Relative Something

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

Posts Tagged ‘winter weather

This Weekend

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I’ve run out of things to say about this record-setting string of February snow storms. I refer you to my favorite weather blog, MPR’s Updraft, for a description of the next wave expected to dictate my weekend activities.

This efficient snow producer comes with wind this time. Blowing and drifting snow will be an issue Saturday night and Sunday. Warnings run all the way to the Mexico border in southeast Arizona.

https://blogs.mprnews.org/updraft/2019/02/two-act-snow-system-for-minnesota-this-weekend

NOAA

Last night, I re-plowed the drifted edges of the driveway to open it back to full width, and cleaned up the snow rubble left by the township plow, in preparation for doing it all again on Saturday.

While I was down by the road, I re-attached our mailbox that had been blown off its base for the umpteenth time by the powerful snow wash that rolls off that big plow blade.

I wish my little replica blade on the ATV could throw snow like that beast can. Would it hurt him to slow down some as he reaches my driveway, to take some of the oomph out of that blast of snow?

Apparently, it would. He shows me no mercy.

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Written by johnwhays

February 22, 2019 at 7:00 am

Best Part

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I might be putting my “great-north-winter-lover” membership in jeopardy, but the best part of my day yesterday was the six minutes when it almost stopped snowing. That pressing feeling of concern over whether the roof tops of all our buildings will cope, how we will ever get our paths cleared again, and if the Grizzly ATV and its aging plow blade will endure the abuse I’ve been putting them through, lifted just long enough to allow some precious moments of relief.

Then it was back to the harsh reality of plowing and shoveling snow up against piles that are already so tall that we are barely able to add to them, while new flakes quickly covered up the progress being made.

Walking Delilah anywhere other than on the driveway now requires snowshoes. Even then, the blowing snow has filled in many of our previous paths to the point of oblivion, and I had to abort a plan of trekking around the outside of the hayfield, because it was too much work fording the deep snow.

Since Delilah breaks trail out in front of me, she was more than happy with my call to bring her back to retrace our steps toward the house. At one point, she picked up a scent of interest just off to the side, and I paused to see what she would do.

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One step into the depths was as far as she got. Apparently the smell wasn’t worth further effort.

It’s official. This is now the snowiest February since the weather watchers started keeping records. Why stop here? Might as well make a run at most snow in any month. We are told there is another snow system taking aim for us this weekend.

I can’t imagine what we are going to get when March arrives. Historically, that is when the biggest snow dumps used to occur. Maybe the shifting global climate has moved that phenomena up a month.

We can only hope.

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Written by johnwhays

February 21, 2019 at 7:00 am

My Day

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Honestly, I never seriously thought I would one day be telling stories about how different things were, back in my day. That’s something old people do.

Last night, there was a news ticker across the bottom of the tv screen announcing school closings for today. At that point, not a single flake had wafted down out of the sky. How does that work?

When I was in school, if we woke up in the morning with mounds of snow covering everything, we would immediately turn on the local radio broadcast and listen for our school to be named in the list of closings. Superintendents waited until the last-minute to announce their decision. We never knew the night before.

Nowadays, kids know before they even go to sleep. They have no idea how easy they have it.

Have winter storm forecasts become so much more reliable that school officials trust them that much farther in advance?

This is what was posted yesterday as NOAA‘s model of what today’s storm would look like:

That was enough for me to throw in the towel on driving the long distance across the entire Twin Cities today.

If we end up with nine inches of snow by the end of the day, it’ll be another feather in the cap of present-day meteorology, for accuracy of their storm modeling.

And, I will feel justified to have voluntarily missed another mid-week shift at the day-job, avoiding the hazards of two rush-hour commutes during a snow event.

If the snow accumulation doesn’t measure up, I’ll be reminded of the old days, when we never knew how much snow we were going to get, until it had actually fallen.

 

 

 

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Written by johnwhays

February 20, 2019 at 7:00 am

All Day

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Two all day things: It snowed all day yesterday and we shoveled all day. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here!

On Wednesday night, we noticed all the school districts in our vicinity were announcing they would be closed on Thursday, so I decided that was a pretty good clue that I shouldn’t try driving to the day-job. As a result, I am going in today, in a swap of days for my 4-day work week.

Sitting at my desk today will be a welcome relief from the strenuous exercise of shoveling for hours on end.

I took a little break to see what the horses thought of all these flying flakes. Cyndie caught a picture of Dezirea and me giving each other the eye. I think the horses were growing weary of the long duration of snowfall.

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Cayenne was sporting some cute curls in her long wet winter growth.

I got out the snowshoes to walk Delilah on our trails through the woods. She was so fired up to be out in the deep snow that she wanted to run, but I couldn’t keep up with her at that pace. I felt bad slowing her down.

The chickens showed no interest in leaving the coop. I snowshoed all around the coop to pack down the snow for whenever they decide to come out again. It’s probably going to be too cold for them today, but eventually, they will get tired of being cooped up (literally!) and venture out into the world again.

We have one Buff Orpington that doesn’t seem to be her normal self. We think she may have scrapped with that possum and be suffering some ill effects as a result. Cyndie couldn’t see any obvious physical wounds, so we have decided to just keep her comfortable and see if time heals whatever might be bothering her.

Today, I’m hoping to not do any shoveling all day. I’m expecting to be confused by this disruption of my normal routine, commuting and being at work on a Friday.

