Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Blizzard 2016 Life in a Snow Globe

Blizzard 2016 Life in a Snow Globe

The calm before the storm.  1/21/16.
We survived the great Blizzard of 2016!  I think we should get a t-shirt.  There were record snowfalls all over the Eastern portion of the United States.  And not much for the folks who really wanted it up in New England.  Better luck next time, as we would have been happy to share some of ours with you.

The weather folks said we would be getting more than a bit of snow, for over a week, before the first blizzard of 2016 hit.  The forecasts stayed pretty consistent with only a few wavers.  One of the biggest questions was how much and how big of an area it would cover.  I can tell you it did hit Martinsburg, WV!

Morning.  1/22/16. 
January 22, 2016
There was a really cool sunrise on Friday.  It was quite red and made me think of “Red sky at night, sailors' delight.  Red sky at morning, sailors take warning”. The snow started falling about 1 P.M. on Friday.  First it was just flurries, but the flakes grew larger.  It was not falling too thick the first day.  We had stocked up on supplies to get us through and hunkered down to see what was in store.   I was fortunate that the storm coincided with my days off.

Sunrise.  1/22/16.
The common phrase "Red sky at morning" is a line from an ancient rhyme often repeated by mariners.

“Red sky at night, sailors' delight.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning.”
Another version replaces sailors with shepherds.

When it is evening, you say, "It will be fair weather; for the sky is red."
And in the morning, "It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening."  Matthew 16:2b–3

Sunrise.  1/22/16.
“This old saying actually has a scientific explanation. It relates to moving high and low surface-pressure weather systems, and the way that the colors in sunlight are scattered differently by dirty and clean atmospheres.” Check out this link for more information.

Sunrise.  1/22/16.
Snow flurries begin. 1/22/16.
Larger flakes falling. 1/22/16.

By sunset about 4.5” of snow had stuck to the ground.  Not too crazy for the first day, but all the reports were saying the majority of the snow would fall overnight and on Saturday.  We did venture out on the third floor deck and out the front, and rear, of our building to see the progress.  I did hear that although it can snow at many temperatures, 80% of the snow falls when the temp is between 24 and 32 degrees.

4.5 inches. 1/22/16.
January 23, 2016
Morning shot. 1/23/16.
11:00 A.M. 1/23/16.
Saturday morning found us admiring a good amount of snow on the ground.  It had obviously been snowing throughout the night.  We watched the updates on television and the Internet as the snowfall grew.  The wind had increased and made the area look like we were living in a snow globe.  The national news said the storm should clear up for us by midnight.  Glad to still have power because there were reports of outages.  Also glad to miss the flooding of the eastern coastline areas.  As the storm moved north we heard New York City has issued a travel ban.  Ticketing and arrests to be made if they caught you out driving.  We basically hunkered down, though continued outside checks of deck and building areas throughout the storm.  The snow seemed to stop in our area right around 7 P.M. making for about 30 hours of snow.  My last check of the snow level read 36”.  I measured in four different areas that were undisturbed and averaged out the total.  We heard that Glengary, WV was the big winner with 42” of snow!  It is about 15 miles west of us.  Martinsburg, WV had reports of 30-34” of snow, so my unofficial amount did not seem out of line.

This was over us for hours and made for heavy snowfall.
5:00 P.M. 1/23/16.
January 24, 2016

The sun came out on Sunday, the skies were blue and the temp climbed to about 35.  We headed out late morn to check things out and see how the vehicles looked.  The parking lot was a busy place with folks digging cars out.  Whodathunk we should've bought a snow shovel.  We borrowed one that morn to dig a path for the Jeep so TC could get out.  The location that we usually park was in the line of the wind, so the cars in our row were "brushed clean" of snow on the roofs and hoods.  That was a wonderful thing to see.  The drive area of the lot had been cleared relatively well, but what do you do with three feet of snow?

This is a tree, not a bush!
Later that afternoon, Jo headed out for a walk to check out the main drag.  Didn't get that far because the plow had blocked the Jeep in again with a pile of snow.  So she began clearing with her feet and hands, and a kind gal let her use her shovel to make a dent.  When TC came out a bit later, he relieved her shoveling of her car to help her dig out, so that was a good thanks for sharing her shovel.  Another gal came down and helped clear some of the bank near the Jeep for easier access.  Did I say... what does one do with three feet of snow?!  That night was forecast for a low of 2, which froze all that melted stuff, but the next day was to warm up into the mid 30's again.  More melting.  Oh the adventures. It was great to have the folks around to help each other out to clear the snow. TC was notified that the office was closed due to adverse weather via an automated system.  This happened for Sunday and then again for Monday.
Preliminary totals. Most increased later.
Afternoon. 1/24/16.
January 25, 2016
From an note sent out by Jo… “Just popping out to say hello and let you know we are still here!! We were able to get the Jeep and Ranger uncovered and ready to roll over the course of the last two days.  We moved them out completely today so the dude in the little Bobcat could get most of the snow out of those two spots, then we re-parked them.  I have that three feet of snow in the back of my truck, but between that and the 150 pounds of sand, I should have decent traction for a few weeks.  I'm not sure if I gave you our final update... it snowed non-stop for 30 hours and we ended up at about 36 inches.  Good grief.  That is a foot over Martinsburg's annual average... all in one storm.

