I don’t often get a chance to do something entirely new so I’m a little excited to be going through my first blizzard ever, only a few days after the end of the last world. So far, this new world I woke up to at the end of the Mayan Calendar seems to be a lot colder and nastier in terms of weather. Driving to work in a blinding snowstorm on the first day I lost control in a whiteout and spent some quality time sitting in my car in a ditch I normally don’t frequent. Today, the weather is a lot worse, but I got lucky and don’t have to be out in it.
Last night the morning shift manager called up, probably in a leftover benevolent mood from Christmas celebrations, and suggested that if the storm looked too bad I should stay home, since there were other people closer to the store than 26 miles who could fill in for me. It hadn’t occurred to me to stay home until she mentioned this, because I always do give it a try if the car has any chance of survival at all, and so far I’ve always made it to work on snow days. Staying home seemed like a great idea, though, and in the morning it did look like travel was ill-advised. My manager was a lot less benevolent when I called in at 5 a.m. and asked whether somebody was covering for me or not, but the weather quickly closed in and sealed the deal for me. Woohoo! a day off! I’m starting to like this new world a little better.
The only thing I know about blizzards is what I’ve read in books and seen in movies. They look about as scary as hurricanes. People get lost in whiteouts and freeze to death in blizzards, and if you stay home as recommended you can get stuck there for days or weeks without power, without heat, and without running water. I’ve been through every part of that in other storms, except for actually freezing to death. Well, a couple of minor frostbite issues and some close calls, but nothing of blizzard quality. It’s a little scary to come up against weather that’s new, so I’ve been careful.
Today I patched up the plastic weather panels on the inside of the house windows and stored some drinking water just in case the power goes out. I’ve got plenty of food including about fifty pounds of turnips and daikon radishes as well as my stock of canned garden produce and even most of a Christmas turkey I cooked yesterday. I certainly won’t starve if I’m stuck at home for a few days without electricity. I’ll even have heat, because I’m saving my kerosene heater for if and when I don’t have power. For now, I’m running electric heaters, something I almost never do. I expect to be back in town at work tomorrow, but you never know.
So far, the Blizzard of 2012 is the nicest blizzard ever, at least right here. Snow is about six inches deep overall, drifting and blowing just as predicted, and the wind is about 30 mph. Snow started here about 5 a.m. and has been pretty steady, might even continue this way until evening. It’s pretty white out there, but it’s not a whiteout. I now have a reference for that, having been for a drive in a short one. In a whiteout you can’t see anything past the glass in the windshield, it’s pretty eerie and makes me understand completely how pilots untrained in instrument flying can fly the seat of their pants straight down into the ocean in zero visibility weather. As a disaster, I’ve seen worse things than the Blizzard of 2012. In Alaska this would be a pretty decent winter day, and some Ozark storms I went through were lots worse than this one. I’m a happy camper at the moment. All blizzards should be like this one.
Under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security and possibly the New World Order, the county did close all roads to public travel. I saw a couple of neighbors in old pickup trucks head towards town awhile ago and wondered if they’d make it past the barricades. They were both back in about five minutes, so I guess not. You’d think being out of beer would qualify as a travel emergency and classify your truck automatically as an emergency vehicle, but it’s not so. Here, what happens when the county closes the roads is that the highway department puts a big sign across the road that says “ROAD CLOSED.” If things aren’t too bad, most people drive around the signs and keep going, but today getting off the road even a little bit will get you stuck in the ditch, so unless you have four-wheel drive and a winch, the roads really are closed.
Maybe the lack of traffic has some benefits, because the county snowplow did come by today and almost cleared the road all the way to the house. Possibly the driver feels important because he’s officially driving an emergency vehicle. I live on the county line, though, and there’s some dispute over which county has to clear this section of road. Usually neither county does and it’s left to nature and traffic to wear down the snowpack, or to one of the local tractor owners who just can’t leave anything unplowed. I’m glad that the New World Order has its act together. There’s good in everything, and at last the county snowplow is running on schedule.