Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowed In (Again)

Over the past week, we've been snowed in for three or four days. The snow cleared a bit yesterday so we ventured out and took a look around. Today the snow is about a foot deep with no end in sight. Here's some random observations:

  • Getting out yesterday, I went by the office to drop off some things and ran into a guy who was entering the building as I was leaving. "Jeez you should have seen the store!" he said, lamenting the fact that it was a zoo and he wasn't prepared so had to partake in the zoo-like atmosphere. Being curious, my next stop was the store. I didn't need anything but wanted to see what he was talking about. It was the craziest sight I've ever seen. The parking lot was jammed and the line of people and carts waiting to check out completely circled the outer perimeter of the store. Those people probably had a good hour or more wait to get checked out. If this is what happens when a couple day storm is forecasted, can you imagine what would happen if a long term event took place? Scary. Think I'm uping the production in my garden next spring, looking into powdered eggs, and improving my stock of milk (frozen milk, canned milk, and powdered milk). I already have plenty of grains stocked along with canned goods and baking ingredients but it seemed like at the store, everyone needed milk and eggs as well as baskets full of processed food. Note to them--with the basics, you can make just about anything from potato chips to frozen burritos to chocolate donuts.
  • Later yesterday, I left the spouse with the car at the mall and took the bus into the city and back (btw, traffic at the mall was craziness redefined yesterday). This was the first time I had ever taken public transportation when the roads weren't so great. Lesson learned: be prepared to wait, and wait, and wait. The buses got there eventually but nowhere near the scheduled time.
  • People here do not know how to drive in the snow! Driving in huge snow storms on the east coast is a piece of cake compared to driving here. I guess because this area does not get much snow, people don't know how to drive when a bit of snow falls. Some problems: driving too fast (duh, even with a four wheel drive, you can't really drive regular freeway speeds), driving too slow (on the other hand were people afraid to go anywhere near normal speed and they ended up getting stuck because they have no momentum to carry them over the slippery, hilly parts), and not being prepared (no chains available meant no go up many of the hills around here). Another note, if you have a front wheel drive car, it helps to NOT put the chains on the rear wheels (another duh).
  • It's best to stay home. It's not like we will be snowed in forever. A few days and all of this snow will be gone. Today, either because it was a weekend day or people decided not to risk it, most everyone in our neighborhood stayed home. Unless you are an emergency service provider, why risk it to get to work? Besides, everyone else will be home anyway so it isn't like your phone will be ringing off the hook at the office.
  • Being snowed in is a great time to catch up on little home projects that have been waiting. I got my files all sorted out for next year, a door knob fixed, and some writing caught up on. The spouse baked some bread, finished a sewing project, and cleaned out a closet. Overall a very productive day.
  • We broke out the cold weather gear. Since the first day of snow, our daily exercise has consisted of walking through the neighborhood, checking on an elderly neighbor, and walking out to check the main roads. This required gathering up all of the cold weather gear that hadn't been used since last winter. Insulated boots, socks, ski pants, long underwear, fleece jacket, parka, gloves, hat, etc. Now it is kept in a central location and ready to go. A recent apartment fire in the city pointed out that you need to have this gear ready to go. The poor people from the apartment were left standing outside in the snow as their building burned, some with only thin jackets. Not good. Be prepared.
  • Stay informed. If the power is on, this is easy. Simply check the website for your local newspaper, local department of emergency management, and local road department for updates. If the power is out, listen to your battery-operated radio or use your cell phone to check the aforementioned websites if possible.


  1. No sure where you are - from the description of the weather circumstances, sounds like it could be Seattle...anyway - we got dumped on here in CDA, ID - and I mean dumped. The weather system stopped when it got here - we have about 4 feet of snow by now (it started again yesterday & kept up overnight).

    I was fairly prepared (thanks to your blog and a couple of others) - didn't come in to work on Thurs or Fri - neighbors all worked together to get our "street" cleared enough for one lane (we live in town, but it's not city land, so the city doesn't maintain our road - it's not even paved.)

    The thing I was running out of... coffee beans! I have an AWD Subaru & could probably have gotten out to the cross street by Friday afternoon - glad I didn't! My daughter came by to pick me up because she was going to the store. There was the zoo! (But I did get my coffee beans!)

    But the streets were down to 2 lanes (barely) with no turn lanes and traffic was back up for blocks. Staying home was best. Did that til I came in to work today.

    Luckily, the snow was very light and weren't in any danger of losing power - except maybe from a traffic accident involving a power pole.

    I'd like to ask your opinion of the Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Heater. Uses propane; has a low-oxygen shut-off system. I don't have a very large area to heat (maybe 500 sf total, including bedrooms). A wood stove is out for now (have to talk to the landlords into that one :) )

  2. I live in northern Washington during most of the year and yes, we got walloped with snow (about 20 inches at last count). I am not familiar with the specific heater you asked about but any secondary heating system that is safe and fits in your budget is worthwhile to have. Be sure to have plenty of spare fuel (safely stored) and it is always a good idea to install a carbon monoxide detector too just to be safe.