Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Morning in Laurel - Winter or Spring?

Cody and I woke early today. We made a trip for Cody's "hurry-up" and it felt surprisingly warm outside.  The air was still and the temperture just a smidge above freezing.  It smelled damp.

The street light committee on our block seemed unsure if it was really morning.  Two streetlights had already turned off but a third holdout remained on, waiting for more evidence of morning.  Perhaps the holdout was simply hoping to collect a bit of overtime for BG&E before spring's longer days arrive and reduce profits.

This is a fitting dilemma for Cody and me to ponder at the end of February.  Is it spring or winter?  Night or day?  Will we have a few more weeks of cold and snow?  Or will Joanne's spring flower bulbs soon announce springtime?  We can't be sure.

Time for us to go back inside for coffee and wait for more evidence.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Kojo Nnamdi: Blogging The Blizzard

Laurel Connections was part of a panel of three community bloggers today on Kojo Nnamdi's show on WAMU - 88.5 FM.   

A Podcast of the show should be available soon.

My goal on the show was to explain how web 2.0 tools can help us grow closer together as a community.   

The snow storm provided an excellent example of how our local government, our local newspaper and our community collaborated using web sites, blogs, photo sharing sites, listservs and old fashioned can-do spirit to keep each other informed and safe.

Increasing social capital and social cohesion via web 2.0 tools is an answer to Robert Putnam's challenge in "Bowling Alone."  I believe it's one of the ways that we will recreate stronger communities in the Internet Age.  
Major media cover national news with thousands of reporters.  Big city newspapers and electronic media cover metro stories with a few dozen reporters.  However, not everything that is most important to our lives happens on Capital Hill or in the West Wing.

In a crisis, the most important thing to know might be what is happening right now on the next block.  Major newspapers, TV and radio stations cannot cover our neighborhood.  Web 2.0 tools like blogs, Twitter, listservs and Facebook give us the tools we need to inform ourselves.  Information we need to stay safe, stay warm and to help one another.  Web 2.0 tools support  our first ammendment freedom in its purest form.  

Blogs and listservs will never replace great community newspapers like the Laurel Leader.   However local blogs and community newspapers can cooperate and serve the community better than either could alone.

Sometimes knowing where to borrow a shovel when your car is snowed under, or who has a warm cup of coffee when your power is out can be the most important thing in the world.

Photowalk Wednesday Night

Here's a new slideshow.  I took a cold walk around town Wednesday night. 

The only things moving around Laurel were plows and my chattering lips.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Kudos Laurel Leader


Laurel Leader's Editor, Melanie Dzwonchyk, has continued her unflagging support of digital publishing to keep us informed during the storm.  Melanie has heroically filed online stories during the teeth of the storm proving that local journalism doesn’t need ink and paper to serve our community. 

The Leader has published early and online this week.  You can read the Leader’s latest snow story here.  Kudos to Melanie and her team at the Leader.

It's too bad the Leader’s publishers refuse to create a professional website for our much beloved Laurel Leader.  We are left with their absolutely horrible “explore howard dot com” website.  

The fact that the “explore howard dot com” loses the brand identity provided by the Laurel Leader is sad enough.  However, the technology that their site runs on must have been first deployed by Gutenberg himself.   There seems to be simply no commitment to digital publishing by this publisher. It appears to be only an afterthought and is certainly not being worked as an emerging profit center.

I understand that community newspapers are losing money.  But it's a damn shame that the people running Patuxent Publishing do not embrace the web and dedicate their time and energies to improving their digital editions.  If there is any way to stop hemorrhaging money, the tourniquet must be built from their digital product.

Community news is vitally important to every small town in America.  I have dozens of sources for national news.  There are thousands of reporters in DC covering the federal government.  But on a good day, we only have a precious few reporters like Gwendolyn Glenn and Melanie Dzwonchyk to tell us what is happening in our own back yard.  

Come on Patuxent Publishing please give us a real community news website for the Laurel Leader.  A website that lives at laurelleader.com and a website that carries a local brand and logo that we can identify with. 
 

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The Calm Between the Storms

Cody and I are taking a break today.  Here we are at the Laurel Connections Crisis Operations Center, i.e., the LCCOC.  We are getting a bit of much needed rest between these historic and breathless snow storms.

Dogs and bloggers both need their rest after five days of tweeting, face booking, TV watching, emailing, non-stop eating, web surfing, aimless walking, photographing, general and specific malingering and the occasional nip of medicinal hooch.

Cody is keeping watch for she-who-must-be-obeyed (SWMBO).  If we sleep too soundly, SWMBO gets all excited and assumes that we kicked the bucket.  Cody's job is to make sure SWMBO doesn't haul us outside for special pick-up.  The DPW guys are much too busy clearing the streets to drag our large carcass away to the landfill.

