Category Archives: Weather

Hurrah for Jarvis Klapman!

Look at those beautiful green lines of flowing traffic!

Look at those beautiful green lines of flowing traffic!

The story on the front page of The State about flood-related traffic jams seemed a bit out of sync to me (although I understand plenty of others continue to have trouble), because I read it right after my easiest crossing of the river since the floods.

Opening Jarvis Klapman really made a huge difference. I left the house worried that I was going to be late because I had less than an hour to get downtown… and it was a breeze. I couldn’t believe how well things were flowing on Sunset, until I saw the reason why — cars whizzing overhead on the Jarvis Klapman overpass.

You really don’t appreciate a simple thing like having a 15-20-minute commute until you lose it for a few days. And I would never have thought that closing Jarvis Klapman — which is never particularly crowded — would turn Gervais, Meeting, Sunset, Knox Abbott and Blossom into parking lots at rush hour.

So I’m happy.

How are y’all’s traffic situations going?

The Saluda River is now back to within its banks!


At least, it is at Quail Hollow, which is all I can testify to for sure. (The Congaree, which I crossed a couple of times today, still looked fairly high — no doubt thanks to the Broad.)

The above photo was taken at 5:31 p.m. today from approximately the same angle as the one below, taken at 10:41 a.m. Monday.

See? I told you there were tennis courts under there…

full flood


Tenenbaums find refuge at hotel in Lexington

File photo: Samuel Tenenbaum at the HQ of Columbia's operation to help Katrina evacuees in 2005.

File photo: Samuel Tenenbaum at the HQ of Columbia’s operation to help Katrina evacuees in 2005.

Concerned about this Facebook message from Inez Tenenbaum, as of Monday evening:

Our home on the Saluda River is flooded and the renovations will probably take six weeks or more. If any of my Facebook friends know of a place we can rent (with two dogs and four cats) please let me know! Thanks so much.

I called and talked with Samuel. I knew how close their house was to the river. You know those pictures I keep showing of the pool and tennis courts at Quail Hollow? They’re like that close — although the house is on stilts.

Samuel says they’re doing OK. They’re in a Quality Inn Suites in Lexington that takes pets, which I found amazing. There are plenty of other flooded-out folks with pets staying there. The dogs are with them. The cats, who as we know fend for themselves, are back at the house with plenty of food — and Samuel is anxious to get back to check on them.

They evacuated on Sunday, just minutes before the Lake Murray floodgates were opened. Good call, since they are very close to the dam — they live in a rural area off Corley Mill Road.

There was already five feet of water in their driveway — not from the river, but from nearby creeks feeding into it. The water was moving too swiftly for a boat to come alongside to pick them up, so Samuel put Inez and the dogs into a kayak and pulled them, wading through the water himself. He told himself while doing so that any snakes in the water had already had the sense to abandon the area.

“Now I know what it’s like to be homeless,” he said — if only temporarily.

This is especially ironic because Samuel ran Columbia’s response to Hurricane Katrina 10 years back, heading up the operation to accommodate refugees from that disaster.

As he sees it, he’s following that protocol: “We established the plan 10 years ago. We put people in motels.” And that’s where he, Inez and the dogs are.

“It’s a bummer, it’s emotional. Here you are, 72 years old” and you have to deal with this. But he’s dealing with it with typical aplomb: “It’s a bummer, it’s emotional. “My name is Noah T-baum,” he’s telling everyone.

As for longer-term rental accommodations, the Tenenbaums have a line on a couple of places, although nothing is set in stone. So pass on any tips you have…

Drone pictures of Lake Murray dam with gates open

dam 1

I thought these were pretty cool images shared by the National Weather service yesterday evening, which I just saw. Here’s the caption info:

Drone images of the Lake Murray Dam Spillway. These floodgates have not been used since 1969. Photos courtesy of Ebben M Aley.

Technically, have those floodgates ever been used? Wasn’t the dam rebuilt a few years back? Of course, maybe the floodgate part is original equipment; I don’t know.

