Minnesota Blizzard Pt 2

This Blizzard of 2010 has come and gone and I am kind of hoping we have a few more. 

Snow Bird. Minneapolis, MN.

On days like today a guy really wants to have his 12-year-old Ford Explorer to…well, go exploring!  Sadly, my toy is in the body shop and I have a wimpy little Toyota that wouldn’t put a dent in snow like this.  I was stuck close to home.  No exploring.

I  found several opportunities to push stuck cars back onto the road and at least two of those cars were four-wheel drive SUVs…kind of.  They were the upmarket luxury SUV models.  Saab, Lexus.  That sort of thing.  Not really much of an improvement over a minivan from a utilitarian perspective, but they can sell the appeal of a rugged SUV in a dandied-up luxury car this way.  The poor owners believe they can cross any barrier in them and then they get hung up in a foot or two of snow.

One guy in particular did not seem pleased with the performance of his four-wheel drive investment.  He got caught on a corner that was getting everyone.  He had one of those luxury SUVs and certainly saw the commercials promoting his car plowing through deep Colorado snows before he bought his and thought it was the perfect car for Minnesota.  It didn’t work so well. 

The snow caught the bottom of the car and he was stuck.  The only thing burning more than he was were the tires spinning beneath him.  Every time we thought we had him out, he got stuck again.  Then again.  And again.  (This was the pattern today.)  At one point he made his wife get out the car.  We’ll make no comment about that.

After some effort with shovels and shoulders, a small group of us finally got him on his way.  Feeling his release and freedom, he just drove away, bumping over snow ridges and skidding dangerously close to snowbanks.  And as I watched him hurry down the narrow street I thought how much getting a car out of a snowbank like that and then watching it drive off was like releasing wildlife back into the wild.  Off you go, little car…be careful next time!

I had had enough of digging and pushing after that one…working up a sweat at zero degrees can be a problem if you plan to be outside for a while…so I decided to walk toward the lake where the roads were so choked no one was driving.  So much more peaceful there.  I took several pictures, but they all turned out in a dark sepia tone.   

Lake Harriet Snow & Skier.

Was it the cold or my thick gloved fingers?  I don’t know.  I could only save a couple in an acceptable grey scale.

You’ll have to take my word for the snow’s depth:  Nearly 18 inches.  I tried to take multiple measurements and most were right around 17 inches, some higher.  Not bad for Minneapolis.

And it is such perfect snow; light and dry, great for skiing.  It is also good for building a shelter.  I’ll quickly tell you how you do it.  You pile up as much snow as you can into a large mound.  Try to get it at least four feet high if not five or more, and ten feet around.  Collect a few dozen skinny sticks at least a foot long.  Push the sticks 8-12 inches  into your pile of snow so your mound looks like a balding porcupine.  Now go and relax for an hour or two.  The snow will “cure” and settle into a crust.  When that happens you can hollow out the inside which will still be mostly loose and light.  The sticks you stuck into the pile will let you know that you are nearing the edge of the shell.  You want at least 8 inches of shell, if not more, to create  good insulation.  Snow IS an excellent insulator.  You can crawl into your snow shelter and stay out of the wind and the bitter nighttime cold that follows heavy storms like this.  It works.

But nothing is better than a cozy warm bed on a cold winter night.  Thunderstorms offer beauty and excitement of a different kind.  They are flashy and loud and end too quickly.  Blizzards keep a person company for many hours, and even if it is a cold comfort, it has a way of making one feel especially warm and comfortable when the storm is outside and you’re quietly asleep inside. 

Those poor Tahitians.


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