My trusty navigator and I took a drive last weekend, to Cincinnati, my son and the Cincinnati Bengals. Our drive took us across miles of unseasonably barren farmland virtually devoid of snow.
I’ve been making the trip for decades. I don’t recall any year in mid-February when there was so much brown ground.
A week before, the Queen City was blanketed with, according to our son, six inches of sleet that turned to ice, and three inches of snow to top it off. When we arrived, the storm was mere memory.
I well remember the winter of 1976-77. I had returned with my family from a U.S. Navy assignment in Alaska, and I had ordered a new Dodge van, to be delivered at a dealership in Detroit.
I don’t remember why the truck was not ready. I spent a month’s vacation waiting at Mom’s home in Maine until finally came the call. My son and I boarded a Greyhound bus in Lewiston, Maine, and headed west – to Buffalo, NY, where we met a blizzard blowing off Lake Erie. All the roads were closed. We slept in the bus station.
In the morning, we were informed the interstates were still closed but airplanes had restarted flying. In Detroit, we climbed in the new truck and headed south to Cincinnati, where Mom and daughter waited. The southbound interstate was open, barely. What I remember most were the tops of big rigs being the only visible portions in the drifts. A state police officer I talked with said few trucks had tipped over; most simply drove off the pavement in the blinding storm and were buried.
Admittedly, that was only one storm system, but that also was a time when “lake effect snow” was an oft heard phrase and always meant Pennsylvania and New York were being buried in snow.
Nothing like that for several years. Where I live in Pennsylvania caught heck in 1993, and a three-day storm in 2010 slowed people down some. Lately, though, meteorologists seem to have given up on becoming excited about how much snow will fall. Instead, they resort to telling us how many people will be “impacted.” If you can not measure more snow, at least report more people in its way.
We returned home Monday night to our friendly TV weatherman reporting snowfall for the Susquehanna Valley at 12.6 inches for the season. The average seasonal snowfall is 19.5 inches. If Punxatawney Phil is correct, we have less than 6 weeks to pile up another seven inches of the white stuff. With temperatures the coming week forecast well above 40 degrees F, it’s not looking good.
We are not alone in the snow shortage category. When the cameras are showing us events of the Beijing Olympics, one could get the idea there is plenty of snow in China’s mountains. Draw back for a wider shot, however, and notice there is virtually no snow that is not on the ski jumps. Otherwise, the mountains are brown – like the farm fields in Ohio, or the hills of Adams County, Pennsylvania. A few days ago, the only snow on the nearby Liberty Valley ski resort was mechanically made and on the ski paths.
No rain fell on Beijing from late October to middle March, reportedly the longest drought in that region’s history. Even 100 miles from Beijing, where most of the “snow” competition is taking place, average annual snowfall is less than an inch. Ski jumps and other Olympic features are on snow made from water guided from sources 1,400 miles away. Water is becoming increasingly problematic worldwide. Warning signs are all around.
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