius at 10:25 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I just meant it just seemed more of the same for my area but that the quality of news coverage had changed.

They do seem to be using rather violent words to describe this storm: "assault," "hammer," "exploding," "battering," "bomb," "explosive." I feel like the writer has swallowed a copy of Roget's Thesaurus.
posted by JanetLand at 10:25 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


UPDATE: Get ready for a pounding. Some of us could see 8 inches or more. That's too much --- even for me.

Meanwhile, Chuck Tingle gets to work on his next opus.
posted by acb at 10:26 AM on January 3 [64 favorites]


The Day After Tomorrow, the day after tomorrow.
posted by davelog at 10:29 AM on January 3 [8 favorites]


So, one time, in late MAR/early APRIL I went on a spring break trip through Florida.
It SLEETED on the way back, and we were in a car with no heat because reasons and college and spring break. So I packed like shorts and flip flops. It's really questionable if I even brought socks or closed toed shoes.

I had one of those old giant dell superlaptops that I had turned on under a blanket in my lap to try finish the trip to Louisiana. But the roads were shit and I was SO COLD so a hotel room was purchased (by the boyfriend at the time, to escape my whining).

It is a perfect example of why people die in these things. Stay safe and warm.

*I now live in Chicago, but am sure this is the coldest i had ever been in my life
posted by AlexiaSky at 10:29 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I'm a little confused. I've seen these headlines, but I'm visiting family in the DC area, and the forecasts here are pretty mild for the next couple days. Cold, but I'm not seeing much of a warning. Maybe I'm using a crummy weather service?

DC often gets missed (or at least not fully hit) by snowstorms, I guess due to natural geography or air flow patterns or something. I'm seeing pretty broad agreement across a couple different weather prediction sources that we'll get maybe an inch, while the Maryland and Delaware coast gets hit a lot harder.
posted by Copronymus at 10:31 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


DC often gets missed (or at least not fully hit) by snowstorms, I guess due to natural geography or air flow patterns or something

That makes sense. Part of my childhood was spent further north in Maryland, and I remember being disappointed by how much milder the winters were when my family moved to the DC area.

*I now live in Chicago, but am sure this is the coldest i had ever been in my life

I lived in Chicago, and I can confirm that it was the coldest I have ever been in my life. My walls and windows used to drip with condensation, although that probably says more about my cheapass apartment than anything else.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:36 AM on January 3


> They do seem to be using rather violent words to describe this storm: "assault," "hammer," "exploding," "battering," "bomb," "explosive." I feel like the writer has swallowed a copy of Roget's Thesaurus.

"Let's check the death count from the killer storm bearing down on us like a shotgun full of snow!"

(here's hoping they have similar death counts)
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:38 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Wunderground forecasts -20 to -25 F for us (Vermont's Green Mountains) over the next two days. We hauled in a bunch of firewood from the holz hausen.
I expect the cats will herd us to bed and not let us up for a long time.
posted by doctornemo at 10:49 AM on January 3 [10 favorites]


Yes, even as a lifelong Midwesterner (including growing up in the western Michigan snowbelt) the idea of a major windstorm followed by subzero temperatures is fairly scary. No schadenfreude here.

Stay safe and warm, East Coasters.
posted by tivalasvegas at 10:54 AM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Carriage horse slips, falls on ice in downtown Charleston

Looks like he'll be ok, though.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:55 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


In addition to no removal or sanding equipment, another exacerbating feature in the South and Southwest is nobody knows how to drive in the stuff. And we just had a New Year's Eve with ice. Wheeee [crash!]...
posted by jim in austin at 11:01 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I've seen these headlines, but I'm visiting family in the DC area, and the forecasts here are pretty mild for the next couple days.

With affection, DC is notorious for crumbling in the face of like an inch of snow.
posted by lalex at 11:02 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


yeah i was horrorwatching the charleston weather dept twitter and at like 10am the state police had already reported 77 multiple-car accidents on the main highway
posted by poffin boffin at 11:02 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I feel like the writer has swallowed a copy of Roget's Thesaurus.

But not an atlas; this storm is going to hit Atlantic Canada as well as the U.S.

Maritimers are being advised to put together their 72 hour survival kits. Thousands of Nova Scotians lost power on Christmas Day, in -20 and colder weather. Some people had no power for three days. More people will lose power in this storm, but thankfully it will be warmer.

Maybe when it gets cold in the east coast big cities, you get fuss.

Yeah, because people die. Even in weather-worn Eastern Canada people die during storms. If it's cold and your power goes out you're in trouble if you don't have a heat source. And frequently people use heat sources that kill them via carbon monoxide poisoning. Some people die because they can't get to the hospital because the visibility is too poor or the roads are blocked from snow (you try getting anywhere when a storm drops 89 cm/39" of snow on you in less than 24 hours). Some people die because trees fall on them. Some people die from heart attacks while shoveling snow. The hyperbole in weather reports can be annoying, but it's necessary because fools who think there's no need for a "fuss" don't pay attention and then get stranded somewhere in the middle of a blizzard with no food, blankets, or water.
posted by Stonkle at 11:04 AM on January 3 [23 favorites]


When we lived on Cape Cod we had about 4 feet of snow from a megastorm and lost power (thus heat) for 2 full days. On the afternoon of the third day, with our relatively major street still unplowed and my family huddled under blankets with parkas on, I was about 30 minutes away from calling the police to try and evacuate us when the power came back on. It was the first time in 30+ years of living in New England that I was worried about our safety in a winter storm. Stay safe and warm, friends.

TIP: Fuel up your car(s) even if you don't think you will be driving anywhere, as they make excellent phone chargers (with the obvious caveat of ensuring adequate ventilation - out of garage, dig out tailpipe, etc).

Oh and here is how we deal with snowstorms in North Carolina: Snowpocalypse 2015.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:10 AM on January 3 [11 favorites]


Wunderground forecasts -20 to -25 F for us (Vermont's Green Mountains) over the next two days. We hauled in a bunch of firewood from the holz hausen.

I'm curious, what does -25 feel like? The coldest for me was around 15 degrees, if I remember correctly.

Let's say that you're wearing merino wool under pants and merino wool shirt, wool socks, water resistant winter boots, and for outer layer, jeans, flannel shirt, puffer coat, covered with a hardshell jacket, and wool baklava, would that be enough to be comfy?
posted by Beholder at 11:12 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


So, while driving cross country to move back to nyc, I started coming up with names for Frankenweather. So, this would technically be a blizzardicane (or just a 'blizzcane' if you're from Chicago)...even though the winds are slower they're much much worse than a blizznado, just because they're so much bigger. All things considered, it could be much worse...we could have had a blizzquake, a blizzruption, a blizznami (aka tidal blizzard), or (worst case scenario) a blizzpocalypse.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:12 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


one day, I will have this completely 100% representative painting of how Atlantans prepare for cold snaps hung on my wall
posted by runt at 11:16 AM on January 3 [26 favorites]


Can't say I've ever been in a windless -25º, but this past week in Montreal was -15º + wind down to a wind chill in that territory. The answer is that it's damn cold if you're outside. What you're describing, Beholder, is enough to be comfy if you're moving, but if you're not, it's still going to be really cold.

Also, I got to find out this past week that my nostril hairs will freeze in about 10 seconds if it's -10º or colder. Also, beard/moustache ice is weird.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 11:19 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


100% representative painting of how Atlantans prepare for cold snaps

I gotta get the bread and milk, oh my god I gotta get the bread and milk, THEY SAID SNOW!
posted by uncleozzy at 11:23 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Yeah, it's been continually bitterly cold here in Kingston with bouts of wind and snow that just add to the -15C temps when you go outdoors. Essentially you layer, make sure you have a damn good winter and boots, and move briskly as possible. The nostril hairs freezing thing is so freaky, too.

I'm a born and bred Southerner and this is just going to suck for friends and family back home.
posted by Kitteh at 11:23 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


runt, there is no beer in that painting.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 11:25 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Not only that, but if you make the mistake of pressing against your nostrils while the hairs are frozen you basically stab yourself with your own hair.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:30 AM on January 3 [13 favorites]


May I take a moment to sing the praises of Ponaris for cold weather? It’s a nasal emollient. I put a drop on my finger and swish it around in each of my nares (nose holes). It smells slightly like eucalyptus and it keeps things from drying out in the shitty indoor air, but having spent some time being very cold outdoors, I’m even more in love with it. This magic Oil prevents my snot from freezing. Somehow my nose runs less in the cold with this stuff. And! It smells pretty good and sometimes I catch a whiff of it. Also? It was included in a nasa medical kit at some point, for astronauts.

