I finally ventured out of the apartment today. I saw people. I interacted with some of them- interesting species. Hit the Safeway supermarket at 5th and K. Not very many humans there, however. But the cashier was really, really nice. Positive attitude, all smiles and light banter. She packed my five-cent plastic bags strategically after asking me if I was walking or driving (DC now charges for plastic if you don’t come in with your own hip canvass bags).
Clearly, no one likes potato bread. That’s about all that’s left. This is a brand new supermarket in my neighborhood so they do that thing at the produce department where you hear fake thunder and automated sprinklers spritz the vegetables every 20 seconds. Wasn’t working. Not worth the effort for the few of us scavengers who were there this afternoon. Or not worth the water to spray week-old wilted lettuce.
By the way, does anyone know the name of my Safeway? Does it even have a name yet? Here in D.C., all the Safeway supermarkets have nicknames that suit their surrounding neighborhoods. The one in Georgetown is called “Social Safeway.” The one in my old Northeast neighborhood near RFK stadium where I last lived here in DC, is “Scary Safeway.” Today, I would have to call my new grocery store, “Sad Safeway.”
The 8-block round-trip walk to Sad Safeway was challenging but much easier than, say, climbing Mt. McKinley. The sidewalks are basically packed snow. There’s a lot of standing water at intersections now because of all the snow-dams that are being created by the plow-piles. Wow. Plow-piles. Not only is that not a word, but it’s non-word I never even imagined I’d be using two weeks ago.
There have been a few cars parked in front of my building since last week. Today, I saw the two competing approaches to dealing with snowed-in, blizzard-covered motorized vehicles. One guy obviously took ownership of the situation and was out there shoveling his little heart out, clearing his path of exit. Directly across the street is a car that has not been touched. It is submerged. Its owner, I imagine, is in denial. Or hoping that now that it’s nearly 40 degrees, Mother Nature will take care of it all.
Nanook is back in his cave now. Tomorrow- a real adventure: Bed, Bath and Beyond.
What I am seeing outside my window in Washington, D.C. right now is not normal. Something is just not right about two blizzards in one week. I don’t think it’s chance or random. I think we’re seeing the effects of global climate change.
Yes, I know, a lot of people see record snow amounts and scoff at global “warming” theories. But it’s not as simple as “oh it’s cold and snowy, therefore global warming does not exist.”
See the map up top? That’s a recent temperature change analysis of the planet that came out two days ago. Accu-weather writes about it here. We are in the swath of the blue that is cooler. The rest of the globe is warming. Check out Canada. Did you know they’re having to truck in snow to Vancouver for the Winter Games that start this week?
It is indisputable fact that the ice cover at the North Pole has been significantly reduced. There are satellite photos of it. See here. When the ice melts, where does that moisture go? Into the atmosphere. What feeds storms? Moisture. Global warming does not suddenly repeal the seasons. Winters are still winters. But with more moisture in the air, storms get fed, and I theorize, create things like the unprecedented ferocity and number of blizzards we’re seeing right now.
Forget the politics of all this. I don’t know if humans have caused this to happen. This could very well be cyclical. We’ve had dozens of ice ages and warming trends over millions and millions of years. This could be another one of them. I don’t even know if there’s anything we can do about it or, given the current state of the global economy, can even afford to.
But as the winds blow at 40 mph and snow drifts of three, four and five feet start building across the mid-Atlantic states; as I see white-out conditions below the Mason-Dixon line and meteorologists beside themselves watching something that’s never been seen in recorded history, it sure makes me wonder what’s really going on.
Having just returned by Amtrak from New York this afternoon, I got an interesting view of the snow-bomb that hit the mid-Atlantic region Friday and Saturday. This was such a strange storm because New York and northern New Jersey got zero accumulations and Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, of course, got annihilated.
So I got my seat on the right side of the train and watched for the line of demarcation. Keep in mind, this is two days removed from the storm. But you started seeing snow at approximately New Brunswick, New Jersey. Maybe 3 to 4 inches from what I could see. By the time we got to Trenton there were about six inches.
Then we hit Bucks County north of Philadelphia and you could see that, easily, a foot or more had fallen. I was looking for snow-covered roofs and buried cars and the Philly area was really not that bad in that regard.
