Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘winter storm

Almost Spring

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We’ll get there eventually. In a spattering sleet yesterday, I finished toiling away on the giant winter’s-worth pile of manure in the paddock to stir some fresh oxygen into the middle where there are signs of productive microorganism activity. The chore has been on hold, awaiting enough of a thaw to make reasonable progress possible.

On Thursday, the temperature reached 50°(F) under a gray sky. It was almost enough to inspire hope, except the forecast threatening another serious blast of winter wind and snow loomed large enough hold us fast in the beat-down of prolonged Arctic conditions.

I took a picture out the front door on Thursday afternoon, then again on Friday morning in a downpour of graupel, and finally, an hour ago.

They tell us this is just the beginning. Oh, joy.

The calendar says spring, but the weather just laughs and says, “Whatever.”

I’ll say, “Almost.”

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Written by johnwhays

April 14, 2018 at 8:56 am

Wind Wins

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There is no question about who has the upper hand in our never-ending battle against the wind. I figure we are running about 2-to-1 against, between us and the wind in the years we’ve been here.

One of the more spectacular fails we experienced happened in 2014 when my first version of our wood shed was tossed over by a particularly blustery thunderstorm.

We have lost more trees and limbs to wind than I can count.

The winter wind has created havoc on our driveway numerous times, filling it with drifted snow that piles up multiple times the amount that actually falls out of the sky.

Monday’s blizzard of snow and wind racked up another victory over our feeble attempts to protect ourselves and our animals from the ravages of the gusts.

Cyndie reported that upon opening one of the doors to the barn yesterday morning, she needed to shovel a drift… on the inside.

The chicken coop suffered a more evenly distributed coating of snow on the inside. My ingenious design of the mesh ceiling beneath the roof panels was no match for blowing snow at the angle and rate mother nature dished out for hours on end.

I asked Cyndie what the chickens thought about the situation.

She reported a cacophony of upset hens.

I guess I understand their angst, after our forcibly removing them from the expansive barn (despite the one drift) to the extremely permeable confines of their small coop.

I bow to the prowess of the wind.

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Written by johnwhays

March 7, 2018 at 7:00 am

Different Bad

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We thought Sunday morning was bad, what with its dose of a slippery ice-glaze over every surface turning navigation from the house to the barn into a risky balance-testing feat.

Yesterday’s winter storm was very different. School districts around the region started announcing closures before bedtime on Sunday night! Since we were watching the Academy Awards show, it was impossible to miss the added drama of concern about the weather, as it constantly rolled across the bottom of the screen.

The number of school districts grew with each pass of the alphabetically sorted scroll. When the names of the biggest districts in the state showed up, it lent significant credence toward the probability I should plan to avoid trying to travel to work.

I hemmed and hawed over my options, ultimately making the decision before going to sleep. I would stay home.

After sleeping past my normal alarm time for a work day, I woke to discover I could have made the drive in if I’d gotten up like usual. I knew that was a possible result when I decided the night before to stay home, so I wasn’t too frustrated with myself at that point. The real concern was going to be the drive home.

Since I didn’t drive in, the plan was that I wouldn’t need to worry about the drive home.

Except, the real onset of the accumulating snow ended up happening late enough in the day that I could have worked a full shift, after all. I would have been home before things really began to get hazardous.

It was odd having stayed home from work all day when the view out the window looked so harmless. Postings on the local Live Weather Updates site of our public radio network kept warning that the onset was still coming, just delayed a bit from original guesses.

Their warnings ultimately proved totally justified.

Before the precipitation, the wind was gusting to startling degrees. Cyndie reported hearing a tree falling, but wasn’t sure about the location. I was a little nervous about venturing through the woods to look for it while the gusts were still raging.

The snow finally showed up for us around 3:30, and by 4:00, it was already hard to see beyond our property borders. We were suddenly isolated from the world, and being battered by unrelenting swarms of stabbing snowflake blades.

I succeeded in making it to the mailbox and back with Delilah, but she looked like she thought the expedition was a ridiculous idea, gladly retreating indoors when we made it back to the house. Cyndie was tending to the horses and chickens, and I figured she would be in shortly behind us.

Ten minutes later, I looked up from what I was doing and realized the visibility outside had dropped down to almost zero. The snow was coming so thick and wind-blown, I became concerned about how Cyndie was coping. I decided to gear up and go check. This wasn’t just bad weather, this was wicked!

