Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It Snow Miracle

The US Weather Service is predicting that we'll get 13-18 inches of snow in the next 36 hours—accompanied by 30 mph winds, which should make for some Nepalese-scale drifts. Ufda!

My wife, Ma'ikwe, would call that a shit ton (that's a technical term, roughly equating to three gong loads, if I remember the conversion rates correctly). I can't ever recall a snow forecast where the low end of the range was more than a foot. It looks like we're going to really get dumped on. And I'm kinda excited about it.

We have plenty of food, plenty of wood, and plenty of good books. We even have plenty of skis, but I'm doubtful if anyone is going to brave tomorrow's whiteout for anything more adventurous than a trip to the chicken house. I plan to hunker down with a woodworking project, and not stray too far from the coffee pot.

There is something magical about being snowed in, watching flakes race by the window—from the comfort of a seat by the wood stove. Normal living is suspended. Going to town for a doughnut is out of the question. School will be canceled, and it will be a long day for Kim, our rural postal carrier. Maybe we'll start a jigsaw puzzle.

• • •
Predictions of an epic snow evoke memories of high school. When I was a senior (at Lyons Township, which we called LT, in the Chicago suburb of La Grange), we had a 24-inch snowfall Jan 26, 1967, and it paralyzed the city. It was just too much snow falling too fast, and the plows couldn't keep up. After struggling for hours on congested roadways, drivers abandoned their cars even on expressways, and pretty soon thereafter nobody was going anywhere. I remember how eerily quiet it was with no vehicle sounds for four days. The city shipped snow south in long freight trains because they had nowhere to dump it; the hopper cars they used had been built for hauling coal, but that week they were hauling cold.

The snow fell on a Thursday and my high school canceled classes Friday and Monday, representing only the second and third days in LT's 80-year history that school had been called off. It was a big deal. Maybe the blizzard heading this way will rival that monster of 44 years ago.

The title for today's blog also goes back to my days at LT. There was a popular youth center-cum-hang-out-scene just off campus called The Corral, and one of the main ways they raised operating funds was by selling tickets to a musical each spring that was written, directed, and performed by students. It would always be a pun-filled parody, and it happened that the Corral Show's musical for spring 1966 was a spoof of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs entitled, It Snow Miracle—cleverly planting the seed that would gestate nine months later into the spectacular Chicago snowfall of 1967. Life imitating Art. Or perhaps it was Nature trying to intimidate Life.
• • •
Two days from now I'm supposed to drive to Michigan, following in the wake of the storm. While the Weather Service promises that the skies will be clear by Thursday morning, who knows if the roads will be clear. Somebody's going to have to move a lot of snow to keep the highways open, and with 30 mph winds they'll have the pleasure of moving some of that snow multiple times.

It appears that here in northeast Missouri we're only going to get snow. While the amounts may be Brobdingnagian, I'm thankful that the dreaded ice belt will be south of us. There's a swath from St Louis to Indianapolis that's expecting up to an inch of ice—think prolonged power outages; overloaded tree branches snapping randomly and careening down on vehicles, roofs, and unsuspecting life forms; ice capades in two-ton vehicles at 40 mph. We're talking terror here. Interstate 70 may turn into the world's largest hockey rink and if you're driving there, you may be the puck.

All in all, I figure a shit ton of snow will be excitement enough.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps you don't remember I walked from my house to yours in that snow--and back again. Whew--and whew again.

Laird Schaub said...


What a treat to hear from you! I do indeed recall your walking to my house that weekend (I'm thinking it was Friday, but maybe it was Saturday). In fact, I actually thought about your coming over when I was composing my entry about the storm and that part of the story didn't make the cut on what I finally wrote about. It's touching to me to connect with you about that odd little moment we shared those carless days.

What a hoot that you stumbled onto my blog and read that entry.

Are you still in Champaign/Urbana?