Monday, February 11, 2013

I Survived Snowmageddon (Part XVI)

Snow piling up against Julia's barn door Saturday.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING:  We East Coast Red are digging out of the remains of the Blizzard of '13 (no, I'm not going to call it by the weather channel's made-up name. Naming every snow storm in the northeast is like naming every tornado in Oklahoma - you'll be on Zelda Zachery Zanderbergen before the season is over.)

This was a well-hyped storm that lived up to it's publicity, especially in Massachusetts and Connecticut. It got me thinking about how my family deals with major weather events. Living as we do in the Maine countryside, we're used to both heavy winter weather and power outages. We always have batteries, several jugs of water, and boxes of emergency candles and safety holders.

RJ Julia Booksellers in Madison, CT.
Before the storm began, we loaded the log cradle with enough wood for three days burning, topped off the gas in the car, and made a couple big pots of soup and stew, food that is easily reheated atop one of the woodstoves. I got the dirty clothes washed and hung up and Ross ran the dishwasher, against the possibility that we wouldn't be able to for the next few days. We plugged in the phones and the laptops, and got out some board games. When you're well-prepared, there's a sense of fun and adventure in a storm (providing you're not dealing with anything genuinely dangerous, such as flooding or damage to your home.) It's kind of like camping, with furniture.

How did the rest of you East Coast Reds fare during the storm? Do you have a standard prep routine? And for Rhys and Debs, what, if any, weather events do you need to worry about in California and Texas?

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh you Mainers are so tough! CT really got hammered. The snow is so heavy in my hometown that the plows can't lift it. They've called in heavy construction equipment to try to clear the streets.

But I wasn't there. It's a little bit surreal to be in sunny Key West, watching the storm unfold on TV. I wanted to be there for about half an hour...I'll tell you one thing though, we are getting a generator when we get back north. Too many storms coming through our neck of the woods to leave it up to candles and flashlights.

Hallie's husband on snow clearing duty.
HALLIE EPHRON: I would LOVE to try snowshoeing - sounds like great fun, Ro.

We gassed up, shopped for basics, charged everything, and hoped for the best -- which is what we got. SO MUCH SNOW! Though not as much as Lucy got -- seems like this is the third storm that's drawn a bullseye on the Connecticut coast.

But we're dug out (picture shows our neighbor starting to dig out) and didn't lose power. In the neighboring town -- which is literally across the street -- virtually everyone lost power and many are still down. The sheer amount of snow is pretty incredible. Tomorrow's forecast: rain. So now we get to worry about ice dams and leaky roofs.

We'll hope this doesn't happen to Rhys.
RHYS BOWEN: It's funny but the temperature in Arizona, where we spend our winters these days, has dipped into the fifties and we're complaining that we're freezing. Sorry, you tough North-Easterners. We're wimps. And one good thing about Arizona is no weather events. It gets up to 120 degrees in summer when we're not there. There are occasional dust storms which are weird. But mainly in winter it's sun, an occasional passing cloud or cold night.

In Marin County California where we have lived for 40 years now we get torrential rain in the winters--flooded roads, mud slides and power outages all possible (which is why we escape these days). Summers are lovely. We are out of the fog belt. But I suppose one can't quite ignore a little thing called Earthquakes. We've experienced three since I moved there, but no damage to us. We're all ostrichs when it comes to The Big One.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  Well, as a reporter, you know the deal. I was out in it, two days, and  (like most of us at Channel 7) stayed over at a hotel so I could come in to work  the early shift on Saturday.  I walked the silent and deserted Logan Airport, interviewed the last of the arrivals, watched the snow removal machines. Drove (with my photographer and a 4-wheel drive)) to northern Massachusetts on empty highways, amazing to zoom (is) up I-93 without another car in sight. white white white, and battering snow. At one point, I tried to open my car door, and the wind was so strong I couldn't do it. I walked in slush in flooded Salisbury, watching the raging ocean and saw the massive beach erosion, splatted in the thigh-high snow and had to be yanked to my feet by the homeowner I was interviewing.