It won’t keep you warm. It won’t shovel your car out. But it might make life more pleasant.

(Also, this weather is going to suck. I’m so glad NYC doesn’t have overhead power lines. And for gas cooking. Now. To go join the hordes in search of bread...or crackers.)
posted by bilabial at 11:30 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


I just want to run around yelling BOMBOGENESIS, it's too fun. But seriously, my main concern this weekend will be my pipes- our main bathroom has some uninsulated pipes in the attic, and the bathroom was out for a 36 hours day before yesterday. I certainly won't forget again to leave the tap dripping at night!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:32 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I've been using neosporin for nose purposes and it's great and also my snot is now antibacterial and can be used on open wounds
posted by poffin boffin at 11:35 AM on January 3 [16 favorites]


It's interesting that in the prep thread for /r/BostonWeather, the main suggestions are about maintaining power for your electronic devices. I'm more worried about whether the gas heating will continue to work if the power goes out.
posted by Coventry at 11:38 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


that's how you get MRSA in your nose

i highly recommend stuffing fingerfuls of petroleum jelly up there instead
posted by runt at 11:38 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I'm curious, what does -25 feel like

That's cold enough for it to feel like COLD and PAIN at the same time on exposed skin, although pretty much anything below 0°F does, it's worse the colder it gets.

You're going to want some really good mittens at -25. Gloves might be ok, but mittens are better. a good stocking hat/toque is necessary too. Any exposed skin is in danger of frostbite at that point, since the wind is never perfectly calm.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:40 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


I'm more worried about whether the gas heating will continue to work if the power goes out.

Ugh yeah our gas furnace relies on various electric bits and bobs and it's just a matter of time before the tree in front of our house decides that we ought to be cold.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:40 AM on January 3


sounds like someone is jealous of my snot medicine startup, Boogr
posted by poffin boffin at 11:41 AM on January 3 [17 favorites]


-25 F is about -30 C, which is damn cold. We get that often enough in Ottawa, and if you are used to it and have the wardrobe for it you adapt to it. I walk 3 km to and from work every day even in that kind of cold, and my family spent 3 hours skating in those temperatures on Monday. But we have closets full of gear to deal with cold winter weather and we are used to it. My advice is to take the cold seriously. You can always take off layers if you have too many on. I always fight with my kids who don't want to bundle up if we are driving somewhere in the cold. But you gotta be prepared for whatever is outside, even if you are in the car. Doesn't take long to freeze if you aren't prepared.
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:42 AM on January 3 [10 favorites]


please take these 5 bitcoins from me as an investment towards the future of Boogr
posted by runt at 11:44 AM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Meanwhile in Los Angeles, we are at 1/4 inch of rain for the season (normal is 4 inches) and we've been at 80 degrees all week. I'm not sure I'd survive in negative anything, but could we at least get a cold snap?
posted by Sophie1 at 11:45 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Many (many!) people are MRSA carriers, and the place where it lives is....in the nose. Also, the drug that MRSA is resistant to (the M methyl something) is not in neosporin. But maybe stick with Vaseline because it’s cheaper.

But the ponaris. I love it, it just takes a drop. When the air is extra dry and windy, I slather Vaseline on my cheeks after I bathe because otherwise they get chapped.
posted by bilabial at 11:46 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


It should be a app. Please wipe your boogers in the window below for us to analyze.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:46 AM on January 3


Boogr: for when you're not feeling like hot shit on a silver platter.
posted by sexyrobot at 11:48 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I'm curious, what does -25 feel like? The coldest for me was around 15 degrees, if I remember correctly.

That's about where it's so cold you can feel it in your bones the second you go outside and it hurts. Any exposed skin hurts, too, but it's the part where you feel it in your bones that freaks me right out, it's like instantly achy feeling.

If you spit it'll probably crack and freeze before it hits the ground, if it even leaves your lips. Breathing hurts because you're freezing your nose, throat and lungs - and you should maybe be breathing through a mask. -25 F is like 30 degrees colder than a walk in deep freezer in a commercial restaurant.

-25F before windchill is cold enough if you were hiking or climbing a mountain you'd need to consume 10,000+ kcals a day or more just to stay alive. That's fully into "pass the suet, yakbutter tea and pemmican" territory.
posted by loquacious at 11:48 AM on January 3 [4 favorites]


I'm curious, what does -25 feel like? The coldest for me was around 15 degrees, if I remember correctly.

I grew up in northern MN. It was routinely -20 to -30 at times. The main difference is changing how you breathe so you don't get condensation on your lips/face. If you've got good clothing you're fine*. No such thing as bad weather, only bad gear.

I know TV people make a big deal about frostbite, but it's like a sunburn - minor ones aren't bad and unless you're out in the wilderness or willfully stupid, its pretty easy to avoid the severe cases.

One neat thing is that clothes dry faster on the line than in the dryer. Also, the snow gets a different crunch depending on the temperature. Everything gets stiff and things slow down.

* In high school, I was far too cool to wear a winter jacket, and went all winter with just my Levi jean jacket. Sometimes I wore a sweatshirt underneath. No hat. No Gloves. No boots. No long underwear. All of that was for dorks. I would never have survived overnight, but it was fine waiting for the bus, and hanging out with the burnouts smoking in the alley at lunch.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:48 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


We have some kind of baby lotion that smells like spilled bourbon, I want to say? That might be good up the nose.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:48 AM on January 3


Some quality social media work from the meteorologist for Norfolk's WTKR, Blaine Stewart:
UPDATE: Get ready for a pounding. Some of us could see 8 inches or more. That's too much --- even for me.


Tweet now unavailable. Oops!
posted by dnash at 11:49 AM on January 3 [7 favorites]


With affection, DC is notorious for crumbling in the face of like an inch of snow.

Seattle too. Their airport has more snowplows than the city has (and when it snows, the airport needs them, so the city doesn't get to use them). Seattle *closes* when it snows.
posted by el io at 11:50 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Just wanted to say I hope everyone (and that includes MeFi and MeFiFamily) stays safe and warm!
posted by Samizdata at 11:51 AM on January 3


That's fully into "pass the suet, yakbutter tea and pemmican" territory.

The great thing about yak butter is that you can both make tea with it and also stuff it up your nose.
posted by XMLicious at 11:54 AM on January 3 [12 favorites]


> XMLicious:
"That's fully into "pass the suet, yakbutter tea and pemmican" territory.

The great thing about yak butter is that you can both make tea with it and also stuff it up your nose."


I know we don't kinkshame here, but I have to say, "Really? REALLY?"
posted by Samizdata at 11:57 AM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Let's say that you're wearing merino wool under pants and merino wool shirt, wool socks, water resistant winter boots, and for outer layer, jeans, flannel shirt, puffer coat, covered with a hardshell jacket, and wool baklava, would that be enough to be comfy?

Assuming that you include some good gloves, and that the coat has a hood, and that the boots are reasonably well-insulated, and that you're not just arrived from the tropics and totally unaccustomed to cold, the jeans are your only weak point there. Unless you scrupulously avoid any contact with the snow, they will quickly get wet and frozen. Fine for a quick walk across town, less good for more extended periods of outdoor comfiness.
posted by sfenders at 11:57 AM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Nah, in that kind of extreme cold you don't have to worry about jeans getting wet and frozen from snow contact. That would require the snow to melt....
posted by fimbulvetr at 11:59 AM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Be careful as frequent vaseline up your nose can end up in your lungs and cause problems. I'm guessing this must also apply to anything oil-based?
posted by delicious-luncheon at 12:01 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I think the yak butter in ybt has to be rancid for it to be truly considered a delicacy.
posted by carter at 12:01 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Priests and cannibals, prehistoric animals
Everybody happy as the cold comes home
Big white nemesis, a bombogenesis
No one move a muscle as you're frozen to the bone


Shriekback!
posted by stannate at 12:02 PM on January 3 [19 favorites]


Looks like it'll stay just far enough east to only drop an inch or two here in Richmond VA. Of course, we handle 2" of snow way worse than an NE city handles a foot or more, so...

lol, we're looking at up to 8" here on the Peninsula. that's quite a gradient!
posted by indubitable at 12:03 PM on January 3


