Posts tagged: snow
Good morning, Netizens…
It's here! It's here!
After nearly a week spent forecasting doom and gloom about winter snowfall coming and destroying most lifeforms in the Pacific Northwest, the snow actually began arriving, bringing with it winter, just yesterday. Almost immediately the streets began more closely resembling skating rinks than public thoroughfares. Before anyone construes that I am casting aspersions on the good character of Spokane Public Works Department snow removal technicians, much less our new Mayor, it typically takes a few days of snow piled hock-deep on the middle of our street before I begin growling to myself.
We haven't gotten that far YET. We have a few people who haven't learned (or remembered) how to drive on snowy roads. A four-wheel-drive does not automatically give you the right to drive at ludicrous speeds on icy streets anytime of your choosing. There is a law for that: it is called gravity, and you might do well to heed it before driving too fast on the roads today.
Egads, it's winter. Finally. Now everybody can quit bitching about how we haven't had any winter weather.
Good morning, Netizens…
I knew, as soon as I crept forth from my bed this morning, that during the early morning hours, some of that wretched snow would fall. Both my wife and I suffer in later life with what I call “weather joints”; whenever the weather is going to change, particularly if it involves moisture in any form or at least a change in the barometric pressure, our joints remonstrate with us about it, more often than not in advance. We both have known this weekend was going to be a meteorological “busy” time, with several weather fronts moving through the area.
An old shoulder injury and a faulty kneecap both were taking front row seats as soon as I hit the deck, muttering such inanities as, “Here's a little pain to start you on your way, Sunny Dave” and “You deserve this, you know!”
Our overnight half-inch snowfall contribution wasn't all that much, although the gusty winds last evening contributed its fair share of downed trees, power lines in the streets and general mayhem, most of which appears to have been repaired overnight. Areas of the South Hill and the outlying areas of Spokane appeared to have been hit the hardest, and although we in the near north side did not appear to have lost power not even once. The one positive note about last evening is that all the leaves from our pair of aspen trees that hadn't already hit the ground did so, and the leaves that had fallen were neatly moved into the neighbor's lawn, thus negating the need for us to rake leaves. Good move, Mother Nature, and thank you!
Today is the first day of the annual Fall Folk Festival, but this year, unlike nearly a decade in the past, neither of us nor our granddaughters will be in attendance for a remarkable number of reasons, a few of which I will elaborate upon at another time in the near-future. The Fall Folk Festival is a good show and it's still free which matters a great deal, even here in budgetary-challenged Spokane.
Of course, our Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick, has announced to the news media that she is retiring by January. All things being equal, you will pardon me if I rebut her comments with an admonition for her not to let the door out hit her in the butt. Of course, as always, your opinions and ideas are worthy. As I always say, it's another day in paradise! Try to ignore the snow.
Good evening, Netizens…
I have crawled from, beneath my rock to peer at the snow ratcheting from the sky just in time to receive an e-mail from Marty advising me that the temperature in Arizona, where he is visiting, is 65 degrees and sunny. My immediate response to MHibbs was to tell him to beat feet for home so he can join us in our suffering.
Just when we thought we had seen the end of winter, it has arrived once again and, once more, Mayor Queen Mary of Spokane, citing the City Budget, will ignore the need for snow removal until the Big Thaw hits us once again. Then we will get to deal once more with the cratars in our streets. Ah, life in Spokane!
Good afternoon, Netizens…
It began snowing on the Lower Sourth Hill at approximately 10:00 AM and it took less than an hour for the streets and the freeway of Spokane to degenerate into a bumper car race. Two of three hills I drove over were largely impassable, and the freeway was largely closed between the Argonne and the Hamilton Street exits with multiple fender-benders lining both sides of the roadway. KHQ-TV put the carnage on the freeway at 15 vehicles, but given the number police, fire and ambulances in attendance it truly was hard to tell.
Nevada Street hill had its own count of slide-offs, and the backups caused by that only added to the confusion. Expecting this, I wisely took a side street and made it back home safely.
Why, oh why do we keep revisiting this same inept scenario, with ample warning of foul weather approaching, with snow predicted, and the hours after the storm arrives our streets and roadways degenerate into mayhem? I do not claim to have understanding, nor can I ascertain the reasons why our local government continues to allow this scenario to play out, over and over again.
However, I know it is unacceptable.
Good morning, Netizens…
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God we’re free at last!
At approximately 3:45 AM PST this morning a road grader of unknown ancestry arrived on Morton Street accompanied by a city snow plow and plowed Morton four times (and eventually Glass Street twice) as well as could be expected after over a week. After digging out our cars from the huge berms the plow/grader created, once more our lives will be semi-normal, and once more the school bus will arrive on time and we can go to work.