(Not Hank. WHDH wouldn't leave her standing out in the snow this long.)

The key to storm coverage: bring almonds and celery and water, use whatever bathroom is available whenever you can, and keep your cell phone charged.
VERY happy to be home.  Very grateful for my hot shower.

Funny--my new book THE WRONG GIRL takes place in the dead of winter..and Jane has to battle the snow to get her story!

Remind us again why people live here, Deb.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: North Texas is major tornado country. Do you remember in Twister when the tornado chasers are driving along those country roads that are supposed to be in Oklahoma? If you look closely at the highway signs, many of the scenes were shot in north Texas. In fact, even though it's early for severe weather, we had a big front move through last night. No tornadoes, thank goodness, but it was bad enough that I spent the night on the mattress on the bathroom floor with the storm-phobic dog...
We can have snow and ice in the winter (our measly--by New England standards--six inches over Christmas brought everything to a standstill) and blisteringly hot summers. We are always prepped for tornadoes with bottled water, easy to heat up food, flashlights, and emergency evac kits. In really bad storms I huddle in the little downstairs bathroom (center of house, no windows) with both dogs, flashlight, charged cell phone, and walkie-talkie. Gee, can't wait till spring...)

JULIA:  How about you, dear readers? Tell us your storm stories! Have you dug out? Do you have power? Or are you someplace warm, laughing sympathetically at the rest of us?


  1. For us, surviving Snowmageddon involves much the same preparation as Julia and Hallie have already mentioned: checking the supply of batteries, making sure all the battery-lights work, charging the cell phone [assuming, of course, I can remember where it is] . . . logs for the fireplace, matches to light the gas stove so we can make coffee in the percolator, heat the soup, and all that, supplies of shelf-stable food and water. Fortunately, we prepped, but this time we actually had very little snow here in the Pine Barrens and we never lost power . . . .

  2. Two miles from the ocean, we got only 12-14 inches of snow in Central Jersey. No problems, thank goodness. Still cleaning up from the fall hurricane. Since the day after Sandy arrived, we have an electric generator hooked up to the natural gas line. Goes on and off automatically if and when we lose power. Paid for itself during Sandy in the two weeks of hotel bills we didn't have to pay (like 75% of our immediate neighbors). Plus I get to change the oil and filter once in a while.

  3. I just have to explain the...interesting video of the reporter. WHDH has a lot of storm coverage videos on their site, including some of Hank reporting on the storm, as she describes in the blog. But for some reason, I couldn't get anything to embed!

    So I was image Googling "reporter in snow" for a substitute picture and ran across the footage of Park Dae-Ki. Here's what it says at "Know Your Memes":

    Dear Reporter Waiting Park is an internet phenomenon based on a news report about a blizzard that swept across the Korean peninsula on January 4th, 2010. At the center of this snowstorm was Park Dae-ki (박대기), the KBS field journalist reporting from outside while trembling in subzero weather with a pile of snow on his shoulders.

    Further feeding the exploitability of this scene was his ironic e-mail address displayed on screen: Although it was a clever pun on his name “Dae-Ki” (a homonym for the Korean verb “to stand by” / “to wait”), the satellite broadcast came off as highly entertaining and evoked much sympathy from the viewers at home. By next morning, Park apparently received over 2,000 fan e-mails in his inbox.

    The Transcript of the clip:

    Studio Anchorwoman: Seoul Metropolitan Area has been hit with a blizzard today, beginning around 5 a.m. this morning and it still hasn’t stopped. We’ll go live with our reporter Park Dae-ki, who’s out in the storm as we speak. Mr. Park, it looks like the condition hasn’t improved much, how are things over there?

    Park Dae-ki: Yes--at this moment, it’s coming down so heavy in downtown Seoul that it’s hard to stand here with my eyes open. (determined silence)"

    (Suddenly Cuts Back to Studio)

  4. We do all the same things everyone else does pre-snow: Make soup. Count candles. Check batteries.

    We got 30+ inches, but the snow was light here in Maine as it stayed quite cold throughout, so the power stayed on.

    Post-storm is for playing, of course.