We have been able to do our fair share of shoveling snow to help out others in the complex.  There are a number of older folks here and today we spent a bit of time getting a few of their cars uncovered and out of the way for Mr. Bobcat.  We did a bit of it yesterday also, and man did we sleep good last night!!  I imagine we will sleep good tonight as well.  We've also enjoyed just standing around chatting with a number of people.  Nothing like three feet of snow to make you see everyone in your complex!!

The temp is currently 38, so plenty of melting snow and slush is to be had.  Of course, it will freeze tonight, then we have rain in the forecast tomorrow.  But the remainder of this week the temp crosses up into the high 30's, low 40's.  It may take many moons to get rid of three feet of snow in our median, complex and city, but the warmer temps will help a little.

We hope that the local businesses are able to get back to work tomorrow.  Most such places the employees don't get paid if they aren't there.  Like at my Arby's where I go for my morning Pepsi.  They have been closed three days.  In an area that has many people barely making it, three days off is a lot of money for them.  What a blessing to be in a position that TC didn't lose three days of pay.  I keep thinking of my Arby's and Taco Bell buddies, sigh.”

We spent a great deal of the time watching the Weather Channel and Weather Underground on the television. It was good to be able to see what was happening all over the East and beyond.  The best coverage I found for the local area was on Facebook at the WV Eastern Panhandle Weather.  Luckily, we had no power issues here.

Snow Totals Map

January 26, 2016
I did go to work on Tuesday.  Turns out I had not received an earlier message to “stand-by” for updates.  I did receive the message that we were closed again, for possible freezing rain, shortly after I arrived at work.  I had plenty of company and we stood around in the office for a few moments comparing storm stories and snow totals.  Headed back home for another day.  It did give me chance to survey some of the town and see that there is still a lot of snow to be cleared from the streets.  The 4WD worked great on the Jeep with no traction issues today.

Here is a series of photos from my cellphone covering the event. Keep an eye on the fence level as it goes along.


Snow slush.

Looking West. 1/23/16.

Looking North. 1/23/16.
Looking South. 1/23/16.

Looking East. 1/24/16.
Thanks for reading along to the end.  Hope you learned something new along the way and enjoyed the photos and our adventure.  Please feel free to comment and share.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Civil War Central - January 2016

Civil War Central January 2016

Ever since we explored the West Virginia Eastern Panhandle during our house-hunting trip, we realized that we were right in the middle of many Civil War sites.  We decided that we would probably end up stopping at many of the areas to explore and brush up on some of the history of the area.   We are following up on that thought.  Included below are some of the areas we have seen during our road trips so far, with more to follow.

Antietam National Battlefield

“The Bloodiest One Day Battle in American History -
23,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or missing after twelve hours of savage combat on September 17, 1862. The Battle of Antietam ended the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia's first invasion into the North and led to Abraham Lincoln's issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.”  The park is set up to walk the grounds and then drive to various sites in the area that are related to the battles.  A National Cemetery is also nearby.

“The Battle of Antietam /ænˈtiːtəm/, also known as the Battle of Sharpsburg, particularly in the South, fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Union soil. It is the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with a combined tally of dead, wounded, and missing at 22,717.

After pursuing Confederate General Robert E. Lee into Maryland, Union Army Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan launched attacks against Lee's army, in defensive positions behind Antietam Creek. At dawn on September 17, Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker's corps mounted a powerful assault on Lee's left flank. Attacks and counterattacks swept across Miller's Cornfield and fighting swirled around the Dunker Church. Union assaults against the Sunken Road eventually pierced the Confederate center, but the Federal advantage was not followed up. In the afternoon, Union Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside's corps entered the action, capturing a stone bridge over Antietam Creek and advancing against the Confederate right. At a crucial moment, Confederate Maj. Gen. A. P. Hill's division arrived from Harpers Ferry and launched a surprise counterattack, driving back Burnside and ending the battle. Although outnumbered two-to-one, Lee committed his entire force, while McClellan sent in less than three-quarters of his army, enabling Lee to fight the Federals to a standstill. During the night, both armies consolidated their lines. In spite of crippling casualties, Lee continued to skirmish with McClellan throughout September 18, while removing his battered army south of the Potomac River.