I was in Chicago for the winter of '93-94? '92? Anyways, with the windchill it got down to something insane like -50, -60F...for like a whole week. The weather warning on the tv was a constant, flashing, capslock roll of "DO NOT GO OUTSIDE!!!" IF YOU DON'T HAVE HEAT CALL THIS NUMBER! etc. I spent the weak ordering plastic tarps and packing blankets from the hardware store and stayed warm by climbing up and down the ladder stapling the blankets to the outside walls and hairdryering the tarps over the windows. Despite the tv warnings I eventually had to go 3-4 blocks to the grocery store. I was so cold it was weird...like the air was frozen. So I kept my face down and just kept going as fast as I could. I saw a moving shadow and looked up and ran face first into half of a frozen pig (being loaded into the butcher shop)...and stuck to it. They had to bring me into the shop and pour warm water over my face to get me unstuck while i basically hemorrhaged snot and tears all over the pig. They probably sold that pig anyway...
posted by sexyrobot at 12:05 PM on January 3 [147 favorites]


To offset some of the gloom that this storm will bring, I can share that my relatives and friends down in south Georgia and north Florida are in full out joy mode over their dusting of snow. Adults and children making wee little snowmen and taking so many pictures. The last time snow happened there was in 1989. I'm 2 hours north and inland, so we get nothing, and I'm a little sad.
posted by bizzyb at 12:07 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Several years ago when we had all the record breaking amounts of snow, much of it dropped by this kind of storm, we had almost no snow before the very end of January and then proceeded to break all the per-storm and overall snow records in a remarkably short amount of time. In Boston, the last of the snow dumped at 'snow farms' finally melted around July 4th.

I moved during one of these storms. The movers had to stop to go to a Home Depot and buy shovels so they could fight their way through the courtyard into the building. Good times, good times.

Everybody remember that, for most, one of the cheapest, easiest, and most effective forms of disaster prep is to fill old 2-liter pop bottles with water. Refresh every six months.
posted by praemunire at 12:08 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


-25C with dry mountain air is crisp and lovely when compared to a damp - 2 C on the east coast. When I lived in Calgary, I rarely bothered with actual winter gear because shovelling the driveway took 10 minutes at most and was often done with a leaf blower I assume that's the sort of cold that Pogo_Fuzzybutt was talking about.

A damp cold is a whole other level of misery though. Imagine the Dementors from Harry Potter but sucking heat instead of joy from the world. It requires lots of layers, some of them waterproof and half of the time the wind still makes you forget that you ever knew the meaning of the words "warm and comfortable". I don't know how people in Ottawa and environs stand it.
posted by peppermind at 12:09 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


Maybe when it gets cold in the east coast big cities, you get fuss.
Another factor in big cities is how many people are dependent on public transportation. They really need to plan ahead so that people don't get stranded if it can't run due to snow or extreme temperatures.

The red line of the T was shut down often in 2015 due to snow and cold. I missed a lot of work and paid a lot for parking. It is not a coincidence that we moved out of the Boston area before winter 2016.
posted by Kriesa at 12:09 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


i basically hemorrhaged snot and tears all over the pig

haha sounds like me and how I relate to my past
posted by runt at 12:10 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Nah, in that kind of extreme cold you don't have to worry about jeans getting wet and frozen from snow contact.

That seems almost plausible, but somehow I'm not keen on running the experiment to find out if there's any truth in it.
posted by sfenders at 12:13 PM on January 3


I moved during one of these storms. The movers had to stop to go to a Home Depot and buy shovels so they could fight their way through the courtyard into the building. Good times, good times.

In 2014 we had like three or four foot-plus storms back-to-back at the end of January into February. We closed on our house during one and then moved the morning after the next, all while mrsozzy was eight months pregnant. I spent probably three hours shoveling both houses to make the move possible. Then there was another storm a few days later and I had such tendonitis after all the shoveling that I could barely grip with my right hand.

And yet, somehow we have not bought a snowblower in the intervening years.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:14 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


we need to bring back the BLINK tag for sexyrobot's pig comment
posted by roger ackroyd at 12:14 PM on January 3 [8 favorites]


Road/sidewalk slush will still be a problem, even if the cold is extreme, because of whatever's being used to melt the snow and ice. So yeah, wet jeans and sadness.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:14 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


I was in Chicago for the winter of '93-94? '92? Anyways, with the windchill it got down to something insane like -50, -60F...for like a whole week.

The coldest winter I ever experienced was my freshman year at Northwestern (1981-82) when it dropped into the minus double-digits like that and stayed that way for much of January. My father came to visit me just as the cold snap broke and the temps got up into the +20-degree range, and I remember walking around with my coat off because it felt so warm.
posted by briank at 12:17 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Salt doesn't work below -21 C (-6 F).
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:17 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Another factor in big cities is how many people are dependent on public transportation. They really need to plan ahead so that people don't get stranded if it can't run due to snow or extreme temperatures.

I admit to having chickened out of the bus to work twice this week, simply because it would be a ten-minute wait. I've also blown off the gym because of a similarly long wait for the bus to take me home after. I don't mind below-freezing temperatures if I'm walking; but standing is brutal.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:20 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


-25C with dry mountain air is crisp and lovely when compared to a damp - 2 C on the east coast.

Yeah, damp cold is the worst. And as temps get lower, the dewpoint falls, so relative humidity does as well. That means that, counter-intuitively, -25f can actually feel warmer than +10f. Also, when it's super cold, being wet is less of a problem - if your pants get wet, they freeze solid or sublimate pretty quick. Turns out that ice is pretty good as a windbreaker, keeping your warm bubble around you better than more breathable fabrics.

In the mountains, things get weird with regards to all of that - I could go on, but it's a derail.

The other thing is after a week or so of -20 degree temps, when it warms up to +15f, it feels like t-shirt weather.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:21 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


A good pair of long underwear (or tights, in a pinch), under the jeans can make quite a difference.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:21 PM on January 3 [10 favorites]


roger ackroyd: "we need to bring back the BLINK tag for sexyrobot's pig comment"

Blink is still supported by Metafilter; it's your browser that has depreciated it.
posted by Mitheral at 12:23 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


This is (hopefully) going to be the last major snowstorm before my 30th birthday next week. I'm going to sleep with my PJs inside out, and I'm going to stock up on hot chocolate mix and popcorn and ice cream and make myself a toasty laptop-compatible blanket fort, and maybe I'll challenge my roommates to a snowball fight or something. Stay warm and safe, fellow East Coasters.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:30 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


I'm curious, what does -25 feel like? The coldest for me was around 15 degrees, if I remember correctly.

Depends how humid and windy it is, as others have pointed out above. You'd probably want to add sunglasses or goggles to your outfit. Eyelashes freeze in extreme cold - it's very uncomfortable. Jeans are a bad idea. They aren't very insulating and if you get wet they will keep you cold for a long time. Wear snow pants instead. Your boots should not be tight to your foot - you need room to develop a warm air pocket.

My teachers up north used to remind us kids not to pee our pants if we got lost or trapped outside in the cold. Apparently people often pee in their pants because It feels nice and warm at first, but then when the pee cools it's awful and you lose all insulation in the wet area.
posted by Stonkle at 12:32 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


I'm seeing mixed reports here. They just updated it from Winter Storm Watch to Winter Storm Warning-- it had been downgraded last night. In NYC the schools are still scheduled to be open, so are they thinking it's not that bad?
posted by blnkfrnk at 12:37 PM on January 3


idk but i will, as suggested, not pee my pants, just in case.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:38 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


DO NOT GO OUTSIDE!!!
posted by sexyrobot at 12:39 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Friendly reminder from the NWS's Blizzard Warning for Suffolk County, NY:
Unsecured Christmas decorations may be blown away or damaged but honestly if your inflatable Shrek goes missing consider yourself lucky.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:44 PM on January 3 [9 favorites]


I often wear jeans in very cold winter weather, but I tuck them into tall water-proof winter boots. Heavy denim keeps the wind out. Snow pants are annoying, so they only come out for really windy and cold winter days (wind chill below -35 C) or if I know I will be getting into the snow -- shoveling the driveway, tobogganing, skiing, that sort of thing.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:48 PM on January 3


Luckily it's just under 4 miles each way so I could hoof it home if I absolutely have to.