We've also been adding new pictures to our LCCOC storm-of-the-century slide show.   

On an serious note, Council President Gayle Snyder emailed us this morning saying that Richard Kluckhuhn is concerned that his famous Christmas Tree may have been severely damaged by the February 6 storm. The Kluckhuhn family has brightened Laurel's Christmases for at least two generations with the lighted tree.  This picture shows some of the damage.  Let's hope that the tree can be saved for future generations.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Oh No ... More Snow!

Issued by The National Weather Service
Baltimore/Washington, MD
3:04 pm EST, Mon., Feb. 8, 2010

... WINTER STORM WARNING IN EFFECT FROM NOON TUESDAY TO 7 PM EST WEDNESDAY... 

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN STERLING VIRGINIA HAS ISSUED A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR... WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TUESDAY TO 7 PM EST WEDNESDAY. THE WINTER STORM WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT. 

* PRECIPITATION TYPE... SNOW.
* ACCUMULATIONS... 10 TO 20 INCHES. 

* TIMING... MID-AFTERNOON TUESDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY.
* TEMPERATURES... TEMPERATURES NEAR FREEZING AT THE ONSET TUESDAY AFTERNOON. TEMPERATURES WILL DROP INTO THE UPPER 20S TUESDAY NIGHT AND WEDNESDAY.
* WINDS... LIGHT SOUTHEASTERLY WINDS TUESDAY BECOMING NORTHWESTERLY 15 TO 25 MPH WEDNESDAY.
PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

A few more pictures as the storm abates

Eric and I walked around this evening as the sun was setting.  Blue skies emerged for the briefest moment.

Tastee Diner and another business on Main street lost their window awnings to the snow.  Impressive drifts were found on roofs all over town.  


Tomorrow we start the big dig.

Slide show is found here.

UPDATE: Laurel Leader posts a snowstorm story.

Snow Stories

I took a walk around town this morning.  Here is the slide show with pictures  including last night's and this morning's shots.

I had a chance to talk to Laurel's Mayor, Craig Moe.  Hizzoner is out plowing in a small city truck.  He does a pretty good job, talking on the radio and clearing the LVFD station driveway at the same time.  Craig explained that the county will plow station 10, but that in a storm like this, everybody needs to step up to help.  He said it's important that the fire trucks and ambulance can get out of the station.

Marty Flemion and his team of senior staff members are at the City's Emergency Management Operations Center directing the city's response. Council President Gayle Snyder has been volunteering since early this morning answering phones at city hall.  Ed Ricks, a long-time city volunteer and former council member, has been up all night cooking for the city crews.  You may have seen Eddie and his helpers in the city's emergency canteen vehicle in the past.  Everybody in town is hard at work.

The city has been at work for a few days getting ready for this historic storm.  Every resource that the city has available is now engaged in the battle.  Crews are working around the clock.  The mayor told me that his first priority is responding to the storm and protecting the residents.  He and the city council will work together to find the money to pay for whatever we need to respond to this storm.  He said that is why we set aside financial reserves.

The biggest worry now is the loss of electricity.  According to the mayor, we have had a few limited outages.  But as the storm progresses and the wind increases, he is concerned that we may lose more trees.  Trees rip out the electric wires. 

Be sure to call BG&E if you lose power.  That is the only way they will know that your power is out.

Laurel is a unique place with so many wonderful people.  Jim McCeney has been clearing his neighbor's walks with his snow blower all morning.  I just heard that Jim's snow blower may have died before he cleared his own driveway.  City staff are working around the clock.  Neighbors are helping neighbors.  We are truly blessed.

Stay inside.  Stay out of your car.  Stay in touch.  Stay warm.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Oldtown Is Quiet

Joanne, puppy named Cody, Marybeth, and I took a short walk at about 9pm.  It was about 28 degrees F. and snowing heavily as you can see.  Marybeth, aka number 1 daughter, measured about 6 inches of snow.  

The streets are very quiet.  A few cars and plenty of plows.  Laurel's snow emergency streets have already been plowed at least twice.  Laurel avenue has also seen a plow at least once.  DPW valiantly keeping up so far.

Quick slideshow here.

History Books May Be Rewritten

The National Weather Service in Sterling, Va. has issued the following statement:

...RECORD SNOWFALL FORECAST IN THE BALTIMORE-WASHINGTON DC REGION...

...EXTREMELY DANGEROUS WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS DEVELOPING TONIGHT...