Now before Queen Mary Verner takes credit for this, I hasten to remind Netizens that since I regularly travel throughout the Spokane Valley I can state with absolute certainty that the residential streets in Spokane Valley were plowed clean as of Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The problem, as I see it, is that Queen Mary is unable, for whatever reasons, to manage the union plow and grader drivers. It is readily apparent sitting on her throne in City Hall, she is unable to ascertain the true conditions of the residential streets after a snow fall. One suggestion from several others is perhaps Queen Mary should get out of City Hall more often and simply follow one of the city plow drivers around, as always in the interest of keeping them honest.
I am aware that an individual has already offered the City of Spokane the services of various Mormons armed with heavy-duty four wheel drives to help those in need. To date, there has been no response forthcoming from City Hall, but that comes as no surprise. Queen Mary only does press conferences.
That is perhaps suitable material for the next mayoral election.
At any rate, we are glad to be free once more to be able to conduct our lives more or less as we need to in order to survive.
Good morning, Netizens…
Actually, I should address this to Queen Verner, Mayor of our fair city, because I hold her directly responsible for the incredible lack of effort being made to make our streets safe.
I am sick to death of this crap and I’m not going to take it much longer!
We go to work each day and pay our taxes just like most of Spokane’s gainfully employed and we get pretty much the same services as everyone else EXCEPT when it comes to snow removal along our residential streets. Based upon our experiences from two years ago, we should have learned that actually sending a snow plow down our street is, at best, a half-hearted attempt, as two years ago they barely plowed the snow and piled up huge berms against vehicles that were parked on the right side of the street. We spent two days digging out of the result of having city plows clear our street, and we were even parked on the right side of the street.
This year, what do we have? Well, for starters, we have a school bus stuck in front of Willard School, and none of the streets in the vicinity of the school have been plowed. All side streets, from Bridgeport and Morton (and far beyond) are virtually impassable.
This morning the kids that wait every day at Morton and Glass to catch the school bus waited for over an hour and finally, resigned to their fates, simply started hiking up Morton to school because the school bus was stuck.
Then I can speak about Glass Street, itself. It has not seen a snow plow or grader running with its blade to the ground since last winter. Oh, but to be honest, thus far this week we have seen at least two city plows running with their blades aloft running down the street, their drivers unquestionably on overtime with benefits, but unconcerned with the mess of ruts and berms that sit on the pavement.
Is it time to outsource our snow removal? Is it time to put the contract with the unions in the trash can and find something that works? Is it time the City of Spokane started keeping their promises to those of us who live on residential streets?
I want to know.
Good morning, Netizens…
David Horsey’s cartoon this morning summarizes conditions yesterday in Seattle and points beyond, but it is inclusive of our humble pie in Eastern Washington, with the exception this morning when, although the roads are relatively clear, the thermometer sank into record-setting mode. As of 5:15 AM this morning, temperature outside the door to the Virtual Ballroom was sitting at zero, although the weather moguls are all jumping up and down, pointing eagerly at the minus 5 degree temperature at the airport, as if it justifies their existence. As often is the case the further outside the city lights you go, the colder it gets. Having lived in various other locations across the United States, I’ve been in colder places at or before the dawn. Call in the pets, put on an extra blanket or two and snuggle up if the opportunity presents itself.
Yesterday’s commute, in a few words, was financially illuminating, at least from the perspective of tow truck companies who remained busy all morning during the commute. As the illustrious Mhibbs pointed out with bare-faced elegance, he was able to travel throughout most of the City of Spokane with ease, once all the people with bald tires and/or lack of driving skills had been towed out of the way from whatever uncomfortable position they found themselves. In the words of my own beloved, road conditions after the commute hour mayhem were actually quite good once she crossed over the line to Spokane Valley where they applied copious amounts of sand and salt to nearly all intersections. What a concept, applying sand and gravel to intersections!
Take the money the City of Spokane regularly pays out to various indiscretions of the past (that will not be mentioned by me) and apply it to street maintenance and the problem simply evaporates.
Today is purported to be one of the busiest travel days of the entire year, but for me and mine we are having as little of it as possible, as we have already purchased our victuals for the Thanksgiving Day feast and aside from any last-minute provision runs, we will be staying close to home. Although we are not having mince meat pie, my beloved has promised me the culinary delight of pumpkin cheesecake, so we will be more than adequately provisioned for Thanksgiving Day, hunkering down and as prepared as one can be.
Seattle, much like Spokane proper, it seems, is unable to cope with any amount of snow at the onset of a storm for differing reasons perhaps, but the net result is quite similar.
