Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘winter storm

Saving Daylight

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It’s that 23-hour day again. We all get cheated out of a normal hour of sleep in order to feel like there is more daylight today than there was yesterday. Whatever.

Living with, and caring for animals, is one way to notice how laughable our arbitrary adjustment of clock hours is to nature.

Last week, the chickens had already responded to the increased hours of daylight by restarting their egg production. Yesterday, Cyndie cooked up “home-laid” eggs for breakfast again. Even without a lot of live-bug protein in their diets yet, our free-range hens sure produce delectable eggs.

So, the storm blew in yesterday with gusto. Strong winds toppled the multiple-unit Martin house. Neither of us noticed if any residents were displaced. The activity there has rarely been visible, even though there is some nest material inside.

Just like predicted, we received rain for a few hours before it changed over to snow, so the overall accumulation appears to be a more reasonable 5-ish inches (and still falling), instead of twice that, or more, that it could have been.

There’s not enough light out yet to show you how gorgeous the new snow looks, stuck to all the trees, but we’ll have our cameras out while plowing and shoveling all day today, so I expect there will be some scenic shots to share eventually.

In the mean time, here is a shot that Cyndie took which I adore:

I asked her why her snowshoe trail took on the whimsical “s” curves, and she said that she was looking down as she trudged along, and for that last stretch had resorted to simply following Delilah’s footprints in the deep snow.

I guess it’s a visual of where the most canine-alluring scents were wafting in the air on that trail-breaking trek.

Happy Daylight Saving Time to those territories who make the adjustment.

Yawn.

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Good Use

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We made good use of the gorgeous day we were granted yesterday, before today’s winter storm arrives. I made sure we had plenty of dry wood inside for long hours in front of the fireplace, watching the flakes fly outside.

Do you remember the picture I posted last week of our labyrinth hidden beneath the blanket of a season’s worth of snow? We decided it was time to do something about that. We are doing a lot of heavy thinking lately, and the meditative stroll along the labyrinth path will be a welcome resource for deep contemplations.

Even though it may get buried by another foot of snow today and tomorrow, at least we will have a noticeable impression to guide us in the days that follow.

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We think Cyndie’s phone, which captured the image of me on the left, probably had a foggy lens when she pulled it out of her pocket. There is quite a difference in quality of the pictures we took of each other with our phones.

Figuring out the turns and leaving appropriate space between rows took a lot of mental effort with so few landmarks visible. When our effort was completed, we were rewarded by a spirit-lifting visit from a pair of bald eagles who circled multiple times, very low, just above the tree tops.

I got the impression they approved of our effort. The thought did occur to me while we were carving out the well-defined path, that the pattern of the 11-circuit Chartres labyrinth would look great from the sky.

Okay, let it snow today. We made good use of the calm before the storm that yesterday provided.

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Written by johnwhays

March 9, 2019 at 10:17 am

It’s Possible

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Is it possible that the rising global air temperatures support higher amounts of water vapor aloft which can add fuel and intensity to localized weather events? Anecdotal evidence from my experiences certainly aligns with that line of thinking.

Today, we are granted a calm before the expected weekend punch of significant new accumulations of heavy, wet snow. It’s hard to know what to do with such a day. We don’t feel inclined to start any new projects while consumed by this looming distraction of an “other shoe about to drop.”

Who can concentrate when meteorologists are tossing out phrases like, “thunder snow!”?

“This storm looks likely to produce convective snow bursts Saturday afternoon and evening across southern Minnesota. That could mean thunder snow.

Snowfall rates may reach 2″ per hour for a few hours Saturday. Things could get crazy with lightning, thunder and snow coming down incredibly hard. If that happens, most of the accumulation could occur within just a few hours Saturday afternoon into evening.”

https://blogs.mprnews.org/updraft/2019/03/game-on-major-winter-storm-likely-this-weekend/

 

This storm sounds so intimidating, there was even a Minnesota Judge who issued a restraining order prohibiting any more snow in the state, “especially within Hennepin County.”

Of course, he was clear to communicate that this did not prohibit the storm from impacting Wisconsin, Iowa, or North and South Dakota. I suppose he did not want to seem to be ruling beyond his jurisdiction.