Finally, I can see the thing that caused the flooding in my area.

Here’s hoping letting off that pressure did the trick, and the dam remains strong.

Speaking of which, in my household we got to contemplating this passage in The State this morning:

SCE&G operates the lake originally built for hydropower 85 years ago but now a major source of recreation and drinking water for the Columbia area….

Which raises the question — are those good enough reasons to have those millions of tons of water poised over us? Couldn’t we get drinking water some other way?

Needless to say, you and your recreation seem kinda low priorities to me at the moment.

drone dam

Saluda River recedes to late-Sunday levels

recedingWell, this is encouraging.

I went down to check the river this morning (8:53 a.m.), and the water had receded to about where it was Sunday evening. The Quail Hollow pool was now visible, although full of filthy river water, and garbage bins that had been floating on Monday were on dry land. Well, not dry land, but merely soggy land.

I apologize for the dimness of the pool and surrounding area. There was this strange yellow thing in the sky that was too bright to look straight at, giving off an intense radiation that caused a backlighting problem.

Anyway, things are looking up in Quail Hollow.

Meanwhile, I’m working from home today. The twins are here because their school is out, and I just didn’t want to spend the day on the other side of the river from them and J. I don’t think there will be further trouble, but who knows. The edges of the road into our subdivision doesn’t look too great…

Now, the Quail Hollow pool is completely inundated

Monday morning, 10:38.

Monday morning, 10:38.

Here’s how I’m keeping track of the rising water…

There was the picture I took of the Quail Hollow pool — which is normally right next to the Saluda River — at 1:09 p.m. Sunday.

Then there was the one I took at 5:18 p.m. Sunday.

This morning at 10:38, the pool was no more to be seen.

Now, let me put this in perspective — especially for my kids in Thailand, who are worried about us: This represents a rise of a couple of feet in about 17 hours. It would still need to rise two or three yards to reach the street, which is the lowest-lying road in Quail Hollow — which is what, 50 feet or so from the high ridge that we are on.

So we’re fine. Our neighbors who spent the night with us because they were told to evacuate checked on their house this morning and there’s no water anywhere near it.

We’re fine.

In fact, watching this slow rise of the river through these images is sort of reassuring. If not regular and normal, it as least has a slow, plodding predictability to it. So we’ve got that going for us, which is nice.

Flooding in my neighborhood, Quail Hollow

These are the tennis courts at Quail Hollow in West Columbia on Sunday a little past midday.

They’re right next to the Saluda River, which you can see rushing in the background. I guess technically, all of this is now the Saluda River.

That loud buzzing is an alarm coming from a transformer that’s right next to me. I don’t know what it means, but I’m being careful not to touch the water.

Our house is one block from the river, but way up a steep hill.

We drove around the neighborhood a bit more, and then, as we returned to the house at 1:30, the sun came out. Don’t know whether that means the worst is over, or not.

More pictures below…

“Six feet of water in the streets of Evangeline…”

We were talking about good songs for this rainy, flooded weekend on the last post, and no one mentioned the most appropriate song of all, Randy Newman’s magnificent “Louisiana 1927.”

This one’s got it all — Newman’s irony mixed with pathos and sympathy for the common man, his orchestral sensibility, history, and his inimitable touch with lyrics. This is, of course, from his wonderful “Good Old Boys” album, which kicks off with the one truly brilliant Newman song that you will never, ever hear on the radio in this country — “Rednecks.” (If anyone overhears you listening to that one, and that person lacks a sense of irony, watch out. But I do recommend it, long as you’re not one a them college boys from LSU who went in dumb, come out dumb too.)

I prefer the original album version, which is below, but I used the one above for the pictures.

The song, of course, is about the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, which Wikipedia calls “the most destructive river flood in the history of the United States” — although we seem to be trying to give it a run for its money this weekend.

Oh, no, Sethory! The Devil’s Dandruff is a-comin’ back!