I walk about a mile to work each day, and I didn't miss a day last winter. I've already told my boss I'm staying home tomorrow. Cold and snow are one thing, gale force winds are another again. I really, really hope you don't have to hoof it.
posted by solotoro at 1:01 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I've never been so appreciative of the Allegheny Mountains. Enjoy your snowpacalypse, East Coast! It'll be a balmy -1F and dry here. (It's supposed to warm up on Sunday and omg please please please I can't fucking wait. This is too cold!)

Pittsburgh, despite being, yanno, cold, is in a pretty good position for avoiding both Noreasters storms coming in from the West. The mountains tend to deflect the former back to the East and the latter go over top of us to the North. We don't get nearly as much snowfall as people assume given the location.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:04 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


The other thing Boston and the rest of the coastal parts of the coast need to worry about is a storm surge and exciting coastal flooding (which will turn to icebergs on Sat)
posted by rmd1023 at 1:11 PM on January 3


With affection, DC is notorious for crumbling in the face of like an inch of snow.

I'm a Rhode Islander who went to school in Chicago and now lives right outside DC so I hear this a lot and I do get it and it's kind of amusing and all but I also think people are missing that being snow-ready takes a lot of time and money and planning and space and that's time and money and planning and space that can't go to other things. If you live in Chicago or Buffalo or Boston or wherever then yes, the payoff of preparing for snow is clearly worth it, but in DC prioritizing snow preparedness and removal over other civic functions might not be the right tradeoff. I'm not saying DC couldn't handle snow better, and it's possible I'm wrong about this and I'm happy to be corrected, but maybe it's not that DC local government is full of morons who can't prepare for snow, maybe it's that, for example, maintaining a fleet of snowplows and road salters is extremely expensive and a silly choice. It just kind of annoys me when I hear this (and, again, I hear it a LOT) because I actually don't think investing a lot in snow preparedness infrastructure is the right choice for DC when there is so much else to do.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 1:12 PM on January 3 [26 favorites]


the Maryland and Delaware coast gets hit a lot harder.

Yup, yup, yup. We're supposed to get 4 - 8 ".

Some winters we get no snow whatsoever, and never before January/February, and mostly just a few inches. This year (last year?) we got substantial snow in early December.

I was in a Wal-Mart this morning, in a fairly small town, and I have never seen so many people buying so much stuff. The lines were worse than Thanksgiving Eve. Considering how many folks live down country roads, how few snow plows we have....I don't blame them.

I'm worried about a lot of our poor and elderly folks ; old farmhouses aren't necessarily very weather proof, and emergency shelters are not within reach for many.
posted by Archipelago at 1:16 PM on January 3


Something to think about: I went through a very cold winter in the west about 25 years ago, it was -40 out and my truck's engine block froze solid. It was outside. So, very cold weather can just...make a vehicle not function at all, let alone start.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 1:17 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


(-25C is only -13F. -25F is -31C.)

On the positive sides of -25F, if it’s not very windy, the air smells incredibly fresh and clear and pure. It won’t feel like COLD and PAIN if you’re only out for a few minutes, although your eyes will probably water and your nose will run a little, and if you wear glasses, expect to not see for 5 minutes once you come back inside and get all fogged up.

Honestly, assuming your place is nearby and you’re dressed appropriately, super duper cold is kind of a neat experience. And IIRC it’s cold enough to do the “throw water in the air, it lands as ice” trick. (Apparently too many people, when using boiling water for this, throw the water up above themselves instead of away from themselves. Don’t do that. If you’re going to throw boiling water, throw it so it doesn’t land back on you.) You can blow bubbles that will freeze in midair, too. If the sky is clear at night (which it usually is, to get that cold), the stars look particularly bright and vivid.

Yeah, it’s a good idea to plug your car in if you don’t have a garage to put it in.
posted by Autumnheart at 1:19 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Guys I am flying to NY tomorrow with partner and toddler.

We have never taken the carseat flying before; we have just been rebooked on Delta so instead of a nonstop we are going to Detroit from Columbus OH and then to JFK. We get in several hours later than initially planned, after toddler bedtime. Partner has two job interviews Friday at MLA.

I haven't packed yet and am not sure whether my plan to put everything under the plane is a good idea, now that we are transferring. Possibility of lost luggage suddenly looms.

Cross fingers for us all, okay?
posted by Lawn Beaver at 1:24 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I'd plan to be stuck in your layover city for way longer than they're predicting. Carry on whatever it will take to keep toddler sane and not covered in poop.
posted by poffin boffin at 1:30 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


It just kind of annoys me when I hear this (and, again, I hear it a LOT) because I actually don't think investing a lot in snow preparedness infrastructure is the right choice for DC when there is so much else to do.

I am genuinely sorry I annoyed you, I really did mean it with affection as a NYCer who lived in DC for about a year and definitely heard it from a lot of DC residents and natives. I certainly agree with you that city funds that don't go to snow preparedness can benefit a wide variety of other needs that I'd probably assign a higher value to.

My affectionate surprise when I lived there was more about the sort of reaction and emergency prep that meets a DC snowfall forecast since it's a regular winter occurrence there and the city doesn't get that much less snow than NYC.
posted by lalex at 1:34 PM on January 3


A good pair of long underwear (or tights, in a pinch), under the jeans can make quite a difference.

Or pajama pants, perfect cold weather underlayers for when you're rolling out of bed right before class and getting right back in bed after.
posted by jason_steakums at 1:48 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


it's just under 4 miles each way so I could hoof it home if I absolutely have to.
Careful, backseatpilot. You really need the right sort of clothes for trekking like this. Wading in a foot of snow is hard, sweaty work, and you can get seriously cold when you have to stop to rest. Not to mention, when you're walking into the wind, it sucks the heat right out of your clothes, even if you have on Carhartt coveralls. (Ask me how I know!)

Let's say that you're wearing merino wool under pants and merino wool shirt, wool socks, water resistant winter boots, and for outer layer, jeans, flannel shirt, puffer coat, covered with a hardshell jacket, and wool baklava, would that be enough to be comfy?

Beholder, that's barely adequate for survival if you're indoors and your heat goes off overnight. I suggest a sleeping bag with a hot water bottle, a blanket fort to hide out in, hot chocolate in a thermos with cookies, and a minimum of two dogs to snuggle. Larger and more hairy, the better.
If you're going outside... Why would you want to do that?
posted by BlueHorse at 2:00 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


The other thing Boston and the rest of the coastal parts of the coast need to worry about is a storm surge and exciting coastal flooding

Talking Head: WE NOW GO LIVE to our intrepid reporter Bob, who is standing directly above the sea wall in Scituate, where flood waters threaten the same eight houses they've threatened every time there's been a storm surge in the last fifty years. Bob?
Bob: I'm standing on top of the lowest point of the sea wall in Scituate, to bring you live coverage of this unprecedented storm. For reasons known only to me and my producer, I'm doing so from easily the most dangerous point in New England, which might look familiar to the viewing audience from the last eight times I've stood in this exact same spot to exclaim breathlessly over the weather. Behind me are a bunch of people with more money than sense, who have refused to buy flood insurance even after the federal policy change four years ago made it mandatory for insurance companies to provide them with coverage. Luckily for them, they'll still be bailed out with federal disaster funds when their houses are inevitably destroyed by climate change. Back to you in the studio, Jane.
posted by Mayor West at 2:04 PM on January 3 [32 favorites]


I have a velcro-fastened "sport kilt" which I find is a fantastic outer layer on top of multiple trouser-type layers. In ultra-frigid weather like this I've also just wrapped a blanket around my waist and affixed it with a large belt as a more-insulating version, though if you're doing anything more active than walking or cross-country skiing it can impair your movement.

Wading in a foot of snow is hard, sweaty work

This is a good point... insulating clothing is important, but if you're too insulated for your amount of exertion, you can sweat enough to cause dehydration. So wear all the layers for safety's sake, but make sure to actually take layers off or at least loosen them if you find yourself overheating.
posted by XMLicious at 2:15 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Yeah, it’s a good idea to plug your car in if you don’t have a garage to put it in.

Plug in your car? I'm assuming that you're not talking about an electric car here? Is confused.
posted by octothorpe at 2:16 PM on January 3


Plug in your car?

Block heater!
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 2:19 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I'd expect that "plug in your car" is referring to an engine block heater. In places with severe winters, you encounter outdoor parking lots where every parking space has an electrical outlet for this.
posted by XMLicious at 2:20 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Huh, never encountered such a thing.
posted by octothorpe at 2:24 PM on January 3


Huh, never encountered such a thing.