Weather forecasts being the educated guesses that they are, computer models show a possibility for some of Saturday’s precipitation to fall as rain, south of an indeterminate rain/snow dividing line. The restraining order doesn’t appear to include any provision for restricting rainfall.

Rain can really spoil a good snowscape, but if we get some of that, it will, at the very least, reduce the amount of plowing I would need to do.

Anything is possible.

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Written by johnwhays

March 8, 2019 at 7:00 am

Successive Challenges

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Never assume. Sunday night, I neglected to go outside to verify the degree of drifting in the driveway, after the day of strong wind. From the house, we could see the tops of trees swaying dramatically, but by afternoon, there was very little in the way of obvious snow still being swept up by the gusts.

We stayed in and watched the Oscars.

It turns out, drifts grow even when the blowing snow isn’t visibly obvious.

I got up at my usual work-day zero-dark-thirty and did my routine of planks and stretches, then dressed and headed out the door into the predawn darkness.

From the house to just beyond the hay shed, there was no change from when I plowed the day before. As I climbed the hill before the road, the cleared portion of driveway narrowed.

Drifts can be really deceiving. Driving toward them, it’s difficult to discern whether it will be soft, or packed solid. It can also be hard to tell whether they are going to be higher than the clearance of the car.

Since my Crosstrek has been performing so superbly thus far this winter, I forged ahead in hopes of breaking apart the drifts just enough so Cyndie would be able to drive her car out after me. She needed to leave early to lead some training for staff at a school in St. Paul.

It turned out that the drifts had grown significantly since I plowed, they were packed into a very firm density, and they were just tall enough to rub the bottom of my car. Cyndie would never be able to get out in her car, even if I broke through all the way to the road.

Didn’t really matter. I couldn’t break through. Near the top of the hill, forward progress stopped. I tried rocking forward and back, but the car-length I achieved backward only moved me deeper into the drift. I got the car stuck.

I would need to plow. Of all times to be forced to plow, this was really inconvenient. It was dark, I wanted to get on the road to beat traffic, and the air temperature was -5°F with a windchill around -35°F. I was dressed for work, not for being outside.

I intended to make this quick, but circumstances did not allow. The ATV wouldn’t start. The battery was sapped by the cold temperature. I popped the seat off and found the battery was covered by a mouse nest made out of pilfered bits of fiberglass insulation. Nice.

The battery charger was inside the frozen truck, so I had to wrestle with getting the doors open and trying to unwind the inflexible cables. With the jump, I got the ATV started and headed out to clean up just the bare minimum to get our cars through.

The drifts were too dense for the relative light weight of the ATV to push through. I ended up lifting the blade and “paddling” forward on the deep treads of the winter tires, just to break up the drifts. When I got down to the road, I could see that someone had driven by and smashed through a huge drift by our mailbox.

The road was almost as bad as our driveway.

I successfully made several difficult trips back and forth over the hill, each time trying to move a fraction more snow with the blade, but I was a long way from plowing it clean enough for Cyndie’s car to make it out.

Then the cable that lifts the plow blade broke. At that point, there was nothing else left to go wrong.

I blame the frigid temperature. It adds difficulty to everything you try to do. At least the sunrise provided an entertaining backdrop.

I was close enough to being done when the cable broke that Cyndie and I were able to shovel a path out of what remained of the busted up drift. The clearing we achieved was so narrow, I could hear the side of her car rubbing the snow as she drove through the skinniest section, but we both made it out in the end!

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Written by johnwhays

February 26, 2019 at 7:00 am

Snow Everywhere

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This story holds no surprises. There was so much snow to be cleared from our driveway and paths and roof top, that it consumed our attention from the moment we woke up yesterday. We are now dealing with the most snow since we moved here in 2012.

We are devising new ways to pile snow, finding new places to push it, and sacrificing non-essential spaces that were previously cleared. When you can no longer lift it over the pile, you start pushing it up against the pile.

Preparations actually started last week, when we received around 9 inches on Wednesday. I had to plow in such a way as to make room for what we already knew was coming this weekend.

Saturday, we tried building a snow screen out of the netting of an old hay feeder bag and three t-posts, to soften the blow our mailbox suffers when the township plow zooms past.

It didn’t work.

Well, maybe it worked a little bit. The mailbox still popped off the base, but now that I think about it, instead of flying far into the ditch, it just flopped over behind the post.