I keep seeing alarmist reports such as this:

Which seem a bit off, since my weather apps don’t show our temps going below 34 over the next few nights.

But should the Southland actually be plagued with the white stuff this weekend, might we also be treated to another disaster report from Buford Calloway on SNL?

WashPost: ‘Amazing cloud-repelling islands’


I like this picture that the WashPost posted yesterday showing a really cool weather phenomenon off the coast of Baja California.

The absence of clouds over the islands is explained thusly:

The clouds form over the ocean because the chilly Pacific water creates a layer of cool air at low altitudes. When the air is heated just above the ocean surface, it cools and condenses into clouds and fog forming the so-called marine layer (which is held in place by a temperature inversion, in which the air – divorced from the cool sea surface – warms with altitude).

But over the islands, the layer of cool air required for these clouds to form is often absent since land masses and the air above them heat up quickly (thanks to the low heat capacity of land versus water).  And so, unless there is wind  to push the marine layer over the islands, they’re bastions of sunshine….

I’m enjoying my new Digital Premium subscription to The Washington Post

The beginning of the big, sad thaw

The unappealing mix of ice chunks and slush collecting beneath the eaves of my house.

The unappealing mix of ice chunks and slush collecting beneath the eaves of my house.

There are these chunks of ice, about an inch in length, up to maybe half an inch in breadth, raining down onto the icy coating covering my lawn. At first, it appears to me yet another variety of precipitation. But it’s coming from the trees. The steady clatter these things produce on my roof is accompanied by a liquid drip from the eaves.

It’s 34 degrees Fahrenheit, and the melt has begun. Which always imparts to me a sense of loss. There was all this solid, stable beauty that forced us to take note of it, and now, far too soon, it’s disappearing.

That may seem perverse. It may sound like a guy who doesn’t want to go to work. But I can do most of my work from home, as long as there is electricity. That’s not it. Anyway, I’ve never experienced winter weather severe enough to prevent me getting to the office if I really need to. And during all my years working at newspapers, I always did go to work. But I still felt the sense of loss when the snow and ice started melting.

I think I’ve just not had enough ice and snow in my life to ever feel like I’ve had enough of it, to get to the point that I’m ready for it to go away.

Usually in my life, it has melted away before it even begins to stick. And then, on the rare of occasions when it does stick — and this is twice so far this season — you hardly have time to say, “It’s winter!” before the drip starts from the eaves, and the solid beauty has begun to die.

… a huge flurry of chunks just came down onto the roof just over my head. My home office is in and upstairs room…

I began life in South Carolina, and lived in Charleston and Bennettsville and Columbia until I was kindergarten age, when we moved to Norfolk. After Norfolk, we were in New Jersey for a year, and there I had a good bit of winter weather. I can remember walking to school — it was just across the street from the apartment complex where we lived — when the snow was nearly to my knees. But I was pretty short then.

We went to Bennettsville for Christmas that year, so I missed my one chance at a white Christmas. The closest I would some was when we had that snow on Boxing Day in 2010, the day before we left for England — and missed that blizzard they’d just had there.

I’m sort of the opposite of Rob McKenna the Rain God in Douglas Adams’ So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish — the lorry driver who is always driving through the rain that follows him everywhere. The snow generally avoids me. When it deigns to visit, it leaves before its welcome wears out, always. You might think of it as excessively polite.

It stayed away from me in most of the places I lived, as you’d expect — New Orleans; Tampa; Honolulu; Guayaquil, Ecuador. We got some in Jackson, TN, but it was always a big news story when we did. It was fairly routine in Wichita, but not so that I got tired of it. And I left Kansas as soon as I could for reasons unrelated to the weather. Although the incessant wind may have played a role in my eagerness to leave.

So anyway, here it is already above freezing, and it’s going away. And odd as it may seem, I hate to see this.

The icy debris that fell from trees, littering my sidewalk.

The icy debris that fell from trees, littering my sidewalk.

