Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Snowstorm Update

I'm not sure how interesting this is in general at this point. We have a lot of snow, and it will be a few days before things are back to normal. I don't even have all the dramatic pictures that others are posting in their journals. So I'll just summarize how things are going for me in the tail end of this storm.

It's actually still snowing, Friday afternoon, a light mist sort of snow that's been accumulating slowly. I'll probably have to shovel a little bit more when I get home, which will mean I have shoveled out: Wednesday 10pm, Thursday 8am, Thursday 3pm (that was the worst), Thursday 6pm, Thursday 10pm, Friday 8am, Friday 7pm. We had a bit over 12" total here, which I realize doesn't seem like much if you are used to seeing dramatic accumulation totals on the weather channel of 18 and 22 inches and the like, but think about a city street completely covered in snow to a depth of a full foot. A car cannot drive through that, and walking through that is painful. Now imagine moving that snow with a shovel, even from just the sidewalks and walkways. Dividing it into seven shifts is the only thing to do. Remember that on a city street there is no easy place to put the snow (on top of the 9" from last week); there's a good deal of it you have to carry by the shovelful over to your yard, or toss over a fence.

Except that when I toss snow over a fence the shovel now goes flying off the handle on my landlord's shovel. My own shovel (not as good a shovel, but in better condition) is in my car, which was at work when this started to happen. So I've been digging out with a shovel that turns on the handle if the snow is not balanced and has gotten a bit too bent in general to be of ideal use. This morning I shoveled out as if I were delicately scooping dessert from a bowl, and I certainly couldn't break up the packed half-inch or so from the sidewalks without further destroying the shovel. I'll go searching for a new shovel this weekend, but I suspect they will be hard to come by just now. Fortunately, I'm pretty much done, except for the backyard which is only about about making me a path to the garbage bin by Monday evening.

I took the bus from work to downtown yesterday afternoon and even stopped for a brief bit of shopping (soft dark-green leather gloves with cashmere lining I've been coveting for 5 years and was able to buy at a huge discount). Pretty as the snow looked from the windows of my office building, it turns out that walking through it was mostly wet and quite windy and uncomfortable, and downtown was a mess. In fact, downtown was still a mess this morning, with two bus-rut paths on either side of Nicollet Mall with a plow-piled central barrier of snow. I think they'll be carting that stuff away now that the snow has stopped. Getting off the first bus this morning involved walking directly into a two-foot pile of wet slush, with no other option. Anyway, yesterday from downtown I took a very slow frequent-stop bus back to my neighborhood, stopping off for a bottle of nice wine (I decided it was the day to splurge and get some good stuff for the evening, none of this $9 table wine I usually get, no, give me an $18 bottle of California Cabernet Sauvignon, thank you very much). The four block walk home was tricky, since the sidewalks were messes of slush and snow and dirt to an annoying depth, of two and three feet at some corners.

I ate soup and leftover steak and girl scout cookies and I drank the rich red wine and watched television and got up periodically to shovel. That's not really such a bad way to spend an evening, for me in my generally lazy current mood.

This morning, as noted, was more shoveling and trudging through wet plowed drifts and taking two buses and it was all great fun. The view from my office is still gorgeous and the snow I see is still beautiful and white and piled up even higher than you could possibly imagine. I have no idea how the street-clearing is generally faring, though. Last night and this morning the city did a good job of keeping the major streets moving (from my landlord's porch upstairs I have a great view of many many blocks down Lake Street, and last night I sat there for a long time just watching the cars through the heavy falling snow along the very well lit street). But the side streets? Apocalyptic. The junctions of the unplowed side streets and the plowed major streets are nearly impassable, and many many cars were getting stuck this morning and needed pushing out. I looked out the bus window this morning to see side streets that looked like arctic wasteland (with car-igloos lined up alongside). The alleys between the streets are blocked with plowed snow to an extent that I think will keep them inaccessible until April, unless the residents band together for major digout parties tomorrow.

Only four of us came in to my office today (we usually have between 13 and 17), but most folks can work at home and the instructions on the news this morning were to stay off the streets if you could. Many, many folks around here heeded that (or used it as an excuse for a three-day weekend, as most if not all schools are closed), which means the highway traffic is moving along and there aren't the two and three hour bumper-to-bumper commutes you get when heavy snow comes by surprise during rush hour. On the whole, this is not as bad as it might be.

Or not as bad as in Duluth, where they have broken records for daily snowfall and have seen blizzard conditions for what seems like more than a day. Or as bad as south of here heading into Iowa, where they have closed the Interstates. The news reports were funny last night -- dramatic footage of shelters being set up for stranded motorists, but no takers -- instead all the motorists seemed to find rooms at local motels (there was ample advance warning about travel, so I guess the highways were very very light in traffic). Footage of families splashing about in motel swimming pools didn't carry the urgent drama the newsfolks were obviously going for. There were a whole lot of cars that needed to be dug out of roadside ditches though, so it wasn't a total loss on the newsfront.

I think I'll risk driving home tonight instead of leaving my car here again. Certainly I'll be able to drive on major roads most of the way, and they were scheduled to plow out half my street today. The fact that there isn't any more room on the side of the streets for the plowed snow might or might not be an issue here.

It's supposed to be a lovely weekend.
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