A Year of Weather

December 29, 1993

This year dawned in Baltimore only one day after a warm front set a record high temperature of 72 degrees for a New Year's Eve. As the current snow storm attests, weather will again be making news as the old year gives way to 1994.

Christmas Night 1993 will be remembered by many Marylanders largely for the sudden, stormy weather and icy conditions that created unwanted adventures for anyone who had to be on the roads that evening.

Elsewhere in the country, record cold temperatures are making their mark on the holiday season, in some places intimidating even the heartiest of denizens. When Minnesotans cancel winter festivities because of the cold, you know weather is news.

Meanwhile, parts of Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands were experiencing their own Floods of '93 nightmare. Overflowing rivers ruined many a holiday celebration, causing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people. In some areas, swollen rivers approached the record levels set in the 1920s; damages were estimated in the tens of millions of dollars.

In southern Israel last week, flash floods brought an amount of rainfall equal to the average rain the area receives in a year. Two people were killed and highways were closed in the region. Three days of rain in western Ukraine left 1,000 people homeless. These headlines represent only a partial roundup of significant weather news.

Through the ages, weather has been an endless source of conversation, speculation and exasperation. Even now, when central heating and air conditioning provide significant insulation, weather can make or break a day, a season, even a year. Decades from now, Midwesterners will recall the floods of '93. Those rains reshaped a region and reminded us all that nature, not the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will ultimately decide where the mighty Mississippi rolls.

Because it can't be controlled -- and can't always be predicted -- weather may be the world's most reliable newsmaker, year in and year out. So as we prepare to ring out the old and greet the new, let's raise a glass to the natural elements: Here's to the weather; may it make less news in '94!

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