Photos from a recent snowstorm

I know late winter snowfalls are a hassle for most people. I know. Especially after spring seems to have arrived. Having to deal with piles of snow after dealing with it all winter long is not fun for most people.

I am not most people. I love winter. I love snow. I love the cold. And when more cold weather comes, I enjoy it. Like this recent snowstorm. I went outside and took photos in the thick of it. Came back wet, because the snow was melting as it was falling. My camera was thoroughly wet. My lens was wet. Neither of the two are waterproofed. Thank goodness they’re still working.

Remember, it’ll be warm soon enough, and before we know it, it’ll be so disgustingly warm that we’ll be sweating through our clothes and our cars’ ACs won’t be able to handle all the heat. That’s disgusting weather for me. That’s filthy weather for me. It’ll be here soon enough, unfortunately. So I’m going to relish the snowstorms while I still can.

Enjoy the photos!


A freezing spell

Exactly six years ago to the day, there was a freezing spell overnight. It rained over fallen snow, then it quickly froze, encapsulating plants in a sheath of ice. This sort of thing is dangerous for trees, because it makes their branches so heavy that it can split them apart. Back in college, in Vermont, we had a serious freezing spell one winter that broke apart many of the trees on campus; thankfully, this wasn’t that serious. It helped that we were in Virginia at the time, where winters aren’t that rough.


The day our MINI froze over

One winter day, as I finished work late in the evening, about eight o’clock, I went out to the parking lot and saw my MINI looking this:

I hadn’t expected that. It had rained earlier in the day, particularly during lunch and it had continued to drizzle through the afternoon. The evening had brought a freezing spell with it, and all that water had turned to ice, on the ground and in the sky.

What to do? I didn’t have an ice scraper with me, but I remembered someone had given me one of those mini-CDs and I’d put it in the car. After prying the door open, I grabbed it and started scraping off the ice from the windshield. Who knew that thing would do something useful someday? 🙂

It took about half an hour to get the windshield clean and another twenty minutes to warm up the car sufficiently so that it melted the rest of the ice from the windows. I loved every minute of it, in spite of the freezing cold. You know why? Because an unexpected adventure is a chance to experience something different, something extra-ordinary and it’s a welcome thing in my book.

What do you think I did after I got the car started? Did I take the highway and head home fast? No, I took the scenic route and enjoyed my MINI’s wonderful winter handling, with the aid of my winter tires, plodding through the freshly fallen snow and sliding over ice patches. I did a few donuts in the empty parking lot, slid the rear through corners, braked just so I could slide on the empty roads… I still smile when I think of that evening. Fun, fun, fun! 🙂


Thinking of colder times

We’ve been hit by a serious heat wave during the past few weeks, with very little rain and ridiculously high temperatures (not normal for Southern Transilvania, where summers used to be a balmy 25-27 degrees Celsius when I was a kid). So I started to think fondly of colder times and gladly contemplated freezing weather — anything to escape the heat.

The photos were taken in Grosvenor Park.


Hailstorm in October


The weather’s been really odd in Romania this past week or so. After meteorologists announced a long, warm autumn, the weather turned unseasonably cold — terribly cold — for October. It snowed up to 10 cm or more some places, and where I live, we had hail the size of small pebbles — in October, mind you! I for one have never seen this kind of strange weather this early in the year, not even when I lived in Vermont (NE US) during my college years. For comparison purposes, the first snowfall I saw in the Washington, DC area last year (in 2008) was on November 22.

I recorded a short video clip of the hailstorm as it fell last week, and also took some photos. Thank goodness the hail was soft, because it would have damaged cars and crops otherwise.

Hailstorm, Medias, Romaniasee it on YouTube




The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse

The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse is the oldest surviving screw-pile lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay. It was built in 1856 (before the Civil War), and installed at the mouth of the Patapsco River, where it marked the shoal known as Seven Foot Knoll for 133 years. We visited it during our recent trip to Baltimore.

The lighthouse used an innovative design called the screw-pile, which looks like a large-scale, big-head drill bit. The screw-pile is also described as a “system of cast-iron pilings with corkscrew-like bases”. It eliminated the need for underwater masonry foundations, which were (and still are) hard to build on muddy bottoms. The screw-piles could be screwed into the sea-bottom, and a construction developed on top of them.

The Seven Foot Knoll Lighthouse was the second screw-pile lighthouse on Chesapeake Bay, and was used from 1856 until 1987, although keepers lived in it only until 1949, when it was automated. By the second half of the 1960s, the lighthouse started to show serious signs of aging, and it was thankfully moved to the Inner Harbor in 1988.

From 1856 until 1919, keepers lived in the lighthouse along with their families, but life was very hard in the lighthouse, particularly in the winter, when ice sheets threatened to topple it. Over the years, various pilings and rock barriers were put up to protect the lighthouse from the ice and from ships in distress who might bump into it, but it was the ice that posed the biggest problem, which was never quite solved. Every single winter, families lived in immediate peril there, and even had to be evacuated a few times as the lighthouse bent precariously in the face of advancing ice sheets. From 1919 until 1948, the Coast Guard recognized the hazardous nature of the lighthouse work, and allowed keepers to work in pairs, with each receiving 8 days of shore leave per month.

There’s a courageous event recorded on August 21, 1933, when Keeper Thomas J. Steinhise risked his life to rescue the crew of a sinking tugboat named Point Breeze. There was a terrible storm that night, with fifteen-foot seas and 90-mph winds, and yet Thomas Steinhise fired up his small motor boat and navigated in the direction of distress whistles to save the lives of five crewmen. He was awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal for his heroic deed.

After the lighthouse was moved to the Inner Harbor in 1988, the Coast Guard donated it to Baltimore City, and in 1990, a lighthouse restoration project, completed with grants and the aid of volunteers, was completed. In 1997, the lighthouse became part of the Baltimore Maritime Museum.

The lighthouse’s current location is more clearly seen in these two photos taken from the top of the World Trade Center in Baltimore. I’m sorry for the poor quality of the photos, but I had to shoot through the thick (and dirty) glass of the visitor center at the top.