Before the Storm -- 02/16/03

There's a storm heading this way.

I knew about it before I listened to any weather forecast. I knew about it as soon as I pulled into the Wakefield Mall today and saw that Shaws Supermarket parking lot was packed with cars. That was confirmed when I entered the store and saw the long lines of shoppers backed up from the checkout counter.

Rhode Islanders have a simple Pavlovian response to any forecast of snow; they rush to the store to buy milk and bread. This syndrome apparently dates back to the Blizzard of '78 -- Twenty-five years ago the entire state was buried heavy snow, snow that for some reason nobody seemed to anticipate, even though it had been in the weather forecast. The storm began in the morning and by early afternoon enough snow had fallen that most businesses closed early -- but many drivers got stuck on main roads and highways, even on I-95, so many that tow trucks could not keep up with them, so many that the roads were blocked, so many that people gave up and abandoned their cars and walked off in search of shelter (restaurants, bars, even department stores became impromptu shelters from the storm) -- and then the plows could not clear the highways because of the hundreds of abandoned cars. Essentially, much of the state was lost for three days. (At URI some enterprising students went through the dorms taking orders for booze -- legal drinking age was 18 in R.I. back then -- one group said that the only reason their car was able to make it back to campus through the storm was due to the weight of all the beer they had bought -- and the dorm residents settled in to party through the storm.)

Our front yard in early afternoon, leftover snow from last week.

Sunday afternoon temperature is 13°F (around ten or eleven below zero C).
"Before the Storm"

When I got home I turned on The Weather Channel and, sure enough, there is a winter storm moving our way, one they have named "The Presidents' Day Storm." I had already decided that I was going to take a vacation day tomorrow and also on Friday. The Monday vacation day is because I'm tired and I want to spend some time with Nancy (this will be Winter Break for the school system so she has the week off) and the Friday vacation day is so we can go to the Providence Flower Show.

After spending the week in Las Vegas (got home around midnight Friday night) I had to adjust to not just the three hour time zone difference, but a 45 to 50 degree temperature difference. However, the couple just in front of me in line at the supermarket checkout had returned from a Caribbean vacation last night, so they had a much greater weather adjustment to make.

Philadelphia and Washington are really getting lots of snow dumped on them this afternoon. It will be interesting to see how much snow the storm will bring to us on Monday and Tuesday.

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