Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Snow Memories On The Doorstep Of Another Storm.....

If you know me, you know I am, and have been many things. In my latest incarnation, I'm known as the "sports guy". But I'm also a weather buff. I've always been fascinated by it. So, without some classmates knowing it, in 1980 in the eighth grade at then-Liberty Junior High School, after I finished my first oral project presentation in French class, I was dubbed "Weatherman", thanks to my delivery.

I've spent 48 of my now 49 winters here in the Richmond area, missing the Winter of 1985-1986 in Massachusetts. I can remember some pretty crazy storms, a few of which have been referenced in social media and on TV in the days leading up to our latest winter "event". My most vivid memories?

February 10-11, 1983: 17 inches in 24 hours. A very simple, but potent storm that hit on a Thursday night as, on my black and white television, I watched Michael Jordan and then #1 North Carolina defeated Virginia 64-63 in an absolute classic. I went to bed, woke up, and watched the snow. We didn't return to school (I was a sophomore at Patrick Henry at the time) until the following Wednesday.

January 19-20, 1985: Super Bowl Storm I: The snow was heavy, but the real story was the cold temperatures and wind. It was absolutely brutal. I watched Joe Montana and the 49ers capture their second Lombardi, beating Dan Marino and the Dolphins, with temperatures outside in the single digits, forcing Ronald Reagan's Second Inauguration inside the following day two hours north.

January, 1987: Back-To-Back/Super Bowl Storm II. Nobody has referenced this event. We had two rather significant storms within about five days of each other. I had only been home from Massachusetts for three weeks, trying to regroup after my college closed. I watched Phil Simms and the Giants win Super Bowl XXI with a deluge outside my parents' East End apartment.

January 6-8, 1996: The Blizzard of '96: Everyone who lived through it remembers it well. A 36-hour nightmare. My three-hour newspaper route (yes, I delivered the Times-Dispatch for 14 years) became a 9 1/2 hour odyssey that included Good Samaritan customers letting me sit by their fireplace so my socks could dry out, getting my wife's uncle to come with his Jeep after HE finished HIS paper route, pulling me out so my wife could drive the car home while he and I finished MY route in the Jeep. That night? My wife and then three-year old son got violently ill. I also had three disc jockeys at the two radio stations I oversaw in Chester, stuck there because no one could get there, or get them out. There was nothing positive about this storm.

January 20--30, 2000: Back-To-Back II/Super Bowl Ice Storm: The last third of this month was one big hit after another. I had just begun my job at WRVA, still located on Church Hill. Try going up the Hill on Broad trying to get to 22nd in a major snowstorm. I remember one light turned yellow on me, and I just started blowing the horn of my van to let the world know "I AM RUNNING THIS RED LIGHT. SORRY!". But I made it there, and home, through two snows and, then, the Super Bowl 34 Ice Storm on a Sunday afternoon. Rams 23, Titans 16. Oh, and we got stuck in North Carolina on a Sunday night in the midst of all this.

Since then, we've had some near misses and close calls (President's Day Weekend 2003 comes to mind), and historically, Richmond is almost ALWAYS "on the line". I've never actually seen this magical, mystical "line", but it always defines our storms as to whether it's gonna be snow, sleet, freezing rain, just rain, or some crazy combination. We've had several storms with over a foot (or well over in some places in the RVA) that weren't "officially" one foot storms because they didn't get 12 inches at the airport, which is east of town, and therefore, in the zone where the mixing (or just the rain) seems to always show up.

I didn't even bring up 1977, 1980, the ice storms of 1994 and Christmas 1998, Rachel's "surprise" first March storm (that she remembered) in 2009, and the early and late storms of 2010, and the annoying storms of the last two winters.

I don't know if we'll "hit the jackpot" in the next 48 hours or not. As usual, one place will get six inches, and, 30 miles west of it, there will be 18 inches. No surprise. That's Central Virginia. Always has been, always will be.

So, to my Twitter friends, enjoy the time off (but study for exams!!) and soak it all in. This might be the storm you tell your kids about in 2040.  :) :)

Harry and I say: Stay Safe!

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