Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Was it just a dream?

As sleep was entering my domain this last Saturday night, a rumble in the distance piqued my interest. Was it the sound of an 18-wheeler rolling down US 258? Was it a powerful engine coming to life in the yard of a neighbor? I was having trouble pinpointing the origin of this sound.

Saturday’s daylight hours were mostly on the bright side. I arose around 8 a.m. and made a fresh pot of coffee to jumpstart my day. An overcast, cool morning gave way to partly sunny day….just right to finally get outside and get to work clearing my yard of hundreds of pine cones, twigs and small limbs that had fallen over the past few months.

I spent the day working to complete the task at hand, all while watching over my grandson who had come for a weekend visit. Brody enjoyed the outdoors as well, busying himself playing with his two next-door-neighbor cousins. The sound of their love and laughter helped brighten the day even more.

After dinner, a bath, and a few hours of watching cartoons on Nexflix (there was no NCAA basketball for me as Brody commands the TV during his visits), we finally made it to bed around 11. An hour or so later, my sleep was interrupted by the rumble….then another…then another. A abrupt flash of light filled the bedroom; a storm was approaching.

But it’s still winter…..thunderstorms are typically of the spring and summer variety.

Saturday night’s storm was not a “one-and-done” thunder-and-lightning event. As one small cell passed over (complete with sharp bolts and long, rolling claps of thunder afterwards), there would be a brief lull and then another cell approached. It seemed to me to last for about an hour or so.

The only thing that crossed my mind was the old tale about thunder/lightening in the winter…..snowfall will follow inside of one week. What’s so unique about the timing of all this is that Tuesday, March 20 is the first day of Spring.

Well, low and behold, snow is in the forecast for Wednesday of this week. An area of low pressure is expected to move across the state late Monday into Tuesday and develop into a strong storm off our coast….possibly forming a nor’easter.

With colder air moving in behind the system, Wednesday’s high isn’t expected to get out of the 30’s. If it’s cold enough just above us, the rain that’s expected may turn to snow, or a mixture of the two.

The earlier forecast models predicted three-to-five inches of snow for our area of the state, but that amount had backed off to an inch or less by Sunday (the day in which this column was written).

Figuring in the scenario that my late father always preached (the weatherman is 100 percent correct, 10 percent of the time), then that means we may very well not see any snowflakes, which is just fine with me. It’s already been a hard, cold winter…..to include record-setting cold in January (-7 degrees) and two snow events of measureable “white stuff” to date.

This all reminds me of the big March storm of 1980. Deborah and I had married one year earlier and were living and working in Tarboro at the time. The National Weather Service dubbed it the “Snowstorm of the Century.” Here is their written account of that historic late winter weather event:

“On the afternoon and evening of March 2, 1980, North Carolina experienced a major winter storm with heavy snow across the entire state and near blizzard conditions in the eastern part of the state. Widespread snowfall totals of 12 to 18 inches were observed over Eastern North Carolina, with localized amounts ranging up to 22 inches at Morehead City and 25 inches at Elizabeth City, with unofficial reports of up to 30 inches at Emerald Isle and Cherry Point.

In addition, sustained winds of 20 to 40 mph were observed in eastern North Carolina with gusts of over 50 mph. The maximum gust recorded was 62 mph at Cape Hatteras. The winds caused snow drifts up to 8 feet. All travel in North Carolina came to a stop with many stranded motorists in eastern sections.

Property damage was estimated at $21.8 million with nearly $10 million in Duplin County to the poultry industry. There were 13 storm related deaths statewide, including eight in the Newport/Morehead City area of responsibility.”

I can’t recall a thunderstorm passing by a few days before that particular snowstorm.

Let’s all hope history does not run in a 38-year cycle.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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