Welcome to Climate Change USA!
posted by valkane at 2:27 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


I've left cars out in -10F and never had a problem starting them. How cold does it have to be to need one of those gadgets?
posted by octothorpe at 2:30 PM on January 3


I've found them useful in some cases anywhere below about 20℉, but I've always owned cars more than ten years old, often much older than that. (Probably in some cases I should actually have had my oil changed to a winter-weight viscosity rather than relied on the heater.)
posted by XMLicious at 2:40 PM on January 3


Or pajama pants, perfect cold weather underlayers for when you're rolling out of bed right before class and getting right back in bed after.

Ramona Quimby disproved this 40 years ago.
posted by elsietheeel at 2:42 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


@octothorpe

Assuming your vehicle battery is not extremely old, you should have no issues starting your vehicle. If those temperatures hold for a few days, and you don't start your vehicle during that time, then you may run into issues.

When temperature approach -40f that's when vehicles tend to fail to start without using a block heater.
posted by axismundi at 2:47 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


When temperature approach -40f that's when vehicles tend to fail to start without using a block heater.

And white walkers. Don’t forget about those. Speaking of which, we could use some dragonglass up here on the ontario wall.
posted by valkane at 2:54 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Nah, in that kind of extreme cold you don't have to worry about jeans getting wet and frozen from snow contact. That would require the snow to melt....

That reminds me of the time I fell through the ice as a kid on a spot that hadn't frozen solid because a couple of feet of snow was on top of it, insulating it. Luckily, there was only a foot or so of water underneath, so only my lower legs got wet. On the half-mile walk home, my wet pants froze solid. This was a good thing, because it meant that I didn't have wet pants clinging to my legs. Instead, they clanked around a couple of inches away from my legs. If the evening hadn't been so cold, I would've - ironically - ended up colder.

Cold water is so much more dangerous than solidly cold snow and ice. Dry snow is an excellent insulator; we would pile a couple of feet of it up around the foundation of our house during the winter to save on heating bills. And igloos, of course - everybody knows about those.

One of the most curious pieces of advice that you'll get in cold-weather country is to avoid sweating. If you're working hard in the cold, you're sometimes better off to cut down on your layers so that you don't get too hot and sweat. The way the old folks told it, that sweat could kill you once it turned to a layer of cold water covering your skin.
posted by clawsoon at 3:01 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Yeah, North To The Night is a great book about living in a harsh environment. The Inuits are very careful about breaking a sweat, so they move slowly and deliberately. And the permafrost on their outer garments is carefully maintained by leaving those outside. The best part of the book is when his shotgun freezes up, and when he pulls the trigger nothing happens, so he lays it carefully down. Stay frosty everybody!
posted by valkane at 3:20 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


sexyrobot, I was in Chicago for that winter as well. I worked downtown at an investment management company, and they sent out a memo saying we could wear whatever we needed to wear as long as we were warm. The office was at Wacker & Madison; I took the Metra from Hyde Park to Randolph St. Station and then stayed in the underground tunnels, which got me halfway across the Loop. I think other days I may have shared a cab with a co-worker who came in on a different train but got there at the same time.

A few years prior, I spent a few days in what was then Leningrad. There was one day when it was -40, no wind chill, and we were on a bus, touring the city, and we got out at some monument or other. I remember the camera froze, and my boyfriend had to keep it inside his coat until he saw something to take a picture of.
posted by mogget at 3:25 PM on January 3


I have a velcro-fastened "sport kilt" which I find is a fantastic outer layer on top of multiple trouser-type layers. In ultra-frigid weather like this I've also just wrapped a blanket around my waist and affixed it with a large belt as a more-insulating version, though if you're doing anything more active than walking or cross-country skiing it can impair your movement.

excuse me but I think you mean a "butt scarf"
posted by poffin boffin at 3:38 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Well technically a "manly butt scarf" since as a dude the names of my clothing and accessories have to be gendered and macho-sounding. The great thing about a manly butt scarf is that you can fold it up and easily fit it in a shoulder bag next to your chapstick and body spray.
posted by XMLicious at 4:20 PM on January 3 [6 favorites]


Assuming your vehicle battery is not extremely old, you should have no issues starting your vehicle.

Just don't frivolously stop and restart your engine. Each crank drains the battery a little bit, and in cold weather you may not get as many cranks as you usually do.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:40 PM on January 3


I am actually starting to hope we see snow very soon here in SE NC because we've been accumulating freezing rain for three hours. Plus, it's windy. Power outages will not be far off if the ice continues.

I have plenty of winter clothes to wear and three cats to snuggle; the water pipes aren't so fortunate.
posted by mightshould at 4:54 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Nah, in that kind of extreme cold you don't have to worry about jeans getting wet and frozen from snow contact.

The very first time I went snowboarding it involved jeans, old school waffle weave long johns and white out conditions. It was profoundly uncomfortable.

Even cheap shell pants or snow pants over some jeans or comfy pants or sweats can help a lot, if only for being able to sit on things without getting a wet and/or frozen butt. They'll also cut any wind chill a lot more than jeans. Be careful about sweat, especially with non-breatheable shell pants or jackets, it can build up fast. Take time to pause and vent and stay dry. (And if the inside of your hard shell pants or jacket are damper than the outside? turn 'em inside out for a while and slow down.)

Hey dudes? You want some really toasty legs? Go to your nearest Target, Walgreens, dept store or other and pick up some fleece lined tights from the women's section. They come in footed and footless and they almost always have plain black or grey or something. They work way better than most long johns with less bunching, and they're usually way, way cheaper. You can even wear two if it's extra cold.

Granted I live somewhere temperate and -25 F is totally alien to me.

20F is pretty cold around here at sea level. I've camped outside in 10F, which starts to get crisp and comfortable and more dry, but it's still really cold. I was heating up rocks and water canteens for my sleeping bag and burning mass calories. I really want to do some snow camping eventually, I'd probably love it.
posted by loquacious at 5:15 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


The way the old folks told it, that sweat could kill you once it turned to a layer of cold water covering your skin.

If you're hot enough, and its cold enough, take off your layers and youll be dry in no time. Also, if youre running from the sauna to the hole in the ice at the lake, go quickly, or the steam makes it hard to see. :-)
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:28 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


Ok, NOW the schools are closed but I still have to go to work. &@$!#%*!.
posted by blnkfrnk at 5:29 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


it just seemed more of the same for my area but that the quality of news coverage had changed.

Obviously, the more dramatic weather forecasters make what’s coming sound, the more people pay attention to them, so they have a natural inclination to do so. Which doesn't mean anyone shouldn’t be ready for the worst that might happen. And those of us in the frozen North don't really want to ridicule the less experienced/prepared folks more to the South, but with what we regularly put up with – the mean temperature here the last four days has been -2°, -2°, 0°, and 0° – we have to amuse ourselves somehow.

There have been at least two good AskMes over the years about preparing for winter.

p.s. I don't really see that much difference between being outside in 15°F and -15°F, if you dress for it, but as backseatpilot mentions, once winds get added to the equation things can go wrong in a hurry.
posted by LeLiLo at 6:07 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


If you can't afford the installation cost of a block heater, the poor man's version is a dipstick oil heater. Not as good, but it helps. If you don't have the hot stick, a high-wattage incandescent lightbulb next to the engine is supposed to help some.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:19 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but we have snowplows and salt trucks. And houses built to retain heat. I wouldn’t want to be stuck in some drafty-ass Southern house while the whole county turns into a skating rink and there’s two plows for the whole state.
posted by Autumnheart at 6:23 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I was gonna say, Kirth, they just put a mechanics light under the hood.
posted by valkane at 6:24 PM on January 3


And Valyrian steel under the cloak.
posted by valkane at 6:25 PM on January 3 [1 favorite]


You know it's serious in the North when the weather warnings include "your life is in danger in the path of this storm" like I did a couple years ago.

That's pretty creepy to hear coming out of the weather radio with the text-to-speech voice reading it.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:37 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


So, very cold weather can just...make a vehicle not function at all, let alone start.

When my daddy lived up in Yellowknife everyone just basically left their trucks running all the time once it hit -40 consistently. I guess there was little incentive to steal a running truck when there were no roads out of town though. Might not work as well on the East Coast.