I expect it’s going to make my weekend seem unusually short, but my body will appreciate today’s break in the manual labor of property management chores.

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Written by johnwhays

February 8, 2019 at 7:00 am

Mad Weather

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Using just a couple hours in the dark Tuesday night to plow and shovel the 9 inches of snow we received, left the overall job of cleaning up around here far from complete. I spent yesterday at the day-job again, arriving home with no interest in rushing out again to do the rest of the plowing or shoveling, so plenty of spots remain covered.

The deck ended up with a fascinating snowscape of waves and lines unlike anything I remember seeing before. We have ended up with a variety of interesting patterns over the years, but never one with peaks so tall while the slots between remained wide open.

It must have been the result of a perfect dryness of the flakes and lack of wind while they fell.

The pending challenge which we are very curious to have revealed, is whether the predicted next wave of snow will double what already fell Tuesday, and make our job of clearing paths and trails –and the back deck– even more challenging that it was already going to be.

Last night, Cyndie and I watched a rented sci-fi thriller, “Life” (2017), a movie that depicts a space station crew studying a one-celled life form picked up on Mars that unexpectedly grows into a threatening menace. At one point in the movie, the lead scientist ponders the terrorizing underway by the organism they had named, “Calvin”.

“Calvin doesn’t hate us. But he has to kill us in order to survive.”

While out in the snow last night, under a “downpour” of more freshly falling flakes, I realized I was feeling a similar sense about the multiple blasts of winter weather battering us of late. My mind tends to perceive the storms as having cognition and intentionally pummeling our region with increasing levels of abuse.

But the weather doesn’t hate us. It is just an unemotional result of ingredients playing out on a global scale. Somewhere, a butterfly flapped its wings and we got walloped by winter.

Still, I can’t deny the distinct impression that, even though the weather might not hate us, it’s behaving an awful lot like it’s a little bit mad at us right now.

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Written by johnwhays

February 7, 2019 at 7:00 am

Crosstrek Love

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Have I mentioned how much I love my Subaru Crosstrek? It virtually drove itself home yesterday in the heavy snowfall we received. I just pressed the pedals every once in a while. The car plowed through the deep snow easily, holding the lane even when I had no idea where the lane was.

My only complaint was the icing on the wiper blades, but I wasn’t alone. Everyone was having the same problem I was on the last leg, reaching out their window to attempt “thwacking” the blade as it swung near, and pulling off wherever possible to get out and knock off ice.

This was my view toward the end:

There was nowhere to pull over, as each spot I came to was already filled by two or three cars, creating a scary hazard of potential collisions.

When I reached my driveway, I paused to clean my windshield so I could see to stay as close to the center of the pavement as possible. There was no guarantee that I would make it all the way up to the house.

After I parked in the garage, I noticed the back of my car was so coated by snow that my brake lights were hardly noticeable. I had been running with my 4-way flashers on during the craziest portion between River Falls and home, but they probably weren’t making a big difference in visibility.

After dinner, I went out to plow and poked a yardstick into the snow up by the house to check the depth. It was a little deeper down toward the shop garage, but this reading was a solid 8.5 inches.

That melty snow of last weekend is a thing of the past now. We have a fresh dose of the real McCoy. According to the forecast, this batch of flakes was just the warm up. Tonight and tomorrow, we are supposed to receive even more than what fell yesterday.

I’m not sure where I will put it all when plowing and shoveling. The piles are already impressively tall.

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Written by johnwhays

February 6, 2019 at 7:00 am

Contrast Comparison

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Let’s review.

Last week, polar vortex:

A few days ago, February thaw:

Yesterday morning, the commute to the cities was an ice adventure. On one of the close-to-home country roads, my tires lost grip and the Crosstrek started to float at a bit of a sideways angle. At the wee hours of morning, there were no other cars around, otherwise, that slide could have been a head-on collision disaster, as I encroached into the oncoming lane.

After a short distance, the tires re-gripped and the car violently responded with a sudden jolt of physics reality, returning without trouble to rolling straight forward, aligned in the proper lane of travel.

I adjusted my speed accordingly for the rest of the commute.

The residual trepidation that gripped me after that brief adventure in free flight was the possibility, or probability, of someone driving toward me losing traction like I had and then floating uncontrollably into my lane. Luckily, there were only a few cars that approached while I was on two-lane roads. After that, it was all divided highway.

I witnessed no crashes driving in the 5 o’clock hour, but my nerves were further rattled by a radio report that 4 salting trucks had slid into ditches in the county just north of our home.

I carefully pulled my car into the parking spot at work and breathed a sigh of relief. When I stepped out onto the glazed pavement, I was startled over how slippery it actually was. I couldn’t walk up the tiniest incline of sidewalk to the front door. I needed to “penguin” my way over to some snow and walk on that.

A coworker had the best solution for all this crazy winter weather we’ve been facing lately. Humans should be genetically engineered to hibernate during winter.

This is how I am able to recognize I am truly aging. That idea actually sounds appealing to me.

I suppose in a few more years, I will start talking about moving south over the winter months.

It’s enough to make my 20-year-old self roll over in his hypothetical grave. There are days I miss that guy.

I gotta admit, though, the sight of my 60-year milestone approaching on the horizon has me leaning more toward liking the looks of that future snow-bird guy a bit more than the young winter athlete of years gone by.

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Written by johnwhays

February 5, 2019 at 7:00 am