Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Chronicle of a weather event

February 18, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 18, 2016

Sunday, Feb. 14, 9:58 p.m.: I walked to my car in the cold, taking an extremely roundabout route in an effort to reach my goal of 10,000 steps per day. I wound up going just shy of 0.8 miles in 13 minutes and 50 seconds.

10:12 p.m.: I returned to my car. Since my gas tank was near empty, I opened up the Gas Guru app on my smartphone and scoped out stations with low prices. I settled on one in Durham near where I used to live, not too far from my current residence.

I started driving back to Durham from a joint on the southeast side of Cary, sandwiched between Apex and southwest Raleigh. The weather was clear, with no sign of precipitation, although snow was forecast for early Monday morning.

10:50 p.m.: I pulled off of N.C. 147, a.k.a. the Durham Freeway, at the Hillandale Road exit. I vaguely noticed that the streets were wet. I navigated my way onto Hillsborough Road and went to the gas station I’d chosen. Not only was it not open at this time of day, I suspected that it wouldn’t be open at any time of day.

Also relevant: The ground around the pumps was covered by snow. The coating was so thin that the snow would disappear beneath the impact of a human footfall. There had been a light flurry in Durham, not rain, as I’d initially thought; the streets appeared to be wet because they were wet — dampened by snow that had evaporated under passing car tires.

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From spring to winter and back again: Wild weather swings over the last few months

March 2, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
March 2, 2014

Today, residents of North Carolina’s Piedmont enjoyed a beautiful spring day. The skies were clear, the sun was out and the mercury rose into the high 60s.

Today is Sunday, March 2, 2014.

Tomorrow, the high will be in the mid-50s. (These temperatures are all Fahrenheit, natch.) It’s going to be about 56 degrees around midnight. The temperature’s expected to drop below 40 degrees before 10 a.m. By 1 p.m. on Monday, March 3, 2014, the forecast for Durham, N.C., calls for 29 degrees with a 100 percent chance of precipitation — most likely sleet.

The sleet (traces of rain and snow may also come) should taper off by sunset, around 6:12 p.m. The temperature, however, will keep on declining. It could bottom out at around 15 degrees by the time Monday rolls into Tuesday.

But this isn’t the first time this has happened in recent months. In fact, this will be at least the third time since early December that North Carolina has experienced a wild change in temperatures and weather conditions.

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Snow problem: It’s not if people don’t get on the roads at the same time they’re being converted into ice rinks

February 15, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 15, 2014

On Friday, I wrote about my (very modest) snow-day misadventures. But I wanted to write a bit about the much more significant troubles that the South, and in particular my corner of it, have handling snow.

In Durham, North Carolina, a lot of area businesses and schools seemed to close around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. This appeared a bit silly to me at the time, but it turned out to be a great call. As previously noted, the snow started around a quarter to 1 that afternoon, and visibility and road conditions deteriorated very quickly.

So what happens when snow starts during business hours? Typically, lots of people jump on the roads to go home — the same roads that have suddenly become unsafe to travel, the same roads that are not scaled to handle virtually everyone traveling on them at the same time, and the same roads that, in most of the South, there are very few snowplows to clear.

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Snowed in: A short, inconsequential comedy of errors

February 14, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Feb. 14, 2014

I looked out a window around a quarter to 1 on Wednesday and saw the first few flakes drifting down onto Durham, North Carolina.

I packed up my computer and put away my teapot and tea cup and headed out of the coffee shop and into the cold gray afternoon. This snow, I quickly realized, was no joke; in the space of about five minutes, it had gone from nothing to a very heavy fall.

I’d known a snowstorm was coming, of course; everyone did. I was pretty well stocked with food and supplies at home, but I wanted a few more things, so I drove to a grocery store.

The place was pretty crowded — although I didn’t appreciate just how crowded until I brought my fruit, soy/coconut milk mixture (a first-time and last-time purchase) and pasta sauce to the checkout lanes. Every lane was staffed, and every one had a queue. Fortunately, the express line moved pretty quickly.

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