Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘winter storm

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I wish there was a reason to believe I would never have to endure another storm like this one. It started nice enough, Wednesday, with a reasonable burst of good old garden variety spring snow.

Then the wind started to increase. That makes a big difference in any weather event. Wind takes everything up a few notches of intensity. It continued to snow, and the wind howled intensely, all night long. By morning we had 8 inches piled on the deck railing, in the small section blocked from the harshest gusts.

And harsh, the wind was becoming. The first thing I noticed when I got out of bed was a plastic roof panel on the end of the woodshed was flapping loose. The way the wind was raging, that panel would not last without some intervention.

We stepped out into the heart of the storm and struggled to fashion a quick, makeshift fix with rope and a couple heavy pieces of firewood. Meanwhile, the morning sky was growing darker and darker. I paused to clean the sticky, wind whipped snow on the front steps just as we got our first of several rounds of lightning and thunder.

It was scary to be outside. Actually, it was scary to be inside, too. The precipitation oscillated between snow, rain, sleet, and hail while the raging gales surged to frightening levels of intensity.

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The sunrise and stormy sky created a strange, ominous glow that seemed to color the snow on the ground. Later, we learned that the orange-brown hue was actually Texas dust carried here by high winds.

This was a really big storm.

I fear the extremes we keep experiencing are soon to become the norm.

I wish I could say, no thanks, and just opt out when these inland hurricanes blow, but I don’t think that choice is available.

Feels a bit like living in a Hollywood disaster film.

I don’t recall, do those tend to resolve with happy endings?

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Written by johnwhays

April 12, 2019 at 6:00 am

April Showers

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Yeah. These are April showers alright.

This storm arrived a little sooner than expected and produced a robust initial burst of snow, which chased me out of work early, in attempt to get well ahead of the inevitable afternoon weather-induced traffic disasters.

For the most part, I succeeded, needing only to slow down for a handful of congested sections, but not any backups that came to a complete stop.

My big day in court for jury duty today was foiled because the case settled at the last minute. That was good, and bad for me. Now I can get in another day of work, except it will need to be from home because the big storm is making the commute inadvisable.

At least I don’t need to try to navigate the scary drive to the courthouse in Ellsworth, either. My jury duty runs until April 30, unless I sit on a case, so a different trial remains an unknown possibility for a couple more weeks.

The short distance to the county courthouse was a drive I was willing to risk, if they hadn’t settled in advance, but the storm also created a threat of postponement that would have complicated my schedule, too.

The possibilities are almost too much for my little brain to comprehend all at once.

I am really looking forward to the arrival of May. It can’t possibly snow in May this year, can it?

And all these April showers will lead to blossoms of May flowers, no?

A guy can dream.

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Written by johnwhays

April 11, 2019 at 6:00 am

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