LOCAL VIEW —THE BLIZZARD BEGINS—

We’ve been through two solid days of blizzard hoop-la, which is in some ways a storm in and of itself. Not that I don’t believe in properly preparing for a snowstorm, but, after all, how much toilet paper can a man need? The supermarkets have been mobbed, and my wife has always had the good sense to avoid such mayhem. She holds the view that shopping is at its most peaceful, a day after a storm.

Sunday was my day of rest. I was fairly stiff and sore from all the work of the week before, and had a handy excuse in that it was the day of our dwindling church’s annual meeting. We had some practical details to attend to, considering there are practically more committees than there are people. All in all the mood was upbeat, as it seems the crash is over and we can get on with rebuilding. I pigged out during the pot luck, as I always do when there are twelve recipes to sample, and, cradling my distended abdomen in my arms, headed home to digest, and promptly fell asleep.

The arctic front had nudged past during the day, with flurries in the morning and then clearing skies, and by the time I did the chores at twilight at the farm it was sharply colder. Temperatures had been up in the twenties in the morning, with is mild for a January morning, but they were now falling through the teens. By Monday morning they were down to 2.3° (-16.5° Celsius). The departing “warm snow” had become a strong gale over Labrador, and had dragged down an arctic high pressure in its wake, and that high pressure was forming a nice “block” in the path of the advancing Alberta Clipper,  which was being shunted much further south than usual. (Click maps, or open to new tabs, to enlarge.)

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Looking at the above map and radar shot, there is no sign of a secondary storm off the coast of Georgia, beyond some clouds bubbling up southeast of the Carolinas, so I think credit is due to the meteorologists who were a bit frantic. (As I checked one site I noted a fellow who usually is rather nattily dressed was wonderfully disheveled and sloppy-looking.)

Not that I looked like Price Charming. I’d had my day of rest, and was busy loading the porches and woodboxes both at home and at the farm to the limit, as well as talking to parents at the Childcare (along with my wife) to make sure none would be left in the lurch if we closed down when the blizzard hit. Even the lone parent who works at a hospital is considered “non-essential” and is staying home, so, for the first time in its history, our Childcare will be closed due to weather. And for what? For a storm that didn’t yet exist…

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….until it did exist.

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Not that I had much time to look at maps. I snatched glances, as I rushed about trying to get things done that I usually do on Tuesday and Wednesday, including some end-of-the-month payments and the mortgage at the bank. It was hard not to linger places, and join in with the eager storm gossip. The Superbowl and “Deflategade” seemed forgotten.

I did linger just a little at the local garage, to thank them for fixing my middle son’s car for only $447.00. The tow-truck driver, who swooped in like a vulture after my son bumped into the car in front of him last week, had told my son the car had $3000.00 worth of danages, and was only worth $2000.00 according to the “blue book”, but he would be kind and rather than charging my son for towing, he’d give him $100.00 for the hulk.  He looked downright nasty when I said we could do better, and had it towed back to town, but it turns out I was actually right, for a change.

However now I had three children’s cars to deal with. My youngest son is at college, and my younger daughter just escaped this blizzard to fly down to Florida to help out my mother-in law. Where to put all these cars?

We slithered them up the back hill, with my middle son’s car in front and most accessible, when the blizzard is over. It was a bit difficult, as my younger daughter’s tires are bald. In fact my middle son got a running start and piled it into a snowbank, where it was stuck for a while, until we burned the tires down through the snow to the ground. Then I took over and got a running start, and for some strange reason I zipped up the hill far enough and straight enough to park it correctly.  Amazing! Right twice on the same day!

There was no room for my eldest daughter’s car, but she was away at work, trying to get three days work done in one. We had the delightful granddaughter, and midst all my frantic activity I got to give my wife a break, and just hang about with the toddler, who has only learned to toddle this month.  The kid did one thing that that I found sort of touching. She toddled to the chair in front of my computer, patted it, and smiled at me. So I scooped her up, and we checked out the weather maps together. (I think she’s the only female who has ever approved of me zoning out at a computer.)

The entire time I kept glancing at the sky, trying to pretend I was back in the past, and had no weather bureau to inform me, and had to rely on myself to sniff out the aroma of storm.

To be quite honest, there was little to indicate we were in for it. At sunrise there was very little redness, though I did note a gloom in the opposite direction which I associate with oncoming weather, though not necessarily a blizzard. The morning was sunny, with increasing clouds, but there was no obvious indication (to me) that an extra-special storm was on its way.  Except for one thing, which I did note and park in the back of my mind.

Late in the morning, when the sky was still mostly clear except for high, silver cirro-cumulus drifting over from the west, there was an abrupt veil of gray streaming over from the southeast. It was like when fog first starts moving in on a summer coast, but far faster. Too thin to call “scud”,  and only lasting around fifteen minutes, this gray veil rapidly streamed over and slightly dimmed the sun, and then was gone. I think it must have been some sort of meteorological shock-wave, as the the storm far to the south first started to explode.

Other than that there was little to note, beyond increasing clouds, both low and high, as happens before every storm.(Not that I was given enough time to lie on my back and study the sky, in my opinion.) As it grew gray in the afternoon the wind began to lightly waft from the northeast, but it does that for small storms as well.

Very briefly, around noon, a few snowflakes fell despite the fact the sky was still showing streaks of clear blue, and the sun still shone low in the south as a silver smear midst gray alto-stratus.  Maybe that was a sign, but mostly people used the few flakes as an excuse for jokes about the oncoming storm. “Arrgh!!! It has started!!!”

As evening came on early, under a charcoal and lowering sky, the first real light flakes began to fall. After over-feeding the goats, (in case they would have to wait for breakfast,) my last chore was to top off my truck’s gas tank. There was a surprising line of cars at the gas station. People were not only filling their tanks, but lots of red, plastic five-gallon-jugs. People must have been listening to the Boston stations. Boston is not used to getting this sort of blast, and often get rain when we get snow. Also we are farther from the blizzard, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we only got 16 inches (41 cm), which isn’t all that unusual, up in these hills.

I will not start filling up extra jugs with gasoline until there is a threat of freezing rain. The only other time I am especially worried is when storm follows storm, and the snow banks get higher and higher. However this is only the first big storm, so I’m not fretting yet.

The real bother will be the wind. When winds get up near gale force and the snow is powder, it is a waste of energy to try to snow-blow drives early, as the drifting snows just fill in the dents. Also, if you are lucky, the wind may scour down and clean your driveway for you. (If you are unlucky your poor snow-blower faces a whopper drift, up to your nose.) Also my face is wrinkled enough without subjecting my skin to blowing snow and wind chills below zero. The sane thing to do is to feed the fires and cuddle the wood-stove.

My elder daughter made it in just as the wind and snow began to pick up a little after dark. She squeezed her car as far out of the way as she could, and then came in for the mother-and-child-reunion which is always delightful to witness. And then we could get down to the serious business of eating, cooking, and staying indoors.

Unfortunately I was so weary I fell asleep as soon as I ate, and missed a lot. The silver lining is that now I am awake with insomnia, and can watch the radar show the blizzard explode.

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I just stood a while out on the porch. The flakes are going every direction but down, out by the streetlight, and the pines are roaring on the hill. I know it is a big storm when I don’t only hear the pines on the near hill behind us, but also on the far hill, across the road.

Yup, it is a big one. Hope is slim, but when I look at the map below I hope it shows a lot of energy east, perhaps heading out to sea.

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In any case, it is here for the moment.

 

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