I did notice a clever little billboard that I think Delta put up just north of Philadelphia that read, “You’d be there now if you were on the air shuttle.” Not this week. If you had tried to take the air shuttle to DC on Friday, you would have spent three days sleeping at the Marine terminal at La Guardia. Amtrak, on the other hand, reinstituted full Acela service today. Plus, Bill Cosby was on my train. Hey, hey, hey.
But past Wilmington, as we got into Maryland, you could see what this storm did- in all its glory. Elkton, Maryland looked like a scene from Barrow, Alaska. As we approached Baltimore, you could get more perspective as you saw the height of the snow against the streets that had been plowed. More and more completely snow-submerged vehicles came into view. The heavy snow on rooftops was becoming increasingly evident.
There are a lot of woods between Baltimore and Washington and the scenes were breathtaking. Trees were dotted with piles of snow teetering on the branches making them look like forests dotted with thousands and thousands of 50-pound cotton balls. Creeks were swollen with snow that had begun to melt in Monday’s sunshine.
Amtrak train #2153, packed to the gills with passengers, finally pulled slowly into Union station. At the last moment back at Penn Station in New York, Amtrak decided to honor all Acela tickets and let on additional passengers- it was literally, standing-room only. We all poured off and I watched the taxi line grow. I know better than to take a DC cab when the city is in a snow emergency. They’ll stick you for a $50 fare for a $10 ride and take great pride in it.
So I trudged on to the Metro, still running only subterreanean trains. The tracks that usually head toward Glenmont were the only side of the rails in use and the direction was reversed, heading only downtown and onto the new end of the Red line- Medical Center. The subway train sat at the Union Station platform for about 25 minutes before heading slowly-very slowly toward Judiciary Square. When we hit my stop, Chinatown/Galley Place, there must have been a thousand people waiting to board. It looked like something out of Tokyo where they use poles to push passengers into the trains. Folks looked distinctly disoriented. Like everything had turned alien and totally different, which it had.
The two-block walk back to the apartment with luggage was better than I expected. All but a small portion of the sidewalks had been cleaned except for the intersection of 6th and H streets where I stood knee-deep waiting for the light to change.
The power had obviously gone off in my building, but thanks to a surge protector, my desk top came back to life. And now we await tomorrow’s, hopefully, final bout of winter weather. It will be nothing compared to the weekend. Just the same and excuse the bad grammar- but I ain’t going nowhere!
I was scheduled to head back up to New York for the weekend anyway and, if all works out, the 11am Acela should be going approximately 100 mph faster than the snow storm of the century. I think I’ll see some of it in Gotham on Saturday, but only three inches or so according to the Weather Channel.
But good luck to everybody in the nation’s capital! It’s going to be a truly historic storm by any standard. You’ll get your five inches by the end of the afternoon and than another 10-15 overnight through all of Saturday. If DC gets 20 inches it will be only the third time ever. Counting Philadelphia and Baltimore and 10 million people are going to get clobbered by this thing.
I got in a fairly long line at the Chinatown CVS store last night to buy some computer paper and some picture hangars and saw one guy with 10 rolls of toilet paper. The bread was almost out. A nice delivery guy from Safeway dropped off my groceries Wednesday and told me one lady had ordered a dozen cases of bottled water ahead of the storm. What is it about scary snow storms that cause people to buy so much toilet paper, bread and water anyway? I know the plows don’t hit all the streets but surely by Monday, rescue teams will probably be getting to you, don’t you think?
Of course this storm is a little different because it comes over the two days leading up to the Super Bowl. I think, therefore, that it would make a lot more sense to be stocking up on nachos, Buffalo wings and beer.
And here’s a drinking game you can play. Tune into your local TV news and take a shot or a swig every time you see a reporter doing a stand-up in front of a salt pile. If you use the remote fast enough around 6pm tonight you may end up doing 5 or 6 shots within about three minutes. You can repeat this exercise again at 11pm.
If any of my DC buds need any supplies Monday, give me a call over the weekend, and we’ll get ‘em to you by mid-afternoon or so. Good luck, people.