We Asked for It

June 17, 1994

Come back winter of '94. All is forgiven!

No one, to our knowledge, has scratched that S-O-S into the hard-baked shores of the Chesapeake to make this point; still, it is amazing how fleeting our memories are regarding weather.

A hundred-plus days ago everyone wondered if we would ever thaw out from the third coldest January and February in a century. Jan. 19ths' average temperature, zero, was the lowest in 123 years of record-keeping in Baltimore. And, where were you when 4 inches of sleet fell Feb. 10-11? Vehicles wouldn't start, or maybe worse, wouldn't stop after they got started. Record power demands forced businesses to close early. Every morning dawned to the reveille of cars being chipped out and broadcasters' roll calls of school closings.

This week, it seems as though we are not just in another season, but on some other planet: The hot air feels just as heavy on our chests as had the show drifts on our shovels. The heat and the air pressure forces eyes to squint and lungs to burn upon walking outdoors.

Just as last winter, the elderly and infirm are being advised to stay indoors. Just as last winter, children are being dismissed early from school. Just as last winter, the electric utilities are pleading with us to ease demand.

There's a pattern here, right? A withering winter, a stifling end of spring, not to forget the wettest March ever in between. But the meteorologists admonish us not to put faith in short-term weather memory. The temperature record just missed yesterday was set but a few years ago, so we've been through early heat waves recently. (Besides, three of the hottest Maryland summers on record have come in the last half-dozen years: 1988, 1991 and 1993.) As always, the weathermen say trends indicating global warming or other climatic phenomena are measured over centuries, not a few years.

We don't need eons' worth of data to conclude that weather extremes are miserable, dangerous and costly, and the fact that we are seeing them more frequently is unpleasant. Still, if we had to compare the livability of last winter to this past week, we'd have to prefer the heat wave -- by a few degrees.


Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.