The Blizzard of ’18

It is hard to tell, in these later days, when something is really bad or when it is simply overhyped. Or possibly, really bad but national coverage so you only got the glancing blow from it. (See also: Hurricane Sandy.)

Today’s blizzard has the makings of a Real Event. We’re used to storms up here. It snowed on Christmas Day and we thought it was scenic. Until we had to start shoveling, at least. In 2015, feet of snow fell and did not melt on an unrelenting weekly basis. Snow is no reason to panic. But today’s storm has a few attributes that make me think the hype has a chance to be justified, and we have a reason to be wary.

1) The key one is the wind. Usually our snow storms are just snow. It falls on our driveway and we shovel it. But this storm has near hurricane force winds associated with it. Sideways snow is more serious than straight snow. This makes it harder to keep a house warm, and also threatens trees. We’ll be absolutely fine as long as we keep power. This isn’t usually an issue. But things will get very serious for us very quickly if we lose power. And that’s what wind threatens to do.

2) Potential. The worst of this storm is actually offshore. Our planned 12 – 15 inches is not the best this storm can do. The heart of it could be worse. And it’s gradually been moving closer to us. Even two or three days ago this was only going to be 4 inches. It’s a tiny distance. If the weather forecasters get just a bit of a surprise, we could end up with far more snow than any of us are ready for.

3) Cold. The storm is part of a one/two punch. It’s actually “pretty warm” today (eg. in the 20s). Given our streak of last week (seven days under 20 degrees – which hasn’t happened in 100 years) twenty actually sounds pretty warm. And it is, compared to what’s coming next. There are places in the world where a winter temperature of -9 degrees is normal. Boston is not one of them. We’re right next to the ocean, which ought to moderate our temperatures. It’ll be worse inland. This is not a normal temperature and may set a new record for the day on Saturday. This is what makes the prospect of losing power so appalling.

It gets worse

On the plus side, pretty much everyone wisely canceled almost everything, so we’re working from home. It’s cozy. The kids are much older now, so it’s a lot easier to spend a day with them! And I’m looking forward to the traditional snow day pot luck with neighbors!

I’ll keep you posted!


10:18 am – They say we’ll be getting about two inches of snow an hour from now until 4 or 5 pm tonight. So far it’s not too heavy, but very steady. Accumulations are hard to gauge because of the wind. I hear some plows attempting to plow a nearby parking lot. Good luck – this snow won’t stay where you put it!

11:28 am – Visibility has dropped a lot. I can probably only see about 200 feet. The snow appears to be falling sideways and you can hear Hollywood-style whistling. I’m on my second pot of coffee.

9 am – it begins
11:30 am picture – Compare and contrast with this morning’s picture

1:31 pm – The neighbors have started shoveling and snowblowing. I’m skeptical regarding how useful that is in 40 mph winds. Visibility has, if anything, gotten worse. So has the wind.

Even less visibility

3:32 pm – The dark is rising and the snow is falling.

Visibility lost

11:21 pm – well. I think that was as much snow as we’ve ever dug out of our driveway from one storm. The snow piles are nearly as tall as 2015! The snow stopped falling around 5 pm and the wind stopped whipping. It’s hard to tell with the drifts how much fell, but I’d have to think it was at least a 12 inch baseline. And our driveway is not kind to us in the drift department. Adam probably spent 3 hours shoveling. I spent at least two. It really had to be done tonight, because the big freeze coming will make the snow harder and the work harder. But we did it. Mostly. I think.

If I can’t move my arms tomorrow, you’ll know why.

Very high banks – almost as high as ’15
We had to walk a lot of the snow a considerable distance, including across the street.
Meanwhile, the kids…
The traditional Nobility Hill snow day potluck
How you get a car out in this situation
Icycles
That’s a lot of snow to be moved
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More Snow

It’s Sunday morning, and I’m still pajama’d. The boys are playing endless video games. Adam, hero of the century, is shoveling. Again. Church has been cancelled today. And this is likely the first of several snow days for a family already feeling rather cabin-feverish!

We’ve all spent more time than usual obsessing about weather forecasts. Here’s what this particular storm – slated to run long from Saturday night into Tuesday morning, looks like:

We're in that very high impact band.
We’re in that very high impact band.

There’s another storm that may be brewing behind it. Following that we are likely to get a historically cold snap, with highs in the single digits.

This is the kind of winter that sets the mark for what winter means and what it is for years to come.

The current scene - we have another 12 - 18 inches coming
The current scene – we have another 12 – 18 inches coming

Last night my neighbors hosted hordes at the Vinterfest. She’s Scandinavian. He’s from New Hampshire. They lit candles, turned off the heat, shoveled the porch to make it one more room for the party, and produced pounds of meatballs, head cheese, remoulade, and other deliciousness. It was a celebration of the winter, an avowal to be unafraid of the cold. We toasted each other in a room made of snow.

For perspective
For perspective – it’s really hard to get good snow pictures

One of the ceremonies of Vinterfest is the eating of the rice pudding. Tobin makes a vast batch of rice pudding, puts one blanched almond in it and passes out cups to the assembled crowd. One person finds that almond and conceals it for as long as they can. I’ve always wanted to be that person, but I never have been… until last night. I came home, late at night, with a crunchy almond taste, a marzipan pig and a year of good luck. Here’s to good luck, and a spring that comes someday!