Careful not to blindly pass her, in case she came up a different route than I went down, I squinted for signs of her outline. She was at the chicken coop. The hens had jumped one of the half doors into the barn and didn’t want to return to the coop. Who could blame them? She was hand carrying them back.

I helped to get the last two and we closed up the coop and then the barn doors.

Had I driven to work, I was planning to stay overnight at her parent’s house. Given how crazy, and sometimes even a bit scary it got yesterday afternoon and evening, I’m glad I stayed home.

Regardless how bad it wasn’t earlier in the day, it was worth it so that Cyndie didn’t have to face all this bad weather drama alone.

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Modern Convenience

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It was sunny and 60-some degrees at our place yesterday. If it weren’t for the modern convenience of accurate weather forecasting giving us several days warning of an impending snowstorm, I would be completely clueless about what is headed our way. By Friday morning, the view of our property won’t look like this again for a while.

img_1941eI will not be surprised if the alignment of the storm moving in this evening brings us around a foot of snow, based on the models published by the weather services.

Such a significant contrast of weather in just over a day is something I would not be able to comprehend happening without the present day wisdom, and data gleaned from satellites and radar images. My intuitive senses for interpreting the weather are far too dull to perceive that the warm sunshine yesterday afternoon was so quickly going to become a distant memory.img_1925e

At the same time, it is still February, after all. It’s supposed to be wintery weather. So I am well prepared for whatever cold and blowing snow may arrive. I have my special leg warmer to keep me comfortable while chronicling the brutal challenges I face when plowing and shoveling the oodles of snowflakes inbound on our position.

Pequenita seems to like napping on my legs when I stretch out. It’s cute, but can’t be all that comfortable for her, and it tends to lock down my posture long enough that numbness sets in.

Maybe she is sensing the oncoming storm and wants to keep me safe and warm in preparation for doing battle when it comes time to dig out.

In the mean time, I hope to spend most of the day Friday in front of a warm fire, watching the flakes fly outside the windows.

See ya later, warm sunshine.

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Written by johnwhays

February 23, 2017 at 7:00 am

Not Fun

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You know that part about me driving multiple times to Cyndie’s parent’s house for Christmas events? Didn’t happen. Chalk this one up as “Worst. Christmas. Ever.” for me. At least I didn’t have any problems with trying not to fall asleep behind the wheel.

A dastardly nasty spell of weather foiled my best intentions. We experienced sleet, rain, freezing fog, lightning, thunder, heavy rain, and as a cherry on top, high winds with scarily intense gusts. My Christmas was spent home alone. I might as well have been a character in the movie.

Knowing the impending freezing rainstorm would wreak havoc on roads, we headed out on Christmas eve prepared for Cyndie to stay the night at her folks’ house. I drowsily made my way home through the beginnings of the freezing mist on Saturday night so I could take care of Delilah and the horses.

Sunday morning dawned with a perfect glazing over everything, quickly convincing me I wouldn’t be trying to drive to the cities for the grand gift exchange extravaganza that Cyndie’s family executes with incredible flair. Actually, it was Delilah who convinced me, as she did an immediate slipping-on-a-banana-peel spill off the front steps before she realized the hazardous conditions.

I could have tried to warn her better, but we all know she wouldn’t have listened.

The horses were way out in the hay-field, happily grazing through the snow, so I left them out in the mist for much of the day. The temperature actually climbed a bit, melting some of the glaze by afternoon, but you couldn’t see the difference between frozen and not, which made it doubly dangerous.

I navigated my way around our property by changing my gait to something that looked like I had aged several decades over night. Even with that adjustment, there were still frequent moments of heart pounding panic as I’d catch myself from going ass over teakettle.

By the time it had turned to real rain and become obvious that I needed to get the horses inside for the night, I was fighting both them and the elements to accomplish the task. They stayed out in the field while I prepared their evening feed in the stalls. They made me trudge out in the soaking wet to guide them back to the barn.

The wind howled something awful all night long, making my longed-for uninterrupted night’s sleep an impossibility. At some point around zero dark thirty I figured out the spooky clunk that kept occurring was from a bird feeder hitting the house outside the bedroom. I wasn’t about to get out of bed to do anything about it at that hour, and in that wind, so I just had to get used to the sound enough to ignore it and get back to something close to restful sleep.dscn5630e

Yesterday morning presented with a diabolical combination of standing water (much of it hidden beneath cover of snow), freezing temperatures, and continued strong winds. The slopes around the barn were coated with very slippery ice. I tried spreading sand over them before offering Legacy a chance to bring his herd out for the day. He stopped and surveyed the surroundings, put his nose down to the icy surface, and then turned around to lead me right back into his stall.