It didn’t start snowing until after dark Saturday night, but Cyndie said it was coming down pretty heavily when she took Delilah out for her last walk of the night. When I got up in the wee hours of the morning, the wind was whipping the snow to the point it completely covered the screen door to the deck so I couldn’t guess how much new snow had fallen to that point.

By the time daylight arrived, new snow had stopped falling. The remaining flakes still airborne were being blown by the gale force winds, occasionally forming mini-tornado spirals, and carving sweeping waves of curving drifts.

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I’m pretty sure we are going to remember the record-setting amount of snow that fell in February, 2019 for many years.

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Written by johnwhays

February 25, 2019 at 7:00 am

Giving Up

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To heck with keeping up, I’m ready to give up. The snow-pocalypse of February wins. I can only endure so much, and it turns out, unending accumulation of plow-able amounts of snow in close succession is more than my fragile mind can handle.

It takes a certain mental discipline to clear the quarter-mile of driveway from the house to the road, then around the hay shed and in front of the barn, when the snow is falling fast enough to cover your progress as fast as you make it.

That’s alright. After the year when I waited until the snow was absolutely stopped before plowing, and there was too much for even my big tractor to clear, I learned that it would be smarter to plow whenever we get 5 or 6 inches, even if it was still snowing.

But it is very rare that it would take more than two sessions of plowing. Until now.

I am officially drained of my stoic Northland resilience. Is this one of the ways that zombies are created? I am but a shell of my former self. In the fading light of day, I found myself stumbling up the driveway from the barn, dragging a shovel behind me, while the snow continued to fall.

There is no space to push more snow. At the end of the day yesterday, the wind started to pick up and create drifts. Of all times for us to need more gas, it happens in the heart of a big snowstorm.

I stayed home from work yesterday, and the highlight of the day for me was that I wasn’t driving my car on snowy roads. Then I needed gas. Out I ventured onto the drifted roads in my car, frowning.

This battle all played out after I had spent the early part of the day raking snow off the roof, and then needing to shovel the giant mound from our front steps.

It was exhausting work, but when I finished, it seemed like the snow was letting up, inspiring me to move on to the plowing. I even saw a glimpse of a bright yellow circle in the sky, through the clouds for a few seconds.

It didn’t last. Halfway through plowing, the rate of snowfall picked up dramatically. That was pretty much the point that my brain threw in the towel.

The rest of the plowing was devoid of my usual attention to detail.

There are options that would serve to remedy my problem of having nowhere to push more snow: a snowblower attachment, for one.

Visiting Cyndie’s parents in Florida for several months is another possibility. I wonder if they would mind if we brought all our animals along.

I think the horses and chickens are all about as done with falling snow as I am.

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Written by johnwhays

February 13, 2019 at 7:00 am

Keeping Up

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While we were risking our lives to drive across the Twin Cities in heavy snow for the funeral on Sunday, our property back home was getting buried by another plowable layer. That meant, when I got home from work yesterday, I needed to plow and shovel a few hours worth of snow to get the place cleaned up.

Normally, this is a very rewarding endeavor, but this time it felt a little insane. Expending all this energy to clear snow when even more is imminent. By the end of the day today, our landscape will likely look as if I hadn’t done anything, if the passing precipitation lives up to what was predicted.

It reminds me of a humorous thought a friend once expressed. It went something like this: “I dusted once. A week later, all the dust had returned. I won’t fall for that again.”

As fast as we clear away fallen snow this February, more falls to replace it. My heart wants to just wait until it stops snowing for a few days and then plow. My mind knows the folly of such a plan. The more often I plow, the easier each following effort will be.

There are a couple of challenges created by these repeating waves of significant snowfalls. It is getting harder and harder to clear the snow because the piles are growing mighty tall, and the deep snow on our roof is leading to ice dams on the eaves.

That second one is a compound problem, actually. I can pull the snow down off of the roof with a rake, but then I need to shovel it somewhere. That means I have to throw it up and over the tall piles that already exist.

Just what I need. More shoveling!

I can’t keep up as it is.

It’s almost like the early summer growing season, when the grass grows so fast that it needs cutting the day after I just finished cutting it.

We are a land of two main seasons: shoveling snow or mowing grass.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2019 at 7:00 am