Haley looking very Chris Christie today. I just hope she doesn’t put on unhealthy pounds


While typing my last post, I was listening to Nikki Haley’s live presser about the weather. Occasionally, I would glance over, and was struck by how the gov had adopted the standard Chris Christie disaster couture, with the dark blue windbreaker and everything. (Although she added a stylish white turtleneck.)

I’m telling myself this doesn’t mean anything. It doesn’t mean she’s going to stop lanes of I-20 going through Kershaw County just to punish Vincent Sheheen or anything. And so far, it doesn’t look like she’s packing on any unhealthy pounds.

Apparently, this has become the national standard for a governor wanting to show that he or she is in Complete Weather Disaster Command and Control Mode. Like a general getting out of Class A’s and into fatigues — or rather, like what that would have meant decades ago, before generals started going to the office every day in BDUs.

Anyway, it just struck me as an interesting visual. Increasingly, we think in visual symbols rather than words, don’t we?

And are we next going to see Gov. Haley walking alongside President Obama, showing him the devastation wreaked on our state? Probably not… although I see she has sought a federal emergency declaration, which I found ironic…


Another ‘Walking Dead’ kind of day in the Southland


I had already made the comparison between the recent weather-related apocalypse in Atlanta and “Walking Dead,” but I had somehow missed this post providing photographic evidence.

Whoa. It even includes “survivors” shuffling through the wreckage, in images very like those from everyone’s fave zombie TV show. Check it out. The main visual difference is that in the real-life shots, everything is icy, while it seems like it’s always sweltering summer on “Walking Dead.”

And today, I look out around me, and except for the presence of shuffling undead, this could indeed be the end of all we knew. My iPad just chimed to tell me that “Nearly 52,000 SCE&G customers [are] without power.”

Right now, I’m listening to Nikki Haley’s live briefing. She says T-Rav’s Daddy’s bridge is closed again…

Days such as this remind me of a dream I used to have, decades ago. All you Freudians, prepare to take notes…

I would dream that I was in a house that was seemingly miles from any road or sign of life, with deep, deep snow covering everything. Nothing but whiteness could be seen, for miles and miles of softly undulating, hilly landscape. There were no tracks in the snow. Most of all, there was no sound whatsoever. I was seeing all this not so much from inside the house, as I was seeing the completely snow-bound house set in an all-white background.

The memorable thing about the dream, the thing I wanted to go back to after I awoke, was the utter peacefulness of it. There was nothing to do, and nothing to worry about. Worry and stress was a thing of other times and other places. There was just the snow, and the quiet.

All the Freudians are now going “death wish!” But keep in mind this was in the context of me being a newspaperman. I had to go to work no matter what the weather, and go to great trouble to generate boring weather stories. Sitting tight in a warm house looking at the pretty snow was just not a part of my life.

I think maybe the dream just had to do with wanting a day off like other people. Even though I always scorned those wimps who stayed at home because it was a bit slippery outside, on some level I think I envied them. A perfectly pedestrian impulse. Although I’ll admit there was something mystical, something unearthly, about the peacefulness of that dream.

But I digress…



Here’s an idea for Ravenel’s new reality show

This was pretty funny — at least, the parts that I could make out through that thick, awful, fake “Gone With the Wind” accent.

Yes, I can see how folks up north — in places “like Vermont, and South Carolina” — might laugh at Southerners’ overreaction to a couple of inches of snow.

But this gives me an idea for an episode of Thomas Ravenel’s new reality TV show, “Southern Charm,” which as I gather is about what happens to scions of old Charleston families in a time of general cultural decline and decadence.

There could be an entire episode in which T-Rav is trapped in his vehicle (possibly a white Escalade, as in this skit) because… wait for it… someone (possibly Yankees) have closed down his Daddy’s bridge on account of snow.

It could work… Hey, maybe it even happened…

Haley versus Deal on handling the snowstorm

The S.C. Democratic Party rather joyfully brings attention to this item that describes the back-and-forth between Nikki Haley and the office of her counterpart in Georgia, Nathan Deal.

