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August 14, 2005

The Blizzard of 2005

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin -- I became obsessed with the big January snowstorm. The Weather Channel had little snowflakes floating down from a high billowy cloud for Saturday and Sunday, 10 days before, and I was determined to track the rise and fall of the imminent demise of Frederick County.

A storm from the Pacific was supposed to crash into Seattle, move into Canada, swing south into Minnesota dive into Virginia and then die. Another storm was to form off the coast, somewhere between a Carolina and Jersey. This storm was to throw snow by the fistful back onto Frederick. The whole mess was then going to race up the East Coast strike Newfoundland and then out to sea. I guess London was next. Meanwhile, bitter cold air was to surge south from Santa Claus land ensuring temperatures in the teens during the day and near zero at night

I went on line to follow the weather on the free web site "AccuWeather." I looked everywhere for the seeds of this storm but to no avail. I checked the Pacific Ocean.


Frustrated, I subscribed to their premium service for about $4 a month.

Still nothing.

The web site began screaming disaster but they also issued a disclaimer stating only one in 10 of the forecasts of this type of storm were accurate.

Using my newfound web mate, I continued to search the Pacific and Canada for the birth of this monster. The movie "The Perfect Storm" was viewed four times to psyche me up. Day after day I checked the radar in Hawaii and Manitoba seeking the seeds of this great event.


I watched an Alberta Clipper come out of nowhere and dust the area before being swallowed by the Atlantic.

Then, all of a sudden, like a poltergeist, the radar displayed a small area of snow along the Minnesota-Canadian border. Where it came from and how it got there will be a mystery that will plague me for the rest of my life. The area of snow grew like a hideous blob with veins of pink indicating ice, and stomach green showing rain. Like in one in of those old movies, it spread out through out the refrigerator states and began to ooze south and then east.

Meanwhile, like the fool on South Mountain, I went grocery shopping early Friday morning, usually the best time because the stores are fully stocked for the weekend spree. They were crowded as the radio and newspapers hyped the end of the world. Every pick-up truck had a snow blade attached with visions of time and a half and double time dancing in their heads as the storm was to consume us on a weekend.

Saturday morning brought the first day of Armageddon, and nary a flake. Birds were flying around and not lining the telephone and cable wires ala Alfred Hitchcock, as portent of the disaster to come. We should have listened to the birds.

Finally, at 7:38 A.M. in Middletown, the first white specs began to fall. The temperature was 18 degrees Fahrenheit, or, for you science types, minus 7.8 Celsius. I don't remember how to do Kelvin.

I set my four barometers. They all measure a different pressure at the same time, to gauge the intensity of the storm. The lower the pressure the more of a wallop the storm would produce. They never made it past the "change" part on the dial.

The AccuWeather radar on Wallops Island, off the Virginia coast just south of Ocean City, was set to monitor any off shore developments. I toyed with the idea of up grading my AccuWeather account to "Professional" for $9.95, but I had more than enough information including the methane rain amounts on Titan.

After lunch and a reading of the Book of Revelation, I fell asleep on the couch. I awoke at 2:30 P.M., and the snow had stopped. Checking the sophisticated program, I learned it was over with no more snow on the horizon, over the mountains into the woods or at grandma's house. The storm of century dumped a little more than three inches and this blizzard of 2005 became history.

So did my AccuWeather program - as I dumped it from my computer.

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