Despite having superiority of numbers, McClellan's attacks failed to achieve force concentration, allowing Lee to counter by shifting forces and moving interior lines to meet each challenge. Despite ample reserve forces that could have been deployed to exploit localized successes, McClellan failed to destroy Lee's army. McClellan had halted Lee's invasion of Maryland, but Lee was able to withdraw his army back to Virginia without interference from the cautious McClellan. Although the battle was tactically inconclusive, the Confederate troops had withdrawn first from the battlefield, making it, in military terms, a Union victory. It had significance as enough of a victory to give President Abraham Lincoln the confidence to announce his Emancipation Proclamation, which discouraged the British and French governments from potential plans for recognition of the Confederacy.”

Cedar Creek & Belle Grove NHP

“From Backcountry to Breadbasket to Battlefield -- and Beyond
The Shenandoah Valley invites you to learn about its rich heritage, from Native Americans who first shaped the land, to pioneers of this frontier; this fertile area became one of the most important wheat producing regions of the entire South. The Valley also witnessed some of the most dramatic events of the Civil War, including the Battle of Cedar Creek, a decisive October 19,1864 Union victory.”  This park is spread out and includes government and privately owned areas.  You can stop at the visitor center for a short presentation and to pick up a CD for the self-guided vehicle tour.  We had a great time visiting with the ranger prior to our tour.

“The Battle of Cedar Creek, or Battle of Belle Grove, fought October 19, 1864, was the culminating battle of the Valley Campaigns of 1864 during the American Civil War. Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal Early launched a surprise attack against the encamped army of Union Maj. Gen. Philip Sheridan, across Cedar Creek, northeast of Strasburg, Virginia. During the morning fighting, seven Union infantry divisions were forced to fall back and lost numerous prisoners and cannons. Early failed to continue his attack north of Middletown, and Sheridan, dramatically riding to the battlefield from Winchester, was able to rally his troops to hold a new defensive line. A Union counter-attack that afternoon routed Early's army.

At the conclusion of this battle, the final Confederate invasion of the North was effectively ended. The Confederacy was never again able to threaten Washington, D.C. through the Shenandoah Valley, nor protect one of its key economic bases in Virginia. The stunning Union victory aided the reelection of Abraham Lincoln and won Sheridan lasting fame.”

Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP


“184.5 Miles of Adventure!
Preserving America's early transportation history, the C&O Canal began as a dream of passage to Western wealth. Operating for nearly 100 years the canal was a lifeline for communities along the Potomac River as coal, lumber and agricultural products floated down the waterway to market. Today it endures as a pathway for discovering historical, natural and recreational treasures!”

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park is a United States National Historical Park located in the District of Columbia and the states of Maryland and West Virginia. The park was established as a National Monument in 1961 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in order to preserve the neglected remains of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal along the Potomac River along with many of the original canal structures. The canal and towpath trail extends from Georgetown, Washington, D.C. to Cumberland, Maryland, a distance of 184.5 miles (296.9 km), and was designated as the first section of U.S. Bicycle Route 50 on October 23, 2013.”  There are many areas along the extensive trail that are accessible from main roads of Maryland, West Virginia, and D.C. 

“Construction on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (also known as "the Grand Old Ditch" or the "C&O Canal") began in 1828 but was not completed until 1850. Even then, the canal fell far short of its intended destination of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Instead, the canal terminated at Cumberland for a total distance of approximately 184.5 miles. Occasionally there was talk of continuing the canal, e.g. in 1874, an 8.4 mile long tunnel was proposed to go through the Allegheny Mountains, and there was a tunnel built to connect with the Pennsylvania canal. Even though the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (B&O) beat the canal to Cumberland, having arrived eight years earlier, the canal was not entirely obsolete. It wasn't until the mid 1870s that through improved technology, specifically with larger locomotives and air brakes, the railroad was able to set rates lower than the canal, sealing its fate.”

“The C&O Canal operated from 1831 to 1924 and served primarily as a means to transport coal from the Allegheny Mountains to Washington D.C. The canal was closed in 1924 in part due to several severe floods that had a devastating impact on the financial condition of the canal.”

Harpers Ferry NHP

“Step Back in Time-
A visit to this quaint, historic community, at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, is like stepping into the past.  Stroll the picturesque streets, visit exhibits and museums, or hike our trails and battlefields. Spend a day or a weekend.  We have something for everyone, so come and discover Harpers Ferry!”  We were fortunate to visit there when many in attendance were dressed in period-correct clothing.  We had  a great time exploring the area!

“Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers in and around Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. The park includes land in Jefferson County, West Virginia; Washington County, Maryland and Loudoun County, Virginia. The park is managed by the National Park Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Originally designated as a National Monument in 1944, the park was declared a National Historical Park by the U.S. Congress in 1963. The park includes the historic town of Harpers Ferry, notable as a center of 19th century industry and as the scene of John Brown's abolitionist uprising. Consisting of almost 4,000 acres (16 km2), the landmarks the site on which Thomas Jefferson once said, "The passage of the Potomac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature" after visiting the area in 1783. Due to a mixture of historical events and ample recreational opportunities, all within 50 miles (80 km) of Washington, D.C., the park was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.”

“Abolitionist John Brown led an armed group in the capture of the armory in 1859. Brown had hoped he would be able to arm the slaves and lead them against U.S. forces in a rebellion to overthrow slavery. After his capture in the armory by a group of Marines (led by U.S. Army Colonel Robert E. Lee), Brown was hanged, predicting in his last words that civil war was looming on the horizon, a prediction that came true less than two years later. The most important building remaining from John Brown's raid is the firehouse, now called John Brown's Fort where he resisted the Marines.”

“The American Civil War (1861–1865) found Harpers Ferry right on the boundary between the Union and Confederate forces. The strategic position along this border and the valuable manufacturing base was a coveted strategic goal for both sides, but particularly the South due to its lack of manufacturing centers. Consequently, the town exchanged hands no less than eight times during the course of the war. Union forces abandoned the town immediately after the state of Virginia seceded from the Union, burning the armory and seizing 15,000 rifles. Colonel Thomas J. Jackson, who would later become known as "Stonewall", secured the region for the Confederates a week later and shipped most of the manufacturing implements south. Jackson spent the next two months preparing his troops and building fortifications, but was ordered to withdraw south and east to assist P.G.T. Beauregard at the First Battle of Bull Run. Union troops returned in force, occupying the town and began to rebuild parts of the armory. Stonewall Jackson, now a major general, returned in September 1862 under orders from Robert E. Lee to retake the arsenal and then to join Lee's army north in Maryland. Jackson's assault on the Federal forces there, during the Battle of Harpers Ferry led to the capitulation of 12,500 Union troops, which was the largest number of Union prisoners taken at one time during the war. The town exchanged hands several more times over the next two years.”

Fort Frederick State Park, MD

“American history from the colonial period to the can be discovered at Fort Frederick State Park. Our 585 acre park features a unique stone fort that served as Maryland’s frontier defense during the French and Indian War. The Fort's stone wall and two barracks have been restored to their 1758 appearance. Historic exhibits are in the Fort, barracks, CCC Museum and Visitor Center. The park annually holds programs such as artillery firings, junior ranger, colonial children’s day and the 18th Century Market Fair. The park borders the Potomac River, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal passes through the park. The park also features a boat launch, campsites, camp store, fishing, flat water canoeing, a hiking trail, interpretive and educational programs, picnicking, a playground, and a shelter. For more information on facilities, hours, and programs please contact the visitor center.”  We visited during the off-peak time and still found plenty to enjoy. 

“The stone fort built in 1756 protected Maryland’s frontier settlers during the French and Indian War. Fort Frederick is unique because of its strong stone wall, large size, and roomy barracks. Fort Frederick also saw service during the American Revolution as a prison for British soldiers. For the next 131 years, the fort and surrounding lands were farmed. During the Civil War, Union troops were often stationed near the fort to guard the C & O Canal. In 1922, the State of Maryland acquired the fort. During the Great Depression of the 1930's, a company of the Civilian Conservation Corps restored the fort and began development of the state park. In 1975, the park reconstructed two soldier’s barracks inside the fort. These barracks are open seven days a week from Memorial Day to Labor Day and on the weekends in the spring and fall. During those times, staff and volunteers dressed in 18th century clothing occupy the fort, demonstrating daily life in the 18th century.”

“Fort Frederick State Park is a Maryland state park surrounding the restored Fort Frederick, a star fort active in the French and Indian War (1754–1763) and the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783).[5] The park is south of the town of Big Pool on the Potomac River; the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal runs through the park grounds. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1973.”

“Fort Frederick was sold at auction in 1791 and lay abandoned until the American Civil War. The fort was garrisoned at the outbreak of war and was used as a gun emplacement to protect the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, which paralleled the canal. The 1st Maryland Infantry (US) occupied the area in December 1861 and Company H fought in a skirmish at the fort against Confederate raiders on Christmas Day, 1861. The regiment left in February 1862. In October 1862, a picket from the 12th Illinois Cavalry briefly occupied the area. The military usefulness of the fort ended by 1862.”

Thanks for reading along to the end.  Hope you learned something new along the way and enjoyed the photos.  Please feel free to comment and share.