October 29th, 3:00 PM.
Yes, home at last to track a storm from my couch! I just finished a ten hour workday and was settling in for a night of storm tracking. It’s so rare for me to be home to actually enjoy a snow storm. Yes, I realize how ridiculous that must sound to some of you. But while I’m at work on storm coverage, I’m stressed out. I am constantly hitting the refresh button checking for the latest storm damage, accumulations, radar imagery, new computer model data, updating the forecast, broadcasting updates, making weather graphics and updating my colleagues in the field. It’s non stop.
While I’m home, I’m still technically working. I still do all the stuff I just mentioned, but I have more time to digest everything. It’s no longer a race. I am no longer confined to a dark TV studio. I get to look out the window. I am finally reminded by the reason I got into this job…because I love the weather. It never fails to surprise me. An October nor’easter? I’m excited to witness such a rare and historic event.
4:00 PM Thundersnow!
With a large pressure drop accompanying the storm and strong upward motion, the atmosphere was very unstable. Think of it like a winter thunderstorm. I hear other sounds too. Every few minutes I hear the cracking sound of nearby trees struggling to hold the weight of the heavy snow. This wet snow has a low snow to liquid ratio. That means it holds more water than the white fluffy powder that skiers dream about. The more water the snow holds, the heavier it is. And this snow is about the heaviest I’ve ever seen.
So I’m about to hit “publish” on a blog post about power outages and the dangers of driving while snow iced trees fall like missles. 260,000 were without power and the storm wasn’t over. Not even close. Then it happened. MY power went out. NO! Well at least I have a laptop. Wait a minute…I quickly checked and refreshed my internet connection as if it somehow worked on batteries. Turns out it didn’t. This reminded me of a Twilight Zone episode. A librarian survives a nuclear attack with millions of books, then he breaks his glasses leaving him unable to read.
I grabbed my blackberry. One battery bar left. How could I be so stupid? Here I am telling people for days to prepare for power outages and I haven’t done a thing. I pulled up the radar. It took nearly a minute to load. Why didn’t I get an iPhone? I tried my usual weather sites but they weren’t compatible on my phone which was about to die.
I called Geoff Fox. “What do I do?” I know I sounded desperate. I could tell he felt bad for me. “You can come to work and play with your friends,” Geoff suggested. “Do you want me to pick you up? You really should stay home, it’s dangerous outside.” I looked up at the blog post I never got to publish, warning people to stay home. He was right. Now what? I ran down to my car to charge my phone then lit about 30 tea light candles. It was a romantic evening with me and the boys…my two cats and turtle. As the heat seeped out through the cracks in the windows, I curled up into a ball with my heaviest blanket and a book on ipad. Well, I guess I got my wish. I was able to enjoy a snow storm without working. But it turns out…I wished I was at work the entire time.