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A Snow Victory (a story of the real thing)

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Feb 16, 2015

You’ve heard the legends of snow in Buffalo and Syracuse, New York, and in Erie, Pennsylvania. This year, these cities hold three of the top five positions for snowfall.

However, as one who lived in the Buffalo area until age twenty, I can testify that these areas of the country cheat; they take advantage of the impact of the Great Lakes. Cold air from Canada blows over the warmer waters of the lakes, heats up, takes on water vapor and—voila!—crystallizes as snow when the air hits the land mass of the United States.

The same thing can happen near the ocean, so Boston’s record snows this Winter may be attributable in part to those famous Nor’easters—winds that spin counter-clockwise just off the coast so that they are blowing out of the northeast when they hit land. These too suck up water vapor from the generous sea, proceed over the cold terrain of New England, and drop snow.

Now, if you just happen to live in or near Worcester, Massachusetts (as does that shameful braggart Phil Lawler), you are probably joining Phil in his claim to be number one in snowfall this Winter, for the continental United States.

In his hubris, Phil not only claims to be Number One. He says his region is setting its own record this year, surpassing anything since snow levels began to be recorded nearly 150 years ago. I am most reluctant to expose his pride, but the evidence is glaring. I quote from an email: “For Boston, the all-time record for snowfall in an entire winter is 105”. We’ve had about 100" in 3 weeks!” (For more evidence, see Whiteout. You will notice that Phil writes in a fairly somber tone, as if there is some reverence due to half-a-dozen feet of snow in his New England driveway.)

Tish tosh, Jeeves, tish tosh. Have I not mentioned that Massachusetts cheats? Did I not say that the “Lake effect” can also be produced by oceans? No, it simply won’t do. To be properly impressed, you have to look further south, to Virginia.

And you are in luck. For, by a remarkable coincidence, your humble scribe lives in Virginia.

In my usual spirit of generous candor, then, I am bound to mount a fair challenge. In our very first significant snowfall of 2014-2015, on this fateful day of February 16th, we Virginians are expected to receive six to ten inches tonight in my gentle city of Manassas alone—the site, I might add, of not one but two famous Civil War battles. (Two words: “Bull Run”. Do not linger over the first word.)

In fact, the flakes are already beginning to fall, even though the snow warning is not scheduled until 8:00 pm. Now I ask you! We have a 32nd of an inch of honestly-produced snow on the ground as I write. And it’s cold, too; near zero at night, and up to only about 15 degrees Fahrenheit during the day. (In Virginia, this is colder than the same temperatures in Massachusetts.) So vast and empty is this cold that our home heating system has trouble keeping up. The thermostat has fallen to a frightening 66 degrees.

Moreover, this snow may actually be around for more than one day. Just think what this means to a Virginian! Compelled by the frontier spirit, I’ve just gone out back and split four fireplace-sized logs. Note the sense of duty and the nobility of sacrifice! Hear the trusty axe whistling through the frigid air! Contemplate the strength, and see the muscles ripple! Four logs!

By all that is relevant, er, I mean relative, victory is mine!

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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