Sunday, December 20, 2009

Snow-pocolyspe 2009

Thursday morning on my way to school I heard a vague mention of the possibility of accumulating snow on Saturday, or maybe Sun. I didn’t think much of it, the last few snow storms that have been predicted resulted in rain, I was expecting more of the same.

By Thursday afternoon however, everyone was abuzz with the prediction of what could be a record breaking snow storm. The media was throwing around the phrase: Storm of the Century. I have lived here long enough to know that many “Storms of the Century” turn to rain or nothing so while I was paying attention, I didn’t have much hope that anything would materialize.

By Friday morning they were predicting accumulation totals – it started innocently enough with “in excess of 5 inches”. I was happy with that – sure it would lead to at least a 2 hour delay on Mon. The next time I checked though the prediction had increased – now they were saying 5-10 inches. I checked frequently through the day on Friday, fully expecting the storm to have vanished, turned, or that it would be rain, instead the prediction for snow totals just got higher and higher finally topping out at 15-25 inches. WOW!

I was getting excited, but trying to not to get caught up in the hype – we usually get more hype than weather around here.

After work Friday I considered going to the grocery store, but with all the news spewing dire predictions the grocery stores were a mess so I looked through what I had on hand and realized that I could easily make it through Sat without needing to stockpile food. Surely I’d be able to get out on Sun. Worst case I can walk to Giant.

Friday evening I headed out to my friend Rebecca’s choir concert with some friends – it was cold, but there was no snow yet. By the time I left the church at 10:00 there was a dusting of snow!!!! Mostly on the cars and roads. The roads were quite slippery and it was slow going. I again debated going to the grocery, but the parking lot at Giant was full and it was nasty outside, so I went on home.

The roads got so slippery so quick, one of my friends I’d been to the concert with wasn’t even able to make it home, he spent the night at another friends house about 10-15 miles from his house!

It snowed all night Friday night! When I woke up on Saturday morning I had almost 9 inches of snow on my front porch! The snow continued to fall all day Saturday – sometimes at a rate of 3 inches an hour! By 10 am we had a foot of snow!

That was when I decided it was time to try out my new snowshoes! I’d bought them for our upcoming trip to the Smokies after Christmas and had been fearful that by simply purchasing them I’d jinxed our chance of ever seeing snow again. I guess not! They’d arrived on Wed – what great timing! :-)

I’d expected to be able to walk on top of the snow, however it was so powdery that I sank right in. It was still very tough to walk. I headed out of my backyard and into the woods! Someone had been there before me and it was nice to have a trail laid out for me! The snow was very pretty in the woods, but it was very slow going. I walked a little ways in the woods then broke my own trail up the hill back to my house. I fell over into the snow a few times which was actually fun because it was so fluffy!

Later in the day I took the snowshoes out again. This time I headed in the other direction down the trail. It was still snowing hard, we’d now gotten about 8-9 more inches of snow! A little ways down the trail I came to a bridge over a creek! That must be where the folks who’d walked there before me had stopped. After that it was really tough going. I decided that the snowshoes were making it harder because I was sinking in a good 8 inches and every time I picked up my foot it had the weight of all the snow on it. I sat down on a tree trunk and took off the snowshoes. Not sure if it made it easier or not. I decided to turn around and head back. I was so tired of slogging through the powder that I decided to cut up a trail into another Townhouse development and then go back via the road.

It was easier walking on the road, even though it hadn’t been plowed it was mostly packed down so there was no sinking! I stopped and put the snowshoes back on. Not sure they did much to help. I kept banging them together and nearly tripped myself a few times!

The snow finally stopped around 9:00 pm Saturday night! It snowed for almost 24 hours! The final measurement at my house was 22-23 inches! That’s more than the “official” storm reports coming from the National Weather Service so it might not be accurate. The official reports are more about 15-17 inches.

Sunday morning dawned sunny and clear! I decided that I needed to go out and get some fizzy water and yogurt. I could probably have gotten the car out, but it was going to be more fun to walk! I pulled out my big backpack and headed out. I started with the snowshoes on – the snow was a bit denser today and I thought I’d sink in less – um no. At one point I had one leg sinking and the other not! I decided to walk in the street – it was covered with packed snow, so the snowshoes might have been helpful, but again I kept banging them together and tripping myself so I took them off and hooked them to my backpack. It was much easier walking without them.

As I was walking I was really glad I hadn’t driven. One of the roads I had to walk on was about 3 inches of slush. It was passable, but barely.

I got my stuff at Giant and started home. I decided to give the snowshoes one last try. They have ice grippers on the bottom and those nearly killed me when I got to the wet pavement at an intersection – they kept sticking and I nearly fell over several times. About a 1/2 mile from home I took them off. I’m not really sure what they are good for – they don’t work well in powder, they don’t work well on packed snow/ice – I’m happier with the feet I already have! I think this pair of snowshoes might be on it’s way back to Maine.

I have now dug my car out, as much as it’s going to get anyway, and am enjoying a cup of Chai tea while I await the announcement that school is closed tomorrow. Every county in the area (that’s not already on Winter Break) has canceled already, but not FCPS. Not sure what we are waiting for and am hoping our superintendent makes an announcement soon!

I definitely LOVE these big storms! I wish they came more often than once every 7 years! The last time we got 2ft of snow was in Feb 2003, my first year of teaching! Funny thing is that all of the children I have in my class now were either tiny babies or not born yet when that happened! This weekend’s storm set all kinds of records and has gone down in history as the 7th top storm of all time for DC! How fun! :-)

*Edited to add: Right after I hit "publish" FCPS announced that all schools would be closed not only Monday, but Tuesday and Wednesday as well!!! All the other counties just announced Monday! I'm very excited to have a 2 week winter break (as it should be!), but not so happy about losing all 3 snow days so early in the game! Oh well!

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