Friday, February 21, 2014

When I'm Wrong.....

I own it.  And boy, howdy, was I wrong when I described this storm as a non-event to someone who had left a comment on yesterday's post.

Shortly after writing that comment response, the wind picked up.  The little bare naked tree outside my window bent over and snapped back again and again until I feared it might break.  Visibility was less than a city block, diminished by blowing snow.  I had been listening to the scanner and could tell by the traffic between police and dispatch that we were in trouble.

Earlier in the day when I wondered why it wasn't snowing yet, I failed to see that there was precipitation in the form of light rain.  Which froze on the roadways.  Which sent vehicles careening into the ditches.  After the rain turned to snow, the wind started to blow.  Drifts began to form.  Soon the emergency vehicles were getting stuck in the drifts.  At one point there was a police car stuck in the snow along with half a dozen other vehicles that couldn't make it up a freeway ramp.  More than once an officer came on the radio to warn of roads that were blocked by snow drifts.  The snow plows were giving it their all, but were having trouble keeping up, and south of my location, they were pulled off the roads because they could no longer see the road.

And then my lights went out.

I have developed a routine when I lose power.  I keep flashlights, candles and matches in every room where I can easily find them.  So I lit a candle and headed toward the rear of my apartment.  I keep four five-gallon, empty buckets handy, and those I filled with water from my bath tub while I still have water pressure, to use for washing, flushing, etc.  Then I grabbed my little battery operated radio and settled down in my recliner to wait.

I was lucky in that I only had to wait about an hour and a half before power was restored.  There have been times when my power has been off for much longer periods of time.

I made a huge mistake in underestimating the power of this storm.  I tend to forget that because I live in town, surrounded by two and three story buildings, that the effects of snow and wind are not always as obvious as they are out in open country.   Or in the residential areas.  This photo was posted on Facebook this morning by my children's aunt, after she had shoveled a path from her house to the street.  She lives a bit closer to the city than I do.

This morning there is still a bit of wind, but much lighter than yesterday, and the sun is shining.  There is a small army of city workers out clearing the sidewalks, and the plow has made one pass down the street in front of my building.  I don't know how much snow we got, but the ledge outside my window, which is about 18 inches wide and runs the width of the building, has about a foot of snow on it.

I long for violets and lilacs.


  1. Bless you. You need a couple of kerosene lamps. If you lived just over here, across the street, I'd walk over with two and leave 'em. Hate to tell you this but it's cloudy and 71 degrees here this morning. Rain expected. Guess I'll build another pot of coffee and wait for it. Just noticed a Cardinal, pretty little thing, land next to my window. Perhaps he wants a cup too.

  2. Stephen.....Kerosene and oil lamps are on my "need to buy" list. There is an antique/junk store a couple of doors down from me, and the owner let's me know if she gets something I can use. She is watching for lamps. Today, after the storm, I am wishing I was in your neighborhood! I could do with some 70 degree weather. I see cardinals here in the summertime, down along the river. But today, any bird with half a brain is hiding out, hopefully in a fairly warm spot. Coffee sounds good - don't mind if I do!

  3. I think almost everyone underestimates any storm that we have. I am watching the local news, Ch 5, and folks are having trouble getting traction. Empty big rigs are really having issues.

  4. Rob.....I listened to the online scanner for a while this morning, and it sounds like it is an absolute circus out there. They would clear an area of cars from the road and ditch, and before they could move on, somebody else would slide in. They were trying to get a salt/sand truck to spread a load of the mix on one road, and the truck got stuck. Seems like it is the layer of ice under the snow that is causing the problems. Glad I'm inside!!

  5. I started reading your post and had a sinking feeling in my stomach that you'd had a really bad episode of fighting the cold, while waiting for the power to return.

    After I found out you'd avoided the worst of it, I felt better.

    Stay warm and remember Spring is close, flowers will bloom, warm summer days are ahead and I'll write about the trade-off we face during the smoldering months called Summer.

  6. Jess.....It's nice to know there are people who worry about me a little bit! I'm pretty well prepared for winter power outages. Heavy jackets, wool socks, caps and mittens, lots of quilts, sleeping bag, etc. The only thing I need to buy is an auxiliary heater, but storing flammable fuel is a problem in an apartment. I'll find something I can use, though. After having spent some time in the South in summer, I think I probably can withstand our cold winters better than I could your hot, humid summers. I don't envy those days at all!!

  7. A heavy sleeping bag is probably the best thing to have on hand, beside warm clothing. You can always "escape" to the sleeping bag and survive for a long time.

    I don't recommend any flammable liquid in an apartment. Beside the danger of fire, all open flames consume oxygen and can produce carbon monoxide.

    If you must use such things, make sure you can open a window to allow fresh air. If you can't, don't take the chance.

  8. Jess.....There are windows in each room that are easily opened. I have carbon monoxide detectors that have battery backup. But it is mostly the problem of fuel storage that has kept me from buying a heater. After the fire in my building last summer, I am more than a little reluctant to keep any flammable fuel in my apartment. I hate to think of what might have happened if the apartment that caught fire had contained cans of fuel. So I am careful.

  9. Propane is the best solution. They make tent heaters that are far safer than having any liquid flammable in a confined space.

    Still, such things should only be used while awake. It's far better to be sleeping cold than never waking up again.

  10. Jess.....Good idea. I will check on propane heaters. I have no problem sleeping in the cold. I have a huge problem with never waking up again! Besides, I told my kids that my goal in life was to live long enough to be a problem to them. I have almost, but not quite. attained that goal!