He also use to sometimes walk home from the airport (5 or 6 km so about an hour) and preferred that in the colder weather because even the lynxs stayed in bed instead of stalking him.
posted by saucysault at 6:48 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


Super common with diesel engines since the fuel will gel up if there isn't something keeping it warm.

Also you just get another key cut for the door so you can leave it running with the door locked.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:55 PM on January 3


I'm a metrological dilettante, but is this thing basically a frozen tropical storm? It's a huge mass of wetness that came from off the coast and hit the artic air mass currently reigning over much of the CONUS, and it's now following a tropical cyclone-like path up the coast. If this were July instead of January would this thing have a name?
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:52 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


They just sent the email! I get to stay home!!! Don’t bother coming to the library, anyone!
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:58 PM on January 3 [18 favorites]


Yeah, damp cold is the worst. And as temps get lower, the dewpoint falls, so relative humidity does as well.

This statement is not correct, or more charitably is unclear about the relationship between air temperature, dew point, and relative humidity. A lower temperature does not necessarily mean a lower relative humidity. In fact, the opposite is the more typical case. For example, the normal diurnal pattern in most places is for temperature to drop at night and as a consequence, relative humidity will rise. If the air temperature is able to drop enough to match the dew point, then the relative humidity at that moment is 100%. Perhaps you were talking about different air masses coming from different source regions? Very cold arctic air masses do indeed have very low dew points compared to warmer maritime sourced air masses. The arctic air mass will probably have a lower relative humidity, but it doesn't have to be. What determines relative humidity is the spread between air temperature and dew point of the air mass. This is why southerners who claim 95 degree air temperatures with 95-100% humidity are always wrong--the requisite spread between air temperature and dew point for this condition never occurs for air masses within North America.

Here is a quick quiz for everybody: Which air do you think contains more moisture?: (A) a sunny 115 degree blazing hot afternoon in Phoenix with a relative humidity of 8%, (B) a sunny 10 degree afternoon in Minneapolis with a relative humidity of 30%, or (C) a 33 degree rainy day in DC with a relative humidity of 100%?

Answer = A
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:58 PM on January 3 [4 favorites]


Super common with diesel engines since the fuel will gel up if there isn't something keeping it warm.

Buddy of mine visiting his summer place ( on the top of a hill ) would leave his diesel vw fox running all weekend
posted by mikelieman at 8:00 PM on January 3


is this thing basically a frozen tropical storm? It's a huge mass of wetness that came from off the coast and hit the artic air mass currently reigning over much of the CONUS, and it's now following a tropical cyclone-like path up the coast. If this were July instead of January would this thing have a name?

No, this is not a "frozen tropical storm" and if the same storm happened in July it would not have a name. This is just a super strong version of a mid-latitude low pressure system. It isn't a tropical storm. Tropical storms and mid-latitude lows are both low pressure systems with wind that circles the storm center in the same direction (counter clockwise in northern hemisphere), but the internal structure and dynamics of both are very different. Tropical storms are called "warm core" and they derive their energy from warm ocean water (minimum water temperature required is about 77 F). Mid latitude lows like this one are called cold core systems and they derive their energy from large thermal gradients that exist between cold continental air masses and much warmer ocean water.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:09 PM on January 3 [7 favorites]


I should have added that these mid latitude lows are more commonly called "extratropical" cyclones to distinguish them from tropical cyclones. Here is a map showing where the formation of extratropical "bomb" cyclones are most common. Note the lack of such storms in the lower tropical latitudes. There are typically 50-60 "bomb" cyclones every year on Earth in the favored regions shown on the map. The most common areas are off the east coast of North America and Asia. This is because these two regions have the unique combination (in winter) of very cold continental/arctic air masses interacting with much warmer ocean currents: Gulf Stream off North America and the analogous Kuroshio current off of Asia.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 8:28 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


Pittsburgh, despite being, yanno, cold, is in a pretty good position for avoiding both Noreasters storms coming in from the West. The mountains tend to deflect the former back to the East and the latter go over top of us to the North. We don't get nearly as much snowfall as people assume given the location.

Mean annual snowfall:

Pittsburgh: 44.6"
Boston: 43.7"
Providence:36.7"
NYC: 29.4"
Philly: 22.3"
DC: 19.5"

Snowfall climatology is interesting because our brains focus on and selectively remember big events, like this one. The east coast cities tend to get the bulk of their snowfall in a small number of big storms. Other areas, like Minneapolis for example (50 inches per year on average) don't normally get these big blockbuster events, but get more frequent/smaller storm events with a longer snow season because it is colder than east coast locations.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 9:12 PM on January 3 [2 favorites]


Does no one in New England and Canada have back up heat? Most people here have wood stoves, I have a gas insert stove that'll run without power. But most every house and apartment at least has a crappy fireplace.

I just can't believe that no one has a pan for the power being out, that seems 100% unlikely.

Super common with diesel engines since the fuel will gel up if there isn't something keeping it warm

They've had additives for that since the 70s. And pug in heaters. No one leaves diesels running all the time since then unless they are crazy.
posted by fshgrl at 9:13 PM on January 3


octothorpe: "I've left cars out in -10F and never had a problem starting them. How cold does it have to be to need one of those gadgets?"

Carbed cars used to need this more. Both because carbs and also because the engines were generally looser. Modern fuel injection engines are usually good down to -15/-20C though it doesn't really hurt much to plug them in.

On the other hand it's often a good idea to plug diesels in whenever it hits freezing.

Kirth Gerson: "If you can't afford the installation cost of a block heater, the poor man's version is a dipstick oil heater. Not as good, but it helps. If you don't have the hot stick, a high-wattage incandescent lightbulb next to the engine is supposed to help some."

Better is a magnetic pan heater. You can use a couple, one on the oil pan and another on the block (assuming you don't have an aluminum block) somewhere to heat up the coolant.

fshgrl: "Does no one in New England and Canada have back up heat? Most people here have wood stoves, I have a gas insert stove that'll run without power. But most every house and apartment at least has a crappy fireplace."

It's pretty well only rural people who have back up heat around here (interior of BC). Urban dwellers often only have gas furnaces (or in warmer places heat pumps) and if they do have gas fireplaces they often need electricity to run. My place is unusual in having standing pilot gas fireplaces but they are also a retrofit into wood fireplaces. My detached shop doesn't need power to heat the water for the in floor heating but it does need power to run the circulation pump. It's so well insulated and features several solar gain strategies that it takes several days at -10 to cool below freezing inside and even longer for the massive floor to drop below 0. Also there are many urban areas in BC where it is illegal to install wood heat because of air quality issues. Your more well to do homeowner may have various levels of back up generator but I'd think that accounts for less than 1 in 100 urban households.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 PM on January 3 [5 favorites]


loquacious: "The very first time I went snowboarding it involved jeans, old school waffle weave long johns and white out conditions. It was profoundly uncomfortable."

The first time I went skiing I wore jeans.

I never made that mistake again.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:43 PM on January 3


> Does no one in New England and Canada have back up heat?

I didn't live in a lot of apartment buildings in Boston, but no, it was not common for every apartment to have a fireplace. House in Maine had a fireplace. Two crappy student houses in New Hampshire and Vermont, no.

Things I don't miss about living in cold climes (my current uninsulated one heat-source home in coastal NorCal notwithstanding, since it doesn't drop to these hideous degrees). Stay warm and safe, everyone who does.
posted by rtha at 10:07 PM on January 3 [3 favorites]


We booked an impromptu trip to Puerto Rico to support our frirnds’ local businesses. I just checked the weather back home and now I’m considering not getting on the plane.
posted by snickerdoodle at 3:09 AM on January 4


Out my back door is approximately 1/3 inch of ice with 2 inches of snow on top. The monsters have experienced their first snow; I let them out into the kittykompound (hey, they asked) Bertie Wooster loved it outside. Jeeves was very displeased.

I think I'll stay home today. Plus, it's unlikely that I could open the iced over car door.
posted by mightshould at 3:11 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Back around 1970, I lived for a while in Townsend, MA, which at the time (maybe still) held the state record for coldest temp. Under -30F. It got down to the -20s a couple of winters while I was there. All the people I knew had older, carburated cars, which wouldn't start. If one guy got his car going, he would drive to everybody's house and jumpstart them. In my case, it took an actual push start, using a spare tire as a bumper.

