Correction: This post has been updated to correct the spelling of Kevin Sheehan’s name.
The calendar said we were six days into spring, but Tuesday was anything but sunshine and short sleeves. High school squads were forced to sit across the region, and old man winter didn’t let us forget about the wind.
It reminded us that spring still may be a faraway wonder, no matter the date.
And it felt so close. Just two weeks ago, beer gardens in D.C. were packed with millennials in shorts and slick sunnies. Earlier this month, National Park Service officials gleefully announced the peak bloom dates for the cherry blossoms.
This week, that was snatched away from us again, just as we were all waiting to exhale. Another reminder of how truly awful this winter has been.
How awful? In Northern Virginia, governments have spent more money than they could imagine on removal and potholes.
“It’s been incredible, it’s been a record-breaking winter,” said Joan Morris of the Virginia Department of Transportation. “2010, I didn’t think we would beat that. In terms of spending money, this has just been a long, painful winter.” During the winter of 2009-10, of Snowmaggedon fame, the tab was $130 million. This winter? “At least $175 million — I’m just speaking for Northern Virginia,” she said.
Alexandria schools have extended their days by 14 minutes to make up for the time lost. In a moment that was perhaps an allegory for the season, a man driving a snowplow on the wrong side of the road in Arlington is accused of causing a multi-car collision last week. Clearly, we need a break.
Indeed, the snow’s pace has been particularly brutal this year. There were 10 storms that accumulated snow the year of Snowmaggedon; there have been 13 this winter. Meanwhile, in Montgomery County parks, fields have been destroyed, and a champion 200-year-old gum tree was felled by heavy winds. Brutal.
It was as if spring decided to put the brakes on itself. In Montgomery, for one, high school practices were moved indoors. Elementary and middle schools use park fields for their after-school events, so those were called off, too.
“[It’s] unlike anything I’ve seen in the 24 years I’ve been here. It was relentless on the frequency, because it seems like once every three or four days we were getting something,” said David Buck of the Maryland Department of Transportation.
For kids, it’s particularly confusing, and one parent has decided that superstition might bring the sun back.
“My son’s birthday is next week, and he told me he thought his birthday was in spring. I was like, ‘It is.’ And then he said, ‘But it’s snowing,’ and I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I know. It’s not winter; it’s spring, I don’t know what to tell you.’ ” said Alicen Spaulding, 37, a National Institutes of Health fellow who lives with her husband and two kids in Chevy Chase, Md. A Minnesota native, she was wearing her parka with a fur-lined hood while having lunch in the International Square food court. “I’ve tried to put the snow shovel away about six times. So, I’d love it if weren’t on my front step. But I feel like now if I put it away, I’ll just jinx it, so I keep it out there now.”
Patrice Cameau, a mom of a 7-year-old, feels like her whole social circle has just been cooped up too long. “I think we’re over it. I think we’re just ready to have fun. When the weather broke this weekend, I felt like everybody was out,” the 30-year-old Fort Washington, Md., native said of the balmy temperatures just a few days ago. “I’m itching to go out of town, because we’re like, ‘Let’s just escape and be just done with it.’ So, [I’m] trying to find a trip, a getaway to sneak in. But at the end of the day, you make the best of it.”
Even weather geeks are tiring of spring’s delayed arrival.
Kevin Sheehan, a self-proclaimed “lessthan-amateur” meteorologist who provides weather reports for ESPN 980’s “Tony Kornheiser Show,” is totally over it. “I think even for snow-lovers, enough is enough. And I think we’re all ready for spring,” he said. “If you’re really into the kind of snow meteorology of it, it’s still kind of cool. But I’m ready for warm weather. I’m ready for golf.”
For all of that, there was certainly one question on everyone’s minds.
“I think in D.C. we’re probably done,” said Ian Livingston of The Post’s Capital Weather Gang. “D.C. hasn’t had substantial snow in April since the 1920s.”