No Los Angeles earthquake, the ice storm and...


January 27, 1994

WHILE IT WAS no Los Angeles earthquake, the ice storm and frigid weather that settled on the Northeast last week was also a reminder of mankind's helplessness when Mother Nature decides to become Mommie Dearest. The record-setting storm wreaked havoc on the homeless, on families whose loved ones were killed or injured in weather-related accidents, on the demand for power and on the ability of the resolute letter carriers to deliver the mail. Bad weather is a perennial topic of conversation, but this was something worse, something more frightening.

Anyone who thought back to summer and half-jokingly prayed for another of the Chesapeake region's infamous heat waves had a short memory, however.

Personally, we won't soon forget stretches like the one last summer, just before Baltimore hosted major league baseball's All-Star Game. Temperatures routinely sizzled in the 90s that week, occasionally creeping past 100. We recall going to a game at Oriole Park the Saturday before the All-Star event (for which we had ordered tickets six months in advance, naturally.) We could barely settle on our seats without burning our bottoms. Before the game began, so as to spend as little time in the oppressive sun as possible, we sought shelter beneath the stands -- just in time to watch paramedics frantically rush out a boy who had fainted from the heat. The youth had been stripped of most of his clothes and was packed in ice on a stretcher.

The feeling we had that July moment, of being trapped in weather that could so injure someone, of second-guessing whether we should have left the house, of being both scared and in awe of Nature in her extremes, actually seemed very similar to the feelings we all shared in the big chill of last week.

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