My good luck token!
My good luck token!

Tales from the heart of a blizzard

These are semi-regular updates from our snow day. Since I’m going to be getting cabin fever, the least you can do is read about it!

9 am – woke up to a windy, white world. It’s hard to tell with the blowing snow, but I’d say there’s considerably less snow than predicted. This looks more like 6 – 8 inches than 18. (Note the lower portion of the fence.) Not saying we should be having school today, by any means.

Everyone is now on a screen – Mom and Dad are working, Grey is on his Chromebook and Thane is watching Wild Kratts.

Backyard blizzard view

10 am – Adam made four hot loaves of fresh bread for our neighbors, to help keep starvation from the door. I invited the older kids over to entertain our kids with a rousing rendition of HeroScape. Then I realized that people probably needed to be able to, you know, get to our house. So I grabbed a shovel.

The snow on the stairs was taller than the door, but powdery and easily pushed aside. I cut my way to the road, noting that the front yard snow was waaaaay deeper than the back yard snow – the promised 18 inches at least! The snow filled it even as I cut it. I got slightly stymied by the plow berm, but then decided my friends have legs and they could step over it.

Great thing about elementary schoolers is that four of them are less work than two of them….

Snowstorms make getting to your neighbors a logistical exercise.
Snowstorms make getting to your neighbors a logistical exercise.

11 am – the kids read and played quietly for an hour, but then they spotted other little heads on the street, and booked it to get their snow gear on. Let’s all take a minute to appreciate having kids who can put on and take off their own snow gear without parental intervention… ah….

Now there are some hijinks next door that involve sleds and vertiginous drops. Despite the transport ban, the road is a bit busy for sledding. Adam’s taking his turn on the walks to try and stay ahead of the DOOM. (The sidewalk portion of what I shoveled had completely filled in. The walkway portion stayed bare.)

Little figures in the snow
Little figures in the snow

1 pm – We went out sledding at noon. The DPW was attempting to plow our street, which was a bad combination. They asked us to stop sledding, so we did. I took most of the older kids in the neighborhood, and they’re currently wreaking havoc in Grey’s bedroom. Grilled cheese for lunch!

Grade school neighbors
Grade school neighbors

2 pm – I found the snow from the back yard. It was all on top of the cars. A million thanks to both David and Tobin for the snow-blowing. The snow removal on this driveway is a classic reason you should never buy houses during glorious October weather.

There's a car  under there. Somewhere.
There’s a car under there. Somewhere.

4 pm – Nothing like a day at home with your children while trying to do a full day’s work to make you really grateful for school. It’s just about time to stop splitting my personality and being full time at home!

7 pm – Best possible way to end a snow day!

Potluck with neighbors
Potluck with neighbors

10 pm – friends have returned to their home and our house is returned to a semblance of order. And yet it snows.

24 hours late

In the last months, we’ve missed 2 Sundays of church due to overnight snow, falling heaviest during the church-commuting-hours. This is unprecedented. This morning, we awoke to a tapping on our windows.

The Sunday morning snowstorm was a day late.

One of the truths about working in technology is that you can work from anywhere, as long as you have your trusty laptop and high speed internet access. So on one hand, this is great news for a snow day. Both my husband and I are staying safely off the treacherous roads. Five years ago, this would’v been a fantastic and relaxing opportunity. We would’ve looked gooey-eyed across the table at each other while writing our SQL scripts and complaining about the latency of the VPN. But, as you all recall from my incessant complaining, daycare is at the same location work is. So if I’m not going in to work, the kids aren’t going in to daycare.

What this means for me NOW is that I have two full time jobs I’m supposed to pull off today: full time getting coding done, and full time keeping people alive and reasonably happy. (So far this morning, Thane’s been able to trap himself in his toy bin and irritate his brother by playing with noisy toys while Grey was watching tv.) Add in undigging the driveway; a two hour job I’d guess, assuming this doesn’t turn to snow with a layer of ice on top. Happily, my husband is home to share the pain. Sadly, he didn’t bring his laptop home, which means he’s in the attic where the desktops are while I keep the home fires burning in the living room.

Thus the excitement of my life! So tell me, what do you do on snow days? Do you look forward to them? Dread them? What day of the week would you most like to have a snow day on?

The good and the mixed

I had a great parenting moment this afternoon.

Grey sat on the potty, pooping, and reading a book. And by reading, I mean pointing to each word and correctly saying what it was.

Caveats there are that he had pictures for reference, had been read the book several times before, and would often make initial-sound mistakes. (Eg. say it was “swim” when it was really “soar”.) So he’s not reading where reading = interpreting a story one has not read before using letters. It was reading = using letters, memory and context to figure out all the words in an entire book.

At three, I’ll take it.

I got an email from work today informing me that due to an expected foot of snow, work is to be conducted from home tomorrow. This would’ve been awesome news a few years ago. I would’ve made it work a few months ago. But with a very active, nap-averse preschooler and an infant… I just don’t know if I can actually get ANY work done. Childcare, remember, is right next to work. I’m not quite sure what to do — just as much work as I can? Work that night when my husband comes home? Not fret about it? Take the day off?

I had a rough afternoon today — great poop moment aside. I don’t really want to stay home tomorrow, since it is actually significantly harder on me to try to work AND tend to my family.