Monday, February 7, 2011

A Blizzard and Early Spring

On Tuesday the blizzard brought the Midwest to a screeching halt. We were warned and most of us worked on our severe storm plans, but others remained clueless. When the blizzard came to town, businesses closed down and sent their workers scurrying to the shelter of their homes, or to the homes of family and friends to wait out the storm which surely would not be as bad as predicted.

Only it was, and then some. Instead of falling like a normal snow, the wind blew it sideways. And it snowed without respite through whiteout conditions, and before you know it, we had a real old-fashioned blizzard. It was certainly a good time to be indoors looking out the window at the snow that seemed to be on a mission. It was quickly dubbed Snow-maggaden, Snowpocalypse, and my personal favorite—Snownami.

After the blizzard raged all day and throughout most of the night, the world was covered with snow dunes. Ripples cascaded across yards and small objects collected drifts that stood several feet tall. The snowscape greeted the day with an in-your-face claim on the land. The world lay silent in awe of the volume of snow that dared snowplows to find the roads buried beneath its pristine covering.

Interstate 70 was closed from Kansas City to St. Louis, and the rest of the state’s roadways lay impassable. Snowplows plugged away at clearing main highways first. Other roads were cleared by farmers on their tractors. Even most state roads had tractor plowed single lanes, but no traffic during the morning hours because vehicles were snow covered lumps in driveways and alongside the roads.

People were snowed out, people were snowed in. It brought out the best of people with neighbors helping neighbors and the worst in people who couldn’t understand why stores were still closed in the aftermath.

Then began the slow, tedious process of digging out. Newspapers and television stations posted pictures of good Samarians wielding shovels and using tractors or trucks with blades to clear driveways and walks for others. By Friday, my country road had been cleared the width of a car. I was at work when I received the good news that my son, grandson, and a friend had spent hours clearing snow from my driveway and the walk to my door.

Locally, an elderly man died Friday when he got stuck on a side road and tried to walk home. His body was found in a snowdrift. Nationally, an eighty-eight year old Louisiana man with Alzheimer’s wandered from his home in search of the bathroom to change his clothes. His jeans and shirt were found outside the door, and a few hours later his body was discovered. Perhaps one of the most disturbing parts of the story is that although the man had been in a nursing home a few years ago, he seemed to get “better” and was moved back home. Inclement weather is dangerous for anyone, but for confused people it can be deadly.

Here we are a week later and snow is still piled up along driveways and roadways. The only bright spot in this entire scenario is that Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow which means an early spring.

I hope that Phil’s prediction isn’t just true for Pennsylvania since the sun was shining bright in Missouri the day after the blizzard—Ground Hogs Day, of course. Spring cannot be too early for me! I’m tired of the snow and the cold weather, but it seems like the snow and cold aren’t ready to move on just yet. The forecast is for more snow and cold this week before a warming trend next weekend.

The calendar, like life, has its seasons and some are more challenging than others. One thing that can be said for the blizzard, it reinforced how blessed I am to be surrounded by family and friends. Thanks to them, I’ve come through the snownami unscathed, although, I admit it wouldn’t hurt my feelings if another “fifty year storm” holds off for at least that long.
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