They would spend the day indoors.

Cyndie ended up spending another night at her parent’s house. Delilah did well with the crazy weather, too confused by the inclusion of thunder in December to even bark at it. She happily agreed with me to cut our walks to the shortest distance necessary. She and Pequenita became my silent companions, waiting out what nature was serving up, clueless to the joyous family gatherings I was missing.

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She braved the gales with me to inspect the drainage ditch that is backed up a bit with a mixture of snow and water.

It’s going to take some time to get back to decent snow conditions around here, but probably not as long as it will take for me to quit moping about my sad fate this holiday. Only 363 days until I get a chance to replace this year’s Christmas memories with new ones.

Here’s hoping we end up with better weather next year.

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Written by johnwhays

December 27, 2016 at 7:00 am

Snow’s Here

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I drove to work in the morning yesterday on wonderfully dry pavement and then left for home a couple of hours earlier than usual, when the snow storm started to make an impact. The trip home took about twice as long as usual, and involved several instances of crawling along at 35-40 mph on snow-packed roads.

I am not complaining. I was very lucky. One of the first spots where I encountered a lot of brake lights was on the I-94 bridge over the Mississippi near the University of Minnesota. Just beyond several cars ahead of me, I spotted a vehicle out of the normal position in line. Closer inspection revealed it was facing the wrong way, but moving to correct itself to get reoriented while everyone else waited.

In a blink, we were all on our way again, and as I passed over the spiraling design made by the tires of the small SUV, I was shocked that no other cars had been struck. That spinout covered all 4 lanes of traffic, yet no damage was done.

During the rest of the trip home, I only saw two scenes of the aftermath of multi-car crashes surrounded by flashing lights of emergency responders. Both instances were in the lanes coming from the other direction, and the backups I endured were merely a function of people slowing to gawk.

The worst part of the trip was when my “Check Engine” light came on again, after almost a week of thinking we had solved that mystery. After replacing two different sensors, we discovered the fuel filter was long overdue for being changed. It seemed like that had done the trick, until today.

I drove straight to the shop and they checked the code. Same message as before. I had them reset the warning light again and plan to see how long it will go this time, before I turn it over for more experimentation.

I have other things on my mind right now, like clearing mounds of snow from paths, doorways, and one long driveway. I put a little of the old acquired knowledge to use last night and went out to plow the main driveway in the middle of the storm. That way I will only have half as much snow to clear this morning, before I venture out to see how the roads are.

Hoping I will be able to average a little more than 35-40 mph today.

Here is the driveway, before and after, as of about dinner time last night…

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The view out the bedroom door…

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Written by johnwhays

February 3, 2016 at 7:00 am

Cyndie Returns

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How smart are dogs? Ours picked up on my activity right away when I got home from work yesterday. Sure, I dropped a few verbal hints that Momma was coming home, but I think she could tell by the way I was putting furniture back in place and converting my temporary man-cave back to our shared living space.

rt21wrn2Cyndie has actually returned a day earlier than her original plan, due to the winter storm that is expected to be in full swing this afternoon, around the time her flight was supposed to arrive. She moved it up 24 hours and arrived without hassle last night, making the drive from the cities on dry pavement.

At one point last night, I found Delilah standing with her nose up against the door to the garage, clearly expecting it to open any minute. Maybe she heard something. I don’t know about that, but Cyndie was still over an hour away at that point.

It was a pretty fun reunion when Cyndie stepped in the door. Delilah was incredibly happy, almost as much as Cyndie.

DSCN4401eWe have had enough warmth recently to melt most of the snow off our driveway. I took a picture to use as a comparison to what it will look like after the 8-12 inches of predicted new snow stops falling.

I’m going to stay at work as long as possible today, hoping to head home before snow accumulation begins to create traffic backups. Unfortunately, they have moved up the time that precipitation is expected to start to 9 a.m. today, so driving could be impacted long before the afternoon rush hour.

If the depth of snow and strong winds lives up to what is being forecast, there is a strong possibility that I will stay home from work on Wednesday.

All these possibilities are a lot less stressful for me now that Cyndie is home.

I think Delilah feels the same way.

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Written by johnwhays

February 2, 2016 at 7:00 am