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Snow, finally

>> Thursday, February 25, 2010

I've been lamenting for weeks that if it's going to be winter, it ought to really be winter.  Hooray for me, today is finally a proper Central New York winter day!  Too bad it was a work day.  Oh, how I miss snow days.

When we left the house this morning our sophisticated snow-o-meter read:

By the time I got home it read:

Meh.  At least it's something.  The roads on the way home were, as my husband so eloquently put it, "slicker than snot on a doorknob."  I like being able to properly utilize my snow tires.

It's still snowing like crazy, and that makes me happy.  The forecast is for a total of 12" to 15" of snow.  While that's admirable, even if we got that much it's still not enough for me.  I'd prefer a good old-fashioned whallop, like the blizzard of '93.

That, incidentally, was the year that I did the exchange in York, England, and by the time the March blizzard hit, the girl I exchanged with was at our house in Central New York.  She thought 43" of snow in 48 hours was pretty fun, especially since she'd only ever experienced a few inches at a time, and that rarely.  York doesn't get that much snow any more.  Here she is, in the incredible snow fort we built in my parents' front yard: 

There was a tunnel that stretched probably a good 6 feet through the snow, and at the end of it we built an igloo snow fort.  It was great fun, although the very thought of crawling through that tunnel now makes my pulse quicken and my chest tighten.  Sometime between then and now I've developed a mild case of claustrophobia.

My best friend also got snowed in at our house at the beginning of that storm, and it was a thrill to have the whole City of Syracuse shut down.  For a couple of days only emergency vehicles were allowed on the roads.  Do you know what that would mean for me now?  A snow day.  I'd kill for a snow day.  My office never, ever closes, but I figure "emergency vehicles only" would actually do it.  Too bad 15" of snow is patently insufficient to achieve "emergency vehicle only" status in snowy Syracuse.

In other fun storm memories, how about the 1998 ice storm?  The storm bypassed Central New York, but I was in college in Maine at the time, and most certainly experienced it in all its wrath.  When I called my parents on the second day of the storm, they couldn't believe the stories I told about the ice.  Syracuse just got rain, and apparently my parents hadn't been watching the news.

I don't recall how much ice there was, but these photos give you some idea.  Here's a good friend of mine trying to chisel out her vehicle.

She's definitely going to kill me for posting that photo of her talking, but it's the only photo I have showing the ice accumulation.  In the background you can see the trees bent double under the weight of the ice.  And to the left you can make out the thickness of the ice on her truck bed.  Now THAT was some ice!

That storm was really rather tragic as such things go, as there were something like 30 fatalities.  There were a lot of farm animal fatalities, too, because farmers could not get adequate water and ventilation to their livestock, and quite a number of barns also collapsed on animals.  The damage to power infrastructure in the affected areas was staggering, and some people were without power for nearly a month.

In Maine, my college was well equipped to handle power outages.  We were also right near one of the more major metropolitan areas (for Maine), so we got our power back quickly.  Friends, neighbors, and faculty weren't all so lucky.  I was actually off campus when the storm hit and couldn't get back to campus for a day or two.  The roads were impassable from so much ice and so many downed trees and power lines.  For days afterward, once I finally got back to campus, all day long I could hear the incessant sound of people trying to hack through the ice encasing their cars.  Lots of people broke windshields, mirrors and windows by hacking too hard at them.

After graduation, I worked in Northern New York for a few years, which also got hit by the ice.  I distinctly recall driving up Route 81 and along Route 11 and noticing the spiky appearance of the landscape.  So many trees had snapped off under the weight of all that ice that the North Country looked strangely pointy for a number of years afterward.

I wonder, how would we fare in a major storm at our house?  If we lost electricity, we'd still have the wood stove for heat, although without being able to run the fan on it we wouldn't be able to keep more than one room really warm.  Otherwise we would just lose the lights and the fridge - everything else should continue to work.  A small generator to run the fan on the wood stove and the fridge would be ideal, but they're so expensive we haven't invested in one yet.  But how much fun would it be to camp out - us two and our 5 fuzzy friends - in front of the fire for a few days?  Sounds like a grand adventure to me.

I shall have to wait for a different storm, however.  This one's just a little bit of snow fun, not one for the history books - at least not in Central New York.


Woodswalker February 25, 2010 at 9:23 PM  

You sound like a girl after my own heart: someone who loves BIG weather! Somehow we survive and have tales to tell for the rest of our lives. Like the 40-below day when my radiator froze and my breath turned to snow inside my car, or the 3 feet of snow on the roof got rained on and crashed in the bathroom ceiling while I lay in the tub, or our 5-year-old disappeared behind snowbanks when she set out to walk to school. Etc., etc., etc. Life in upstate NY. Ain't it grand? Thanks for this great post.

Carolyn H February 26, 2010 at 10:35 AM  

After four feet of snow on the ground, I'm kind of glad the snowy worst of this storm is bypassing me. The winds are extreme, though. Roads closing everywhere.

Sneaksleep February 26, 2010 at 10:48 AM  

When we got two feet of snow down here, I found myself wishing I had some kids visiting (or a young-hearted friend like you) so that I would have someone to make snow forts with. I don't think I ever saw your 6-foot tunnel back in '93!

Woodswoman Extraordinaire February 26, 2010 at 10:50 AM  

Woodswalker, what a great way to put it. I AM a fan of big weather! I've had my car radiator freeze, but missed out on the snow inside the car from my breath. The most dramatic I recall I've experienced was only the -30s (not quite to -40) but with whipping winds that drove the windchill to -70. That was incredible. And quickly dangerous! I don't envy you the collapsed roof or missing child, though.

Carolyn, I'd take more if nature would give it to me. I'm still angling for a storm good enough to give me a snow day! We still have March...

And Sneaksleep, I would LOVE to build a snow fort with you. Come on up! You know you miss the 'Cuse!

b. February 28, 2010 at 9:35 PM  

Nay, I'll not kill you. Merely tweak you on the nose. *tweak!* I'll have to dredge up some suitably embarrassing photos of yourself for ye olde Facebook, my friend. (Actually, I'm rather flattered that I made it on to this here blog of yours.)

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