Ebenezer Scrooge sure got his wish this past weekend. Many snow lovers on the East Coast didn’t get the lighter White Christmas they hoped for on Saturday. Instead, it fell heavy on Sunday, causing countless travel and event disruptions and delays.
The major exception was here in the Washington area, where the dusting to a half-inch we got seemed so surreal after watching the news. If there is such a thing as “snow survival guilt,” some Washingtonians have had it this week. Sure it was cold and windy on Monday, but the sun came out and by noon, the dusting was gone.
Unfortunately, many folks in the Northeast had to endure nightmare problems. To them, we hope for a speedy recovery. Washingtonians remember last year’s sore backs and frayed nerves.
For snow lovers in and around the nation’s capital, Sunday brought nothing but frustration. On radar, it looked like some hidden force field was blocking the snow from entering Northern Virginia, DC and the Maryland suburbs. A map provided by NASA and CWG would reveal the dramatic difference. The snow's no-show was dubbed "No-mageddon" by CWG reader Walter in Falls Church.
The day culminated one of the most topsy-turvy snow trackings in recorded history. As winter storms go, the path of the one skirting up the East Coast on Sunday was one of the hardest to predict in recent memory. Even as the oblong-shaped mass of precip approached the Mid-Atlantic, the experts at the Capital Weather Gang and the NWS in Sterling, Virginia, were confounded by the system. Snow lovers here were holding their breathe. “Snowmaggedon” had spoiled us rotten.
Advanced technology and super-computing have changed the weather business. My father and mother never heard of a seven-day forecast. But now, if you so desire, you can hop on sites like the Capital Weather Gang and gaze into their crystal ball a week or more ahead of time. If Joe Bastardi trips your trigger, he can tell when it’s going to snow weeks in advance. Meteorologists monitor potential storms even before they have formed.
Early last week, East Coast snow lovers were on full alert. The storm had dumped excessive rain on California and parts of the Southwest before heading to the heartland mid-week. After being promised it could produce some snow, possibly a lot, snow lovers were given the bad news on Thursday. It appeared the low pressure would track more to the east, thus giving Washington a brushing at best.
Reading that, a few posters at CWG lashed out at the forecasting team, accusing them of hyping the snow. But on Saturday morning, here came the Calvary. New models put the track closer to the coast, bringing a 70% chance of accumulation. Snow lovers rejoiced.
Predicting weather has gotten better over the years. We tend to forget, but forecasters nail many of the snow totals and timing. But as we saw this past weekend, weather can be as mysterious as ever.