A Bit of Scary Weather

Tornado warnings? Take shelter now? Oh my!

So last night a line of severe thunderstorms rolled through our area – which is nothing unusual – but then both my wife and I looked down at our phones and saw something that nobody wants to see: a tornado warning urging us to seek shelter immediately.

Emergency Alert: Tornado Warning, Take shelter now
Well, shit.

Now, tornados are not a normal occurrence here in New Jersey – they do happen, but it’s rare. Still, this was my first time seeing an actual tornado warning as opposed to a watch – and checking the details showed that this alert was based on radar-indicated rotation, not an actual sighting. Still, we decided that it would probably be best to take shelter anyway – just in case. (I was born in the midwest and lived my first 7 years there, so I have a healthy respect for tornado warnings.)

So we quickly grabbed our pet carrier and shoved two very confused & grouchy bunnies into it (they were in the middle of their dinner) and headed down into our basement.

I wasn’t terribly worried – tornadoes in this part of the country tend not to last very long due to the terrain, so the odds were in our favor in that regard. Plus, even if there was a tornado, it might not have touched down, and it probably wouldn’t be anywhere near as powerful as the ones you get in more open areas. Still, with the heavy rain soaking the ground and strong winds, there is always the possibility of a tree coming down on the house. We trim and maintain our trees pretty well for this reason, but you never know.

So that’s how we found ourselves sitting in the basement with the bunnies for about a half hour while we waited out the storm. Our house was built on a 2-3 inch concrete slab on top of steel I-beams, so the basement is a very safe place.

Bunnies in their pet carrier
The buns did not appreciate having their dinner interrupted.

In the end, the worst of the storm ended up passing just to the north of us, so we didn’t get much more than some very heavy rain.

So, that was our sort-of close call with severe weather – our first real bad scary weather incident in our house. Thankfully nothing really came from it (at least for us; others in parts of the state were not so lucky).

The buns got back to their dinner and everything returned to normal.

Keith’s Winter Driving Tips

Some common-sense tips for driving in the snow and ice of winter.
With all the snow & ice hitting us up here in the northeast US, I figured it was time to try and educate people about how to drive in the snow… because, seriously, a lot of people seem to have a real problem with it. So here goes.

Slow down

If you do just one thing while driving in the snow, it should be to slow down. Pretend that everything is happening in slow motion. In the snow, or really any time the roads are very slippery, everything you try to do takes longer to happen. This means you need to do things more slowly/gradually: accelerate slower, brake slower, and turn slower.

Check your tires

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got AWD, 4WD, traction control, anti-lock brakes, etc., unless your tires can get some grip. If you’ve got summer tires, or worn down “all-season” tires, this more than outweighs any advantage from those sorts of systems.

This is especially true if you’ve got low-profile, high-performance sport tires – if you have these sorts of tires on your (sports) car, you should really just stay home and keep off the roads. (And that goes double for people driving luxury SUVs which often come with “sporty” tires which are absolute rubbish in the snow.)

Acronyms don’t make you invincible

This is something that really needs to be drilled into people’s minds. Yes, 4-wheel drive (4WD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) is great, and yes, it gives you extra traction… for getting moving. But keep in mind that when it comes time to turn, or to stop, you still have the same number of wheels (and brakes) as everyone else on the road.

4WD/AWD will help keep you from getting stuck in the snow, but that’s about it.

Clear all the snow from your car

Yes, I know it’s annoying to have to clear all that snow off your car, and it can be tempting to just clear the windows and go… but there are a lot of good reasons to take the extra time and effort to clear the rest of the snow off your car.

If you have a tall vehicle (say, an SUV, which is probably why you don’t want to make the effort to get the snow off in the first place since it’s harder to get at) then all that snow is adding weight to your car, and adding it up high like that makes you rather top heavy – or to put it simply, you’re more likely to flip over.

And let’s also not forget that eventually that snow is going to come flying off your car – and then just think about the poor person behind you.

Turn on your lights

I’m seriously amazed at how many people I see driving in the snow without their headlights on. Many of them are driving white or silver cars, which makes it even worse.

Many states (something like 20 the last time I checked, including New York and New Jersey) have a “wipers on, lights on” rule, and for a very good reason – when visibility is reduced due to rain, fog, or snow, turning on your headlights makes it easier for other people to see (and, critically, avoid) you.


I hope that some of these tips have helped someone out there – driving in the snow really is not that complicated, you just need to keep your wits about you and make sure you have the right equipment.

If you have any winter driving tips of your own to share, feel free to share them in the comments!

It’s Getting Hot… Everywhere

The temperature on my porch yesterday morning:

hot

That’s just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit,  or just below 40 degrees Celsius.  It was just as hot over the weekend, and it’s going to be just as hot for most of the week. That’s hot – and it’s not even “technically” summer yet!

Calvin on Snow

I think Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes) said it best:

“Getting an inch of snow is like winning 10 cents in the lottery.”

Right on.

Rain, Rain, Go Away

So, it’s raining today. And it’s currently 43 degrees F. (It was 63 two days ago.) Overall, it’s just been really, really, unseasonably warm.

I wish this rain would go away… and come back as SNOW! 16 inches or something crazy like that. I like snow. 🙂