Good morning, Netizens…
If you are smart little Netizens, you are probably still huddled up in bed beneath a wealth of covers and perhaps the family dog because it is cold outside this morning. My comments about the blizzard warnings yesterday may have been premature or at very least, somewhat inaccurate for areas outside Spokane’s urban area.
I received an e-mail message from a farmer friend who lives by Odessa who tells me he has a five foot snow drift across the end of his lane and is in a whiteout condition. He would take his heavy-duty tractor and solve that problem, but since the school is closed today, nobody in the house has anywhere they really need to go. Besides, so long as the wind keeps blowing the snow drifts would simply reinstitute themselves as fast as he removes them. His solution was to make coffee, feed the livestock and watch the snow blowing sideways across his barn yard.
The overall word according to those that know is once you travel outside town, where there are no buildings or trees to slow or mediate the effect of the wind, snow drifts have become commonplace overnight. Roads are closed, some schools are closed or delayed and travel is ill-advised in most areas outside Spokane’s inner core.
I wouldn’t qualify this as a blizzard in some areas, but it certainly comes close.
As for Spokane, the main streets for the most part have been plowed in a disultory fashion, and in most cases that is about all you get. Hence once the morning commute actually gets started, we probably could see a version of the bumper car game that will keep our streets and freeways tied up for hours.
Once we recover from all this, tonight it will be frigid with temperatures slated to fall below zero, thus breaking temperature records.
Good evening, Netizens…
Oh, perdition on it all! The National Weather Bureau has issued a blizzard warning for most of the Inland Northwest tonight beginning at 7:00 PM and lasting until tomorrow morning. Now I will have to whip out some of my old and true stories about what a real blizzard is like, not one of these half-baked Spokane blizzards, such as the one we endured two years ago. That wasn’t really a blizzard; that was just a lot of snow with a city that doesn’t have the training nor resources to deal with deep snow.
Now a blizzard, at least in the inter-mountain and Great Plains regions, is an entity to fear; you must be prepared for it and take speedy and effective action if one is coming your way or you may die.
According to meteorology a blizzard is defined more or less as a combination of high winds (typically 40 MPH or higher), frigid temperatures of less than 20 degrees and snow, either blowing or newly fallen variety.
I remember my first blizzard which took place in the late 1960’s. We were driving approximately 45 miles on a state highway when we first encountered the storm and within a matter of twenty minutes we found ourselves unable to see the road, with blowing and drifting snow and a wind of over 50 MPH blowing snow across the road. We were told by the state highway patrol to take shelter at Saint Anne School as the road ahead and behind us was closed. By that night the National Guard delivered food and beds to the high school gymnasium, the wind outside was gusting over 75 miles per hour which rattled the windows in the high school. Snow plows were stuck and hundreds of drivers stranded in the 20 foot high snowdrifts on both sides of the town.
I also remember another blizzard from 1980-something, one which closed Interstate 80 for over 100 miles, where I ended up parking my truck for four days in Little America, a huge car and truck complex in Wyoming State. There were over 1600 people stranded that time, and again the National Guard were able to see to our basic needs with trucks full of cots, food and medical supplies. The winds blew steadily at between 50 and 75 miles per hour, with over a foot of new snow with drifts over 20 feet high and visibility near zero. The temperatures the last two nights of what was termed a “super storm” dropped down into the teens which put an increased impetus on the rescue of those still stranded along the freeway.
They have at least one or two blizzards each year in the Dakotas which are equal to or exceed the powerful storms I have recalled.
This is not a blizzard, folks. At nearly ten o’clock at night, I can see still the neighbors house across the street and the street lights three blocks in any given direction. It is snowing fitfully and the streets are still marginally passable, although quite slick in places. But a blizzard? No, this is hardly a blizzard such as those I have known in parts of the Midwest and Western States.
This is just a winter snow storm with some wind and frigid temperatures. Your results may differ, of course, depending upon whether you are outside the city lights where the wind and snow can combine to drift snow.
Good morning, Netizens…
It is Thursday morning and egods it’s here! When I arose at about 3:30 this morning, it was snowing outside, and although it was sticking on the lawn and atop the vehicles, the streets on the North Side of Spokane were navigable, even by Spokane’s marginal standards, although I would wager that the South Hill and other higher areas of the city would be seeing different results.
What truly rattled my sense of humor is that Westbound Snoqualmie Pass was apparently closed for a short time this morning until everyone got their winter driving wings firmly attached by the Washington State Patrol. In this generation of bio-engineering isn’t there a human DNA gene that causes people to drive over mountain passes with bald tires with no tire chains?
However, at 5:00 AM this the passes are open and most major streets in Spokane are wet. Depending upon whether you are driving on bald tires, your travel times may differ.
Welcome to the new frontier. It’s that special time of year.