Sunday, February 10, 2013

Cleaning up from "Nemo"

We got a lot of snow here during storm Nemo, more than I can remember getting in one storm within the last few years. Last winter in particular was extremely mild, and I think it spoiled us.

I knew I would have to do some snowblowing around the house, so after breakfast I went to the garage, and upon opening the garage door, saw this:

The photo I took is kind of dark, and you can't actually see where the bottom of the doorway is, so I put in the red arrow to show just how deep the snow was up against the garage doors.

My Honda snowblower is usually very efficient at moving snow, but this stuff -- though dry and light -- was both deep and somewhat packed down from the wind which had blown and pounded on it all night. I ended up going at a crawl, but did make it outside and started clearing away the drift in front of the garage bay on the left side, where Jeannine parks her car.

I think it took me about half an hour to clear a single snowblower's-width path around the house, partly so Jeaninne would be able to get to the birdfeeder,  and then I started down towards the barn, because I knew the snowblower would shortly be running out of gas, and I keep some fuel down there. It's roughly a couple hundred feet down to the barn, and as you might imagine, that also went slowly. I stopped to take a few photos of the cut I'd made through that expanse of snow.

With this much snow, it's sometimes surreal to look at the snow cut your snowblower makes, which is typically very straight-edged and sharp, unlike the rougher, more chaotic path a shoveler creates. It's almost like you've cut your way through a gigantic layer of Styrofoam which has, overnight, been laid down over your property. And even though I hate dealing with this stuff, I must admit there is still some beauty in it, as the colors in this photo of tree shadows falling over the snow and the snow cut demonstrates.

Getting to the barn, I had to snowblow a path to the doorways so I could get to the gas can. You can see in this photo that the snow there was almost as deep as the snowblower is tall,

Once inside the barn, I was confronted with a strange phenomena which I don't think I'd even seen before. There were snowdrifts INSIDE the closed doors!

Apparently, the consistent high winds and fine snow over the course of the previous night were sufficiently powerful  to blow enough flakes through the tiny cracks under the doors to allow for this much accumulation.

Although we do have a guy who plows our driveway, and who is reliable about it, yesterday it looked like he might have gotten -- pardon the pun -- snowed under with his other plowing work and might not get to us until late. Although neither Jeannine nor I really had anyplace we needed to get to yesterday, I started to have that slightly panicky feeling I occasionally get when there is something blocking our egress from the house. Sometimes it's been trees blown down across the driveway, but in this case, the snow was so deep that even my four wheel drive truck would not have made it more than a few feet out of the garage before getting hopelessly stuck. And Jeannine's sedan? Fuggeddaboutit!

So I decided I would fire up the old Dodge Ram truck, the powerful ten-cylinder model I bought years ago and on which I had a plow installed. It's gotten pretty ragged with age, but it still starts and runs and -- for now at least -- plows snow like a demon.

Which is a good thing, because even it had a bit of a hard time with this much snow. I did manage to clear the driveway, but got the truck stuck when I attempted to plow the space in front of the barn. But a little while later, with some judicious snowblowing of the area around the truck, I was able to get it free and carry on.

By this time I had been out doing this stuff for almost three hours, a fact Jeannine alerted me to when I saw her doing some shoveling up at the house. I figured that was enough of that for the day, and parked the truck, ran the snowblower into the garage, and took off my boots, gloves, jacket, balaclava and Tilley hat.

But before I changed out of my sodden, clammy, snow-encrusted pants for some warm, dry sweatpants, I decided to grab a yardstick and see if we did, in fact, get two feet of snow. As you can perhaps see in these photos, it varied in depth by a few inches, but in at least one spot there was almost exactly twenty-four inches.

That's a lot of snow.

Here's hoping this is the last big storm we get this winter. -- PL


Melodye said...

That's a LOT of snow!!! (Are you tempted at all to go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing?)

Great post & pictures! I'm sorry for any inconveniences you've suffered, but I like seeing Nemo from the vantage point of friends. An epic storm, and I can only begin to imagine how challenging it must be to dig yourself out, in all senses of that phrase.

Oh, and as for this:

I think it took me about half an hour to clear a single snowblower's-width path around the house, partly so Jeaninne would be able to get to the birdfeeder,

Hurray for the heroes that you are! Clearing away the snow, for the sake of hungry birdies...I'm smiling ear to ear at this image. :)

PL said...

Melodye, I used to do a little bit of cross-country skiing, but never got in to it as much as Jeannine did... and I've never really tried snowshoeing, due to lack of interest.

I did decide late this afternoon -- after coming home from shoveling my parents' front walk -- to take out my new snowmobile for the first time. (I'd traded in an older model, a Kawasaki with a two-stroke motor, for a new Yamaha with a four-stroke motor -- mostly to cut down on the noise and oily smoke), but managed to get it stuck in the deep, deep snow twice within ten minutes. Fortunately, our neighbor came by and helped get it free the second time. I guess I should have either tried it out a month or so ago when we only had about eight inches of snow, or waited until other snowmobilers had gotten out and packed down some trails.

Anyway, I'm home now, warm and dry in my sweatpants, stretched out on the couch. Much better than thigh-deep in frozen water crystals. -- PL