The piece quotes this from the Charleston Regional Business Journal about Nikki’s complaints in a speech to a civic club about the mess in Atlanta:

Haley, who was in Charleston on Tuesday for a speech to members of the Historic Rotary Club of Charleston, said her brother was stuck on an interstate in Atlanta for 27 hours because of the snow and ice.

“While I was trying to fix South Carolina, I was furious at Georgia for not taking care of that,” she said.

She complimented South Carolina’s Department of TransportationDepartment of Public Safety and other law enforcement agencies, as well as the state’s National Guard, for their work during the storm.

“When you go through a storm, whether it’s a hurricane or winter storm, our team stands ready,” Haley said. “I am very proud of team South Carolina and the way they handled the storm.”…

And then it provides this response from the Georgia governor’s office:

Deal spokesman Brian Robinson offered this when confronted with Haley’s jab:

“To say South Carolina did a better job responding to the storm than Georgia is like saying Tennessee did a better job than Louisiana responding to Hurricane Katrina. We experienced completely different weather events.”

Nasty weather leads to blood shortage — so GIVE!

Got a call last week saying the Red Cross particularly needed my blood, because the bad weather across the country had led to shortages.

I gave on Thursday — my usual double-red cells donation, so I can’t give again for 16 weeks.

So it’s now up to y’all. Here’s a release making the same pitch that worked so well on me. Not that I wouldn’t have given anyway, as I do every 16 weeks when they call to tell me it’s time:

Red Cross calls for blood and platelet donations after severe winter weather impacts collections

Urgent need for blood donors with types O, A negative and B negative

COLUMBIA, S.C., Jan. 31, 2014 — As severe winter weather begins to subside, the American Red Cross is asking all eligible blood and platelet donors to help offset a weather-related shortfall in donations.


Since the beginning of January, winter storms and freezing temperatures have resulted in more than 600 Red Cross blood drive cancellations and nearly 20,000 uncollected blood and platelet donations. In the South Carolina Blood Services Region, severe winter weather forced the cancellation of 27 Red Cross blood drives, resulting in about 1,200 fewer than expected blood and platelet donations over the past four days.

“It’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits,” said Ryan Corcoran, Community CEO of the Red Cross South Carolina Blood Services Region. “Thanks to generous Red Cross blood and platelet donors, blood products were available for patients who still needed transfusions despite the weather. Now we invite those previously ‘frozen out’ from giving blood or platelets to come in soon.”

Platelet donors, as well as blood donors with the most in-demand blood types — O positive and negative, A negative and B negative — are urgently needed to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to offset the shortfall.

Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days.

Upcoming blood donation opportunities:


Feb. 1

9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Jack Oliver’s Pool and Patio3303 Forest Dr.Columbia, SC 29204

Feb. 4

11:00 a.m.- 4:00 p.m.

University of South Carolina-College of NursingRussell HouseColumbia, SC 29208

Feb. 5

7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

Palmetto Health Richland Medical Center3301 Harden St.Columbia, SC 29203

Feb. 5

10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Meadow Glen Elementary School510 Ginny LaneLexington, SC 29072

Feb. 5

10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Department of Motor Vehicles10311 Wilson Blvd.Blythewood, SC 29016

Feb. 6

10:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Palmetto Health Home Care1400 Pickens St.Columbia, SC 29202

Feb. 6

9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Dreher High School701 Adger RoadColumbia, SC 29205

Feb. 7

8:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

Pelion High School600 Lydia Dr.Pelion, SC 29123

Feb. 10

4:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m.

County Emergency Medical SVC407 Ball Park RoadLexington, SC 29073


Columbia Donation Center
2751 Bull St., Columbia, S.C. 29201

Blood donations:

Monday-Wednesday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Thursday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Friday and Saturday: 6 a.m.- 2 p.m.

Platelet donations:

Monday-Wednesday: 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Thursday: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday: 6 a.m.-1 p.m.

How to donate blood

Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

About the American Red Cross

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.orgor visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.                    