Stuff like lock de-icing spray and gas-line de-icing fluid were hot sellers in those days.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:15 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Mean annual snowfall:

Pittsburgh: 44.6"
Boston: 43.7"
Providence:36.7"
NYC: 29.4"
Philly: 22.3"
DC: 19.5"


That's interesting because it really seldom storms here in Pittsburgh. We just get continuous flurries for days. 90% of the time I can use a push broom to clean the snow off the sidewalk and not bother with a shovel.
posted by octothorpe at 4:30 AM on January 4


I work with a big window onto the main window on our little Philly-area town Main Street, and boy I hope people and animals have cover. A nurse told me yesterday she'd was in the office because they were slow at the ER, aside from "all the homeless people coming n to get warm."
posted by angrycat at 5:10 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Yeah, here in RI, it's all saved up for big storms like this - otherwise the weather is typically in the 30's most of the winter, with more rain than snow.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:12 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


For fellow weather geeks, there is an interesting feature happening right now with this storm in the Boston metro area, called a "coastal front". This is an actual front dividing relatively mild maritime air from colder continental air. This is a feature in the Boston-Providence area for almost every winter storm of this type and it is a major forecasting nightmare for local meteorologists because it defines where it will rain and where it will snow (get it wrong and you're screwed). So right now the front is just inland from the coast over the SE suburbs. Plymouth Mass for example is 40 degrees and raining this morning, ditto for all of Cape Cod. The winds in these areas are easterly, off the ocean. But just further west by like 10 miles, on the other side of the front, temperatures are in the 20s with snow. Moreover, the coastal front creates a little extra "lift" in the atmosphere as that warmer maritime air is forced up and over the colder air to the west--this lift enhances snowfall amounts just to the west of the front. The exact position of this front depends on subtle differences in the track of these big ocean storms--sometimes the front pushes west more to include the I-95 corridor, sometimes not. But they are important enough to significantly affect snowfall climatology in southern New England. For example, the area from Block Island RI, to Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket only gets about 20 inches of snow per year--about the same as DC and about half of what Boston gets. This is because of these coastal fronts. The predicted snowfall for the outer Cape in this storm is only about 1 inch for example. For them, this is just a windy rain storm.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:12 AM on January 4 [5 favorites]


Mean annual snowfall:

Pittsburgh: 44.6"
Boston: 43.7"
Providence:36.7"
NYC: 29.4"
Philly: 22.3"
DC: 19.5"


That is wild because octothorpe is right, it rarely storms here. The winter weather is notoriously grey and it does frequently put down an inch or two (there's about three on the ground now from last week) but I never imagined we get more snow than Boston! We definitely don't get it all at once like the coastal cities do. All things considered, given I have to commute by car, I'm happy to take the constant flurries over a city-stopping 16-inch dump that takes weeks to clear up. (We have gotten those kinds of events, but it's not every winter, more like every 3-4 years.)
posted by soren_lorensen at 5:21 AM on January 4


That is wild because octothorpe is right, it rarely storms here. The winter weather is notoriously grey and it does frequently put down an inch or two (there's about three on the ground now from last week) but it never imagined we get more snow than Boston!

When I retire I want to write a weather book. The provisional title is "You actually don't know the weather in your own back yard".....or something like that.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:28 AM on January 4 [9 favorites]


BTW....US Comparative Climatic Data is a great site if you want to quickly compare mean conditions for locations all across the USA. And it includes variables like relative humidity, cloudiness, snowfall, and sunshine.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:49 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]


pops is a now-retired 30-year active duty USAF meteorologist. still smart as a whip, runs a very sophisticate hobbyist weather station on his property. regularly issues (to family) forecast corrections to tv weather forecasts.

me:
is 'polar vortex' a real word? or did some meteorologist one time say, "look here in this polar region. that's a big vortex."

then the cable news guys ruined it?

pops:
The polar vortex is real, it's nothing new, and has become a buzz word among the media.

Think a smooth earth, no mountains and no oceans water. Equator gets more sun than the poles. Air wants to equalize. Warmer air at equator rises, heads north. Colder air at poles sinks, heads south. Earth is spinning, hence Coriolis force bend warmer high altitude air heading north to the east. Voila! the jet stream. Colder air near surface heads south but is affected by surface friction. So, north of the jet stream is a permanent high altitude low pressure (polar vortex) and a cold high pressure near the surface. South of the jet stream is a semi-permanent high pressure around the equator at high altitude. Now throw in mountains and oceans. Same basic idea, except atmospheric features meander due to friction and differential heating. When the low pressure aloft over the poles meanders or splits into a couple of separate lows, the cold air underneath meanders around and you get these cold outbreaks that the under-educated think is something not normal. Been around forever. Nothing new.
posted by j_curiouser at 6:01 AM on January 4 [13 favorites]


> pops is a good splainer.
posted by theora55 at 6:53 AM on January 4 [3 favorites]




Fizz posted a check-in MeTa for this storm. Stay safe and warm, everyone.
posted by Westringia F. at 7:14 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Neighbor’s dog menaced my wife at the bus stop last week, so I heaved a sigh of relief last night when I realized the water department was digging in his front yard and not a nice person’s yard.

Here in Rhode Island we have a bunch of fluffy snow coming down. Last night the gas stations were mobbed and Lowe’s was overrun; someone told me she had seen a lady taking a gallon of milk out of another customer’s cart at the grocery store, which is a new low in human pre-storm relations.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:19 AM on January 4 [2 favorites]


The polar vortex is real, it's nothing new, and has become a buzz word among the media.

The news/media has a hard on for "memifying" the weather the last few years. A phrase or buzz word that sounds scary: Snowpocalypse, Polar Vortex, Snowmageddon, etc. It feels gross and its an attempt to get ratings and to trend.

That being said, if it helps people pay more attention and plan ahead so that they can be safe. I'm cool with it.
posted by Fizz at 9:08 AM on January 4 [1 favorite]


With affection, DC is notorious for crumbling in the face of like an inch of snow.
I just want to interject that the second linked article actually does a pretty good job explaining why DC was crippled during that 2016 storm -- the region's general level of snow-preparedness wasn't really a factor.

The forecast only called for a light dusting, which ended up being far heavier than anticipated. It was also incredibly poorly timed -- during the tail-end of the evening rush hour, 1-3 inches of of incredibly wet, heavy snow blanketed the entire region over the course of about an hour. The sun had just set, and the ground wasn't quite frozen when the snow began to fall -- the initial coating turned to ice almost immediately.

The local news had also focused on reporting on an anticipated storm later in the week, which meant that, even though a light dusting was reported on, it didn't get very much attention.

I was at the gym in Rockville when it started snowing, and was completely taken aback when I stepped outside to find several inches of snow on the ground.

I grew up and learned to drive in a place where it snows -- the driving conditions were arguably some of the worst that I've ever encountered. My drive home normally takes 30 minutes, ended up taking over 2 hours. I got stuck twice.

tl;dr; We went from "no meaningful snow in the forecast" to "every road is completely impassible" over the course of about an hour. Rush hour, specifically.

---

I've lived in DC for nearly 8 years (incidentally, I moved here during a blizzard!), so I think I'm somewhat qualified to comment on how the region handles snow.

DC handles snow about as well as you'd expect it to, and about as well as it needs to.

We're the southernmost city on the East Coast that receives appreciable amounts of snow each winter. We get less snow than Philadelphia or NYC, but a lot more than Richmond. More importantly, even though DC gets less snow than its northern neighbors, our major snow events actually do tend to be similar in magnitude.

In other words, local governments have good reason to prepare for major snow events, and for the most part, they do. There really isn't much difference between preparing for 2" of snow, and 12." We absolutely have good reason to prepare for the former, and can deal with the latter on the rare occasion when it happens.

The one major caveat: DC is a relatively transient city. It's home to a large number of transplants from the south. Many people here have never needed to learn to drive in the snow.

Additionally, our western suburbs in Northern Virginia include a lot of those southern transplants, get more snow than DC, are unreasonably car-dependent, and do not adequately fund their local governments. They tend to overreact to snow (which further entrenches the problem where nobody here really knows how to drive in snowy conditions).

There is one thing which I'll fault the DC area on: We use way too much salt, and do a lot of unnecessary pretreatment of our roads. This completely destroys the roads, kills plants, costs money, and doesn't really help anything. We get enough snow/ice that we should know better.
posted by schmod at 10:47 AM on January 4 [10 favorites]


Several years ago when we had all the record breaking amounts of snow, much of it dropped by this kind of storm, we had almost no snow before the very end of January and then proceeded to break all the per-storm and overall snow records in a remarkably short amount of time. In Boston, the last of the snow dumped at 'snow farms' finally melted around July 4th.