GUSTY NORTHEAST WINDS 20 TO 30 MPH WITH VISIBILITIES FREQUENTLY FALLING BELOW ONE-QUARTER MILE DUE TO HEAVY SNOW WILL DEVELOP TONIGHT TO PRODUCE NEAR-BLIZZARD AND EXTREMELY HAZARDOUS WINTER WEATHER CONDITIONS TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY MORNING. TRAVEL IS HIGHLY DISCOURAGED TONIGHT AND WILL BE VERY DANGEROUS.

LOOKING BACK AT THE BIGGEST STORM OF RECORD FOR WASHINGTON DC... THE JANUARY 1922 KNICKERBOCKER STORM ... 28.0 INCHES OF SNOW WAS PRODUCED FROM 3.02 INCHES OF LIQUID WATER. CURRENT FORECASTS FOR THIS EVENT HAVE TOTAL LIQUID FALLING FROM THIS STORM APPROACHING 3 INCHES ... WHICH ACCORDINGLY WOULD CREATE A SNOWFALL THAT WILL RIVAL THE KNICKERBOCKER STORM TOTAL. GENERALLY ACROSS THE REGION ... 20 TO 30 INCHES OF SNOW WILL FALL BY SATURDAY EVENING.

Top Ten Snowstorms for DC

From the washpost - Here are the top 10 snowstorms on record for Washington, D.C.:

1. January 27-28, 1922 ... 28 inches
2. February 11-13, 1899 ... 20.5 inches
3. February 18-19, 1979 ... 18.7 inches
4. January 6-8, 1996 ... 17.1 inches
5. February 15-18, 2003 ... 16.7 inches
6. February 11-12, 1983 ...16.6 inches
7. December 19-20, 2009 ... 16.4 inches (Snowpocalypse)
8. February 15-16, 1958 ... 14.4 inches
9. February 7, 1936 ... 14.4 inches
10. February 16-18, 1900 ... 14.3 inches

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Laurel MD Snow Totals via Twitter

We are going to be tracking snowfall in the Laurel region via Twitter.  Just include #laurelsnow in your tweet.

To follow all of the measurements just go here: http://twitter.com and search for #laurelsnow

Or if your firewall blocks twitter, I've added a twitter widget to the Laurel Connections blog.   

Here is a tutorial for measuring snow

SNOW ALERT FROM CITY OF LAUREL

This is an alert from the City of Laurel Emergency Operations Department.
Mayor Craig Moe has declared a snow emergency for February 5, 2010 effective 10:00am due to the predicted inclement weather that will hit the Laurel area.

If you live on a snow emergency route, please be aware that parking is not allowed on the even addressed side of the street. If your vehicle is found parked illegally on a snow emergency route, the police department will attempt to identify and locate the vehicle’s owner to remove it. However, if the vehicle’s owner cannot be found, the vehicle will be ticketed and possibly towed. If you find that your car has been towed, contact the Laurel Police Department at their non-emergency phone number at 301-498-0092. Please be aware if your car is towed, a parking violation will be issued for which the vehicle’s owner will be responsible. Additionally, if your vehicle is impounded, a fee for storage will be assessed to the owner which will have to be paid prior to the release of the vehicle.

Additionally, please follow the City ordinance that after the cessation of snowfall, all public sidewalks around your property must be shoveled within 12 hours or you will be cited. However, it is recommended that you also clear the walkways on your property in case emergency assistance is needed at your home. And when clearing off your cars, driveways and sidewalks do not throw the snow into the street.  This is a violation of City Code as this will create hazards for motorists and more problems for Public Works when they are clearing the streets.

The City of Laurel Emergency Operations Department is asking homeowners and residents to also please check that their downspouts, drains and sump pump discharges are free of snow to allow for proper drainage operations as well as check that fire hydrants are cleared of snow in case emergency personnel need to gain access. Due to the amount of snowfall that is being called for, you are urged to stay off the streets and stay home so that the Public Works vehicles can do their jobs sufficiently. If you do find yourself out on the roadways during the storm, please be reminded that if traffic signals are out or not visible due to snow, you must treat the intersection as a 4 way stop.

Finally, the Emergency Operations Department is asking that because of the cold temperatures that will be in place for this snow event, please check on neighbors, especially any elderly neighbors, to ensure that they are warm and safe. For more information regarding snow removal, please call the Department of Public Works at 301-725-0088. If during the storm you need emergency service, Fire and EMS can be reached by calling 911 and the Laurel Police can be reached by calling 301-725-3000 for emergency needs.

If you have any other questions that the City of Laurel can answer, we plan (subject to change dependent on weather conditions) on having City Hall front desk manned and you can call at 301-725-5300. Thank you.
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