    Yesterday we drove out to North Yarmouth and went for a horse-drawn glide over the new powder at Skyline Farm, which has a fabulous exhibit of historic sleighs running through the end of March. Then we decided it was time for some exercise and strapped on the snowshoes. Fun, but exhausting when we had to break trail through drifted areas.

    It did my heart good though, in every sense.

  5. We once lost power after a summer hurricane. So we set up the charcoal grill, took out some steaks, plugged in the starter, and waited. And waited. (We were unclear on the concept: power OUTage.)

  6. Brenda, that sounds like the most fun of all!

    Here in Southwest Ohio we get it all: heavy snow, heavy rain, flooding, high winds, tornadoes, and power outages galore. I keep annually refilled jugs of water in the basement, along with some non-perishable foods, blankets, emergency lighting, hand crank/solar radio (that also has a way to recharge phones), and first aid stuff.

    My husband calls this my "umbrella strategy": If you carry an umbrella, it never seems to rain.

  7. Home from work today. We were advised to take personal or vacation time. I heard that none of the parking lots have been plowed yet. I took a vacation day on Friday due to the storm. I am about ready to climb the walls! I am not very good at staying home for more than a few hours if it's not my choice! My town had the highest snowfall in the State of Connecticut. Ugh. (We also had some of the worst storm damage in the state from Irene and Sandy. Mother Nature clearly does not like us!)

    Because of Irene and Sandy I was already prepared with extra batteries, candles, flashlights, etc. We never lost our power...hurray! What I could NOT control was the total snowfall or how I would remove the three plus feet from my car and deck. Thankfully, neighbors came to my rescue. But even the four of them working together could not remove ALL of the snow. I think the rain we're having right now will melt down enough of it so I can drive the out of the snowbank.

    I love the picture of RJ Julia bookstore!

  8. drive THE CAR out of the snowbank!

  9. HAllie, I'm lauging. Oh, ou mean--there's no POWER.. oh, ah, oh.

    SO unny.

    My feet are till cold. And we are feeding the birds.

  10. North Texas is very nice in the spring and fall:-)

  11. I made Julia's soup and shoveled. We're due for rain, snow, and freezing rain tomorrow.

  12. We get what Debs described in Texas here in KC, only more snow and ice and colder temps in the winter. Yesterday, the temps were unseasonably warm here, but the winds were stunningly hard. Took down a massive elm in my front yard.

    I saw the photo from the Boston paper with people digging out their almost completely covered cars. You guys in the northeast have been hit so hard lately. I hope this is the last of it that you must suffer through.

  13. Oh how I miss the sound of Kubota tractors plowing the sidewalks outside my room at 3:30 AM; 4 AM; 4:30 AM... . Maybe Arizona winters aren't so bad, after all.

  14. I was talking at a conference in Memphis a number of years back - drove back to Little Rock in the dark (staying in LR overnight to get an early plane) - in a nasty storm. Ends up tornadoes from Texas heading through LR - the radio reporter kept saying "in 5 mins., the tornado will be in _____; 10 mins, it will be in _____county...." I had no idea where I was, couldn't see anything, and there were no exits (well, there was an occasional one but w/absolutely nothing there). Finally found a Shell station fairly near an exit - they told me not to drive any further, I was heading right into the storm. Then the phone rang, and they said "it's here - everybody out" and they locked us out! (Later saw semis overturned in the median). Since then, I have become a huge tornado-phobe...and I despise Arkansas.

  15. Julia, I'm glad I'm not the only one who refuses to name a snowstorm! I think it's just silly.

    My corner of Maine didn't get the snow coastal and southern areas got. We ended up with about 10" over the weekend and then another 6 or 7 yesterday. I'm at a ski resort so they're all happy. They get much more business when there's snow on the ground in Portland and Boston.

    I was in DC a few years ago for their major Snowmageddon. I was stranded after a meeting for two days. When AMTRAK finally started we couldn't get to the station. Roads weren't plowed, public transportation wasn't running, and what few cabs were running were gouging passengers. It was fun walking down the middle of the road to the White House.