Monday, December 13, 2010

A blizzard worthy of the name

I will be eating crow at work today because the last thing I did when I walked out the door was pooh pooh the alarmist blizzard warnings on Friday. Usually there is a brisk east wind blowing before a storm and there hadn't been a breath of breeze all day. The longer and stronger the east wind, the more probable we would get weather. When I got up Saturday and went out with the now opiate addled Rookie, it was apparent that this was the real deal and the weather guys had hit it right on the head for once.

This was the first decent blizzard since the Halloween Blizzard of '91. I woke up that morning to the war whoops of No1 son and 1stLt O, ages 12 and 9 at the time. They had gotten up early, listened to the school closings on WCCO, our local weather obsessed radio station, and heard that they were off the hook. The night before my neighbor and I had taken the four boys trick or treating in the rain and celebrated the traditional end of the gin and tonic season. We would mix a large G&T in one of those huge insulated coffee cups and stroll the neighborhood with the lads. It had to be 1stLt O's best birthday ever. No school, a sugar buzz inducing sack of trick or treat candy, and the raw material for the best snowball fight and snow fort building ever. I was one of 4 people who made it in to work and that was only because I had a 4 wheel drive Suburban at the time. When I got home, my yard rivaled Verdun on WWI's western front with forts, trenches, and tunnels, but not a shovel full of snow had been removed from the driveway or sidewalk. Which was exactly how myself and probably 90% of the other kids dealt with 'snow emergencies'; by going out and playing in it.

Around noon on Saturday I headed out to run some errands. Not crucial errands but a trip to the meat market, hardware store, and liquor store. It was nasty. My front wheel drive Jetta wagon has Blizzaks on it, the best snow tire made in my humble opinion, but you need a feeler gauge to measure the ground clearance. There were people stuck all over the place, most notably when they tried to blow through the berm left by the plow on freeway exits. I had to drive 3 exits past my normal one before I hit a plowed one. People were also stopping in the middle of the road to snap the snow off their wipers, dangerous normally, but not when everyone is going 5 miles per hour. GalwayGuy, attempting to get home from St Louis, had two flights cancelled and wound up getting back by flying standby at Sunday noon. The Sunday evening Romantica vinyl debut show that we were planning to attend got moved to tonite when the band including the bass player Tony, one of our favorite Grumpy's barkeeps, got stranded on the way back from Chicago. In a true sign of the scope of the storm, the NFL's rigid and unbending schedule was compromised. For the guys who insisted on playing their games the weekend after President Kennedy was assassinated, this had to be tough. Even the powerful combination of the NFL and network TV was no match for Mother Nature. Not only were the New York Giants stranded in Kansas City, but on Sunday morning the Metrodome, the worst sports facility in North America, collapsed for the 4th time. The game was moved to Ford Field in Detroit and scheduled for tonite. Vegas bookies immediately added two points to the spread; it will be tough for the Vikes to win without the artificial, pumped in crowd noise over the PA, and that annoying fake Viking horn whenever they do something slightly above average. Sun Country is offering a $250 round trip charter today to Detroit. It should be interesting to see how many people take them up on it.

Chaos, inconvenience, and dislocation aside, a blizzard is an exciting event if you don't have to move around. The image from the last big storm a few years back at Reefer Creek illustrates that. We also got the classic northwest wind, bright sunshine, and highs in the single digits to follow it up. I headed out for my first cross country ski of the season and met up with TheManFromSnowyLegs and some other folks. It was nice in the woods and my aching quads, groin,etc. are all telling me that I should have done something other than plop my ass in a kayak all summer, but its the same every year. My upper body will be telling me in March that I should have done something other than ski all winter but the fact is that I never will. No inclination or discipline to cross train I'm afraid. For now I will just revel in the snow and the fact that we should be set with a base all winter for cross country fun. Now if I can just get out on the skate skis and aggravate a completely different set of muscles.........


Nan said...

I remember well that Halloween storm of '91. It hit us, too. I'd gone to a meeting in Madison and had to drive home to the U.P. The last 60 miles or so, from just south of Bruce Crossing to Daniel Heights on the Michigan Tech campus were, to say the least, an adventure.

I figure the dome collapsed because even Heikki Lunta is bored with Favre's melodrama.

DaveO said...

Ha! That's gotta be why the pot pie deflated. While kayaking off Grand Island near Munising, I ran into the drummer for Conge Se Menne, the world's only Finnish reggae band. One of the classic lines in one of their tunes is, "Guess who's coming to sauna? Heikki Lunta!". You gotta like it. Bruce Crossing to Houghton; that would not be on my top ten list of where to be during a blizzard.

Silbs said...

So, that's where all that snow fell.