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Have any of you ever been "snapped" by a pack of chewing gum? Surely you remember those fake "chewing gum" practical jokes, usually sold in department stores. A seemingly real pack of gum was actually an empty box, concealing a "stick of gum" (a thin piece of cardboard with a spring-loaded snapping contraption). When the unsuspecting victim pulled out a piece of "gum", the spring would slap their finger rather effectively. The spring barely had any tension, so there was no real pain. But you could always get a good laugh.

Like many kids of my day, I enjoyed practical jokes. In my hometown, we had a department stored called "Mac's" (or "Mack's"- I don't recall the exact spelling). It was a great place to stock-up on practical jokes. There was a small display near the cash register that held every joke you could imagine, from the classic rubber chicken to the "exploding" fountain pen. One of my favorites was the "bug in the ice cube". It was an amazingly realistic plastic ice cube with a fake bug "frozen" near the center. I placed the cube in mom's tea one night. Needless to say, she was not amused.

Mac's was also a good place to stock-up on Halloween supplies. We all remember those plastic orange jack-o-lanterns with the black handle, commonly used for trick-or-treating. I was walking through a local pharmacy with my son a few nights ago, and he spotted one of these pumpkins sitting on the shelf. He was amazed, I was sentimental, so we purchased one and brought it home. But rather than filling the jack-o-lantern with candy, my son filled it with toy cars instead. Oh well.

Halloween is usually quiet from a weather standpoint in southeastern NC, and we certainly don't think about snow. Other parts of the country are not so fortunate. A rare October Blizzard pounded New England just in time for Halloween in 2011. This same area had already been hit hard by Hurricane Irene and the New England Tornado Outbreak earlier in the year. By the time the Blizzard departed on November 1st, up to 32 inches of snow had fallen across parts of Massachusetts. These totals were made worse by near hurricane-force wind gusts, which produced drifts that nearly buried some houses. At least 39 people were killed.

Even southeastern NC is not without October weather woes. October 2012 saw the touchdown of 3 tornadoes across Columbus and Bladen counties, and many residents remember the devastation of Category 4 Hurricane Hazel on October 15 (1954). But more times than not, October gives us drier days and comfortably warm temperatures. And then comes November.

 CHIEF METEOROLOGIST JERRY JACKSON IS NOW ON FACEBOOK! Learn about the "hurricanes" of Saturn, a rare tornado that hit Columbus County in the 1950's, and a little-known experiment conducted by our astronauts on the surface of the moon. So be sure to "like" Jerry on facebook, and post a few weather stories of your own!

By: Jerry Jackson