Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Snow Day

This Afternoon...Snow heavy at Times. Near zero visibility at Times in blowing and drifting snow. A chance of thunderstorms and sleet. Snow and sleet accumulation of 12 to 18 inches. Brisk with highs around 20. Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph. Wind chill values as low as 8 below.

Tonight...Snow heavy at Times. Near zero visibility at Times in blowing and drifting snow. A chance of thunderstorms in the evening. Total storm snow and sleet accumulations of 18 to 24 inches. Windy with lows 7 to 12 above. North winds 25 to 30 mph...Becoming northwest 20 to 30 mph after midnight. Chance of snow near 100 percent. Wind chill values as low as 16 below. "

So sayeth the National Weather Service.

Despite this dire warning, a steady stream of skiers breaks the solitude of the lodge bringing with them a strange sense of entitlement and criticism of the exorbitant price of things they supposedly need, like mittens.

"Is this the price, or are you going to knock something off it?" one English gent asked.

"That is the price," I assured him.

"Well, I guess I won't buy them, then," he said.

In the months to come, as he hugs the stumps of his amputated digits to his chest and tries to hire someone to pick his nose for him, I hope he congratulates himself many times for refusing to pay our ridiculous price for those mittens.

The people who come out in this weather clearly are not normal. Among the few drivers on the road this morning were several who did not seem to have the faintest familiarity with common road signs and right-of-way rules. It wasn't that they didn't know how to drive in snow. They just didn't know how to drive. I wondered if they might be ten-year-olds, out of school for the snow day, who had decided to grab Mom's car and try a flyer on the highway, or perhaps people who learned to drive when all you had to do was keep the old flivver 'tweenst the ditches and out of the deepest ruts.

Perhaps the obliteration of all lane markings makes drivers feel that the rules indicated by them no longer apply. Out of sight, out of mind. Wheeeee! And the whiteout obscures most of the signs. The rules shut down when the schools did.

On roads so little traveled that even the plow ignores them, storm driving is positively serene. It feels like motor boating on a canal. The car steers approximately where you point it, allowing for drift. It bucks over the humps of snow like small waves, while the wind blows snow across the bow.

In weather like this, you dress for the ditch, not for indoors. You may not go into the ditch, but someone else might need your help.

Helpful hint: When snow will fall during the whole work day, cool your windshield before you park the car for hours. That way you will not have to scrape away ice that formed when snow melted on the warm glass and then refroze. Just brush away the dry snow.

I cooled mine by turning the defroster all the way to cold for the last 15 minutes of the drive to work. It was chilly, but I had enough layers. And it will save trouble at the end of the day.

This technique doesn't help when the snow itself is changing back and forth from wet to dry.

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