My parents snowbirded that year, and I flew out of Logan to Myrtle Beach to visit them in between storms. I was forced to extended my trip by several days because the big WTF storm happened on the day I was supposed to fly back. Also, the Patriots won the Super Bowl while I was there and I celebrated by jumping into the ocean. My friends and coworkers back home hated me for a bit for all that.
posted by Ruki at 12:00 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


https://twitter.com/AndreaWBZ?s=09 has a thread of some scary videos from the Boston area. Lots of flooding on the coasts. Anecdotal report from mid-cape area had mostly rain but fuck-all wild wind speeds earlier today.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:44 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


Here along the East Bay of RI, the wind is mercifully mild as these things go, and the temp is cooler than predicted so the snow is light and fluffy rather than wet and heavy. Still, we have 16"+ since 7am, and it's likely to keep coming down until 7pm tonight.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:58 PM on January 4


My favorite meteorologist, Dave Epstein, is tweeting some amazing pictures of the flooding (that one of the Gloucester HS football stadium under water).
posted by TwoStride at 1:23 PM on January 4


So, is all of that water going to freeze? Or mostly recede and then leave a frozen icy shell over everything that got wet? Or what? I’ve never really thought about flooding in the winter.
posted by Weeping_angel at 1:58 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


I've been colder, but DC is definitely in the uncomfortable zone right now; pipes/water mains are bursting and the windchill is fierce.

Of course my brother, who spent most of his adult life operating a hydrovac in WY's red desert, can always one-up me with stories about untreated tires actually shattering during a cold snap.
posted by aspersioncast at 2:03 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Whoa, Mayor West was not kidding about Scituate.
posted by whuppy at 2:13 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


I just want to interject that the second linked article actually does a pretty good job explaining why DC was crippled during that 2016 storm -- the region's general level of snow-preparedness wasn't really a factor.

last year i was in lansing michigan, which is a city that is well prepared for winter weather with experienced drivers - as rush hour started we got less than an inch of snow, which melted immediately on the roads - and then refroze as black ice, city wide

the result was a totally tied up city - it took me an hour in bumper to bumper traffic to get from okemos to lansing rd on the west side of town, going no faster than 10 mph - there were lots of people in the ditch

so even in the best prepared areas the right kind of weather at the right time can totally screw things up
posted by pyramid termite at 2:56 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


It’s so windy that we have spots with no accumulation and some with 2+ feet. Guess which one is in front of my house.

We just spent 3 or 4 person-hours making it possible for my wife to get her stupid car into the stupid driveway when she got home from stupid work.

Still have power, though, and baked a pretty great loaf of bread, so things are pretty okay.
posted by uncleozzy at 2:58 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


driveway

The house on the left has a driveway.

The house on the right has a driveway.

My house doesn't have a driveway. I wish I could park our stupid cars in the stupid driveway.
posted by mikelieman at 3:06 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


After the snow stopped, and I sno-blowered out the driveway, I ventured out to pick up the kid, who I dropped off at a friend's house just as the snow started this morning. Someone had high-centered their Subaru outback trying to drive on the side of the street that wasn't plowed, and a number of neighbors with ATVs and a small front-end loader were arguing the best way to get it free, its wheels spinning uselessly in the air as the driver periodically tried to give it some gas.

Now I've got a similar Outback, and it was fantastic in the slippery stuff today, but there are limits to the miracles of traction Fuji Heavy Industries can perform. Just because it's "AWD" or "4x4" does not mean "Impervious to all adverse driving conditions." If it looks unplowed, creep forward to see if your car can handle it, and be ready to back out before it bogs down. Don't gun the gas and rely on AWD to muscle you through.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:35 PM on January 4 [1 favorite]


Also, please don't think that your 4X4 will stop any better than any other car in snow. It won't.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:09 PM on January 4 [4 favorites]


As someone said, “It’s four wheel drive, not four wheel stop.”
posted by wenestvedt at 8:04 PM on January 4 [3 favorites]


Just because it's "AWD" or "4x4" does not mean "Impervious to all adverse driving conditions."

Indeed. I drove up this snow covered slope (~50°) at 9500 feet thru a stand of aspen, but the ground was frozen so, under the snow was decentish traction. After I did my work at the tower site, the descent was *thrilling* because temps rose a bit and the snowmelt made for a layer of mud. I had to chain up both axles to make it down, and it was a *suggest* not steer drive down that section.

Loved it.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:55 PM on January 4 [2 favorites]


“It’s four wheel drive, not four wheel stop.”

Actually, it is four wheel stop, in that like all other cars, all four wheels have brakes on them.

It's the other half of the statement that needs qualification, since a lot of 4X4s are* actually 2- or 3-wheel drive, depending on how many limited-slip differentials they have. If they don't have any, then one front wheel and one rear wheel will get power.

* I confess that my knowledge of this may be outdated. If all 4X4s now have limited-slip at both ends, I welcome correction, and applaud that progress.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:38 AM on January 5


The main factor is usually that all the 4wd in the world won't make you a better driver.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:34 AM on January 5 [4 favorites]


Thank you, yes. The sentiment is more a warning to overly brave drivers that Having A Truck does not free them from their obligation to the laws of physics.

I just got a small trucklet (a R AV 4) and I don’t pretend that moving to it from a Camry makes me invincible.
posted by wenestvedt at 6:46 AM on January 5 [2 favorites]


As a point of perspective, from a resident of the Upper Midwest, having all the plows in the world does an area no good if there's too much traffic for them to get anywhere needed, let alone move fast enough to plow snow. This explains Chicago.
posted by ZeusHumms at 7:25 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Photos from the Big Picture.
posted by rtha at 8:16 AM on January 5 [3 favorites]


Apparently in winter of 1977 the Mid-Atlantic was cold enough for long enough that people were ice-skating on the Potomac and they had to use icebreakers in the Chesapeake. And back then they didn't even have magical pocket computers that could summon cars!
posted by aspersioncast at 8:33 AM on January 5


so even in the best prepared areas the right kind of weather at the right time can totally screw things up

Yeah, Ma Nature is not impressed at how prepared you *think* are.

Even with our so-called hundred year plans, city planners can seriously underestimate how much damage a heavy storm can do. Whoops, extra runoff and unexpected low temps = more ice than that river can handle! There went your house. We take our infrastructures for granted, and few people realize that they are old or at least middle-aged, and seldom operating under less than optional conditions, given population growth. We're so complacent and don't realize how close we are to tipping over the edge. When things fail, whether it's power outages or transportation disruption, there's a cascading effect, and people can die.

Greedy developers here love to by-pass city planning and build big expensive houses next to the river. Screw the current ecosystem, and hello major devastation, both natural and human, under extreme weather conditions. Stupid people figure their insurance will take care of replacement homes, but the rest of us pay for their selfish-desire to build where they shouldn't.

We need a new city motto here:

Boise, it's a flood plain, people!!!
posted by BlueHorse at 8:52 AM on January 5 [1 favorite]


Okay I did not take a toddler to New York on an airplane yesterday. In fact I took my partner to the airport solo today - it’s worth it to go to in-person interviews at MLA rather than reschedule to do them over skype.

It’s cold in Ohio, but at least the child is asleep in her own bed.
posted by Lawn Beaver at 6:51 PM on January 5


Remember those snowfall measurements are done out at the airports, so for DC, at Reagan in Virginia and for PIT outside of the city proper.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 7:46 PM on January 5


Okay, but National is directly across the Potomac, so like 200 yards outside of the city. PIT is a bit more in the boonies.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:16 PM on January 5 [1 favorite]


It finally warmed up here in DC while we had some rain last night. Normally freezing rain will collect on trees, cars, etc. but the air temperature was above freezing so that didn't happen. However the ground was cold soaked and slow to warm up. I fell on my concrete steps twice despite knowing they would be slippery: not only were they icy, but the ice had a coating of water over it. And I keep thinking that in a few months we'll be back into the paralytic heat and humidity of the horrible five-month-long summers here. Sigh...
posted by exogenous at 4:58 AM on January 9


It is above freeing today for the 1st time in 2 weeks. whooppee!
posted by theora55 at 12:53 PM on January 9


above freezing.
posted by theora55 at 5:44 PM on January 9


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