Carol Jane Remsburg
Thursday, February 23rd, 2001 was an odd day in every aspect. Normally the weather freak I am noses out any type of pending storm via multiple internet sites, NOAA weather radio, and The Weather Channel. I don't know where my head was, but I hadn't checked anything over the last week and had only heard from others on Wednesday afternoon about this "big" storm that was coming—full of snow and spit to rain down upon our little Delmarva. The minute I heard "big" storm I immediately discounted it. It's such a rare occurrence that it's laughable.
Normally when a "big one" comes, it's under the guise of "possible flurries."
However, this time it was almost true—it turned out to be truer than the forecasters said.
It was an odd day in all aspects other than work, February's are always slow and this was slower than most—likely because the western half of the state was already being pelted with snow and they had other concerns at the moment rather than calling me up. A co-worker was opting for a short day and requested it. She got it and leered at me—actually taunting me to try. I rarely do but by that time the next county had already closed schools and it wasn't even snowing here yet. Hmm, I thought. If I can take this ½ day without pay and not get beat up over it as an "unexcused day" I might as well because if Dorchester County schools are closing at noon, then my county, Wicomico will close by 1 PM and then I'd be in trouble. I opted and got it. I nearly fainted because that never happens—just another odd occurrence for an already odd day.
I skipped out of the building like a prisoner with an unexpected pardon. My friend and I giggled and laughed as we rushed to our cars.
The sky was a lead gray, weighted with promise and it told me so when I stopped laughing long enough to look skyward. Then I stopped laughing. It didn't take an experienced eye to know that something wicked this way was coming—and it wasn't long in arriving.
I told my friend and coworker, Judi, that I was going to pick up my daughter, Erin, from school early and just go home and await whatever was coming. And that's what I did. It's a 10-15 minute ride home depending on traffic—eastward so I felt I was running away from the storm. The school is only about 1 ½ miles west of home. I stopped and went in the office—they had no clue as to when "they" would be closing but all were nervous over the coming storm that hadn't even arrived yet. It took a few moments for Erin to pack her things and find me in the school office. She was confused. I never do this and she didn't know the forecast and apparently most of the other kids didn't either because it wasn't on the "all-kids-school-network" of current info.
Into the car we went and the ride home was short—remember it's only a mile and a half. The car was off and the stroll to the mailbox was shorter still—that's when the first spit of snow began.
Once inside, I was glued to the Weather Channel, both my Internet radar sites, but mostly to my windows. What I'd gleaned was that this fast-moving storm that would dump a whole lot of snow in just a little bit of time. How much was the question.
The two local TV stations were stating we'd get between 2-4 inches—not bad. The upper shore was in for 3-6 inches. Hey, when you live in a land that doesn't get much snow—this is big news! However, there was nothing about a 2-4 inch episode here and I'm not such a neophyte that I didn't know it.
The snow spitting lasted about 10-15 minutes before the real snow began to fall—and it fell. Consider the day before it had been 55o and simply spring-like enough to have my child racing about the backyard before dark. Once the snow began in earnest—the road, the grass, and everything else was covered in 10 minutes. Just trying to see your neighbor's house became a fog. If this were to continue for hours on end then we were in for it. Even the projections of a few hours were enough to see a significant snowfall.
My kid was like any other, she bundled herself up and out into the snow she went dancing, frolicking, and generally reveling in it—for all of about 15 minutes. It was cold out there. She didn't last long and I wasn't in the mood to join her. I much preferred to view it all from indoors while waiting by the phone to hear all my loved ones would be home safe and secure. Hubby also opted out early and came home by nearly 4 PM-- another worry over.
Then, just before hubby came home, an anomaly occurred, a rare one. There was thunder—a loud, rolling, rumbling thunder. My daughter just in and warming herself upstairs in front on the television didn't hear it but I did. I was outside on the porch in a flash. It continued to roll. No jet was this, it was thunder. How odd. I was back on the phone to my sister, Melody, in Florida who was green with envy over the snow—and now the thundering snow.
I'd only heard it once before when we had a snowstorm, well before Erin's birth, about 14 years ago. It too had been in February, a freak snowstorm but one all of us were ready for—we had less snow that time, but I had surprise visitors than afternoon—a Saturday. Two guinea hens showed up out of nowhere. My other sister, Betsy, and I raced outside in the snow and thunder to try to catch them. I still don't recall our objective if we caught them and we never did—but it was a silly scream to do so. Here we were, two adult women running around in a snowstorm with thunder present when we learned that guinea hens can actually fly.
We laughed until we nearly cried and then we returned to the warmth and shelter of the house as dinner was nearly done. Now so many years later . . .
Dinner was prepared and served—still the snow fell. More thunder and my attention never wavered. This time I didn't go out rushing into the coming dark and the heavy snow.
Within hours it was over—we ended up with seven inches of unexpected snow by my account. Remember, I hadn't a clue it was coming until I left work—but by then it was a "collect the child and run for cover" type of situation. Even now with all our radar and advance warnings, we never know what's going to happen—and if we don't pay attention—by guess is that we'll know just that much less.
Meanwhile, if a freak February snowstorm falls on you, try to enjoy it once you make it home. It's a treat to hear thunder amid the snow; eerie, lonely, but oh, so cool!