2014 Winter Weather Wimp Award goes to… SC Legislature

Aiee! A snowflake! Run away; run away! /Flickr photo by Pen Waggener

Aiee! A snowflake! Run away; run away! /Flickr photo by Pen Waggener

Dang, I hate it when this happens!

This morning over breakfast, I saw a Tweet that said the Legislature was canceling the whole week’s sessions because of “the possibility of snow,” or “the probability of inclement weather,” or something along those lines.

So on my way to my laptop, I came up with Winter Weather Wimp Award, and I dug the alliteration (especially that sneaky last “W” in “Award”), and I couldn’t wait to sit down, go grab that Tweet, and mercilessly mock it.

And I can’t find it. Either I misremembered it, or someone realized how ridiculous it sounded and took it down.

But in any case, the Legislature is shutting down for the whole week, even though not a flake has fallen.

So I’m giving them the award anyway. They earned it. And there was plenty of competition. Why, even the U.S. Army has surrendered at the threat of a flake — most of Fort Jackson will be closed.

And to think, just over 69 years ago (wow — has it been that long?), the U.S. Army was living in frozen foxholes in the Ardennes during the coldest European winter on record, and a previously unsuspected German army just rolled right over the 106th Infantry Division (capturing both my father-in-law and Kurt Vonnegut)… but did the Army quit? No. They cut off the advance and knocked the remaining Nazis right back into Germany, fighting them and the ice and snow at the same time.

That’s when men were men, even with frozen toes. Of course, I must confess, it was before my time. Me, I’ve got my L.L. Bean snow boots out in the truck, waiting to put them on and go crunching through the snow when it arrives, pretending that I’m hardy and indomitable…

Do some people really not feel the cold?

First the news: I stopped in at the Vista Starbucks this morning and did not buy any coffee.

I just wanted to see if they had any pound bags of Christmas blend beans left, which they did not.

Anyway, as I was turning into Lincoln from Gervais, I had to wait for a pedestrian couple to cross Lincoln in front of me, and I found myself staring at the man, who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. This wasn’t some stupid kid showing off how the elements didn’t bother him; it was a middle-aged guy. Yes, he was well over six feet tall and probably weighed around 300 lbs., but still — even at that size, doesn’t a body give off too much heat to walk around thus unprotected when it’s 42 degrees out?

Then inside, waiting in the queue to ask about the Christmas blend, a skinny young guy in front of me ordered iced coffee.

I’m telling myself that the man is one of those guys who inexplicably always wears shorts and T-shirts (and what’s that about — this fashion of grown men dressing like little boys?), and has nothing else in his closet, which serves him well much of the year in SC. And the kid, being an American, always drinks iced drinks, and it never occurs to him to order anything else.

Because the idea that these were conscious decisions is just too absurd…

Nice timing there, global warming researchers

I like the touch with the melting Earth, don't you?

I like the touch with the melting Earth, don’t you?

I had to smile this morning when I saw this story on the front page of The State, under the headline, “Climate change research: Southeast will swelter:

Poisoned seafood, scorched forests, flooded homes and crumbling bridges are just some of the problems the Southeast can expect as the earth’s climate changes and temperatures heat up in future decades, according to a study released Tuesday.

The 341-page report, based on the expertise of more than 100 scientists and researchers, is considered the most comprehensive study to date of how global warming is affecting the South – and what Southerners can expect…

I don’t know about you, but I was rather startled to learn, about 10 last night, that it was snowing outside in my yard. As also reported today in The State, under the headline, “Unusual November snow falls on Columbia.” And this morning, I almost, but not quite, wore my coat that I got for a winter trip to England three years ago, which I’ve only worn about twice since then. And when I got outside, I regretted that I had decided not to wear it.

Yeah, I know, the study’s about long-term trends, etc. But still, not great timing. Earlier in the day, it had been what? 70 or so? And then there were all those high winds as I was driving home last night, and behind them — snow.

It’s like somebody up there really didn’t like these researchers…