Sunday, October 18, 2009

Early Snow

It was halfway through October, the afternoon of 10/15, when it started snowing. It was too early for snow. The leaves were still on the trees, some of the trees still green, when a the wet mush started falling. The temps weren't even freezing. But it snowed all night--6 inches.

I went to bed angry. I was certain it would all freeze overnight. I can deal with a certain amount snow. What I DON'T like dealing with is when snow melts, then freezes, leaving your car embedded in the middle of an ice cube. I needn't have worried. The temperatures remained just above freezing.

I heard snow falling off the roof and the tree outside my bedroom in soft thuds all night. In the early morning I heard a sharp crack and a louder crash, but I assumed that it was just more snow, falling off all at once in the sun. Once again, I was wrong. Large branches had fallen off the tree in front of my window.

Six inches of snowfall is normal here, but more a mid-winter phenomenon. October was early, and yes, it was a lot for a first snowfall. However, my morning was completely unremarkable, and my gas-heated apartment was warm. I started my drive to school completely oblivious to the disruptions the snow had caused.

The roads were clear of snow, but there was plenty of debris. Broken branches were everywhere--the trees couldn't bear the weight of the wet snow on the leaves. On my way to school, two stoplights were blacked out.

Parts of the campus were closed off. A mass e-mail went out to all the students advising them to stay away from certain tree-lined walkways because of falling branches. It was homecoming weekend, but no one was allowed to camp out by the stadium (as is customary) due to the continuing snow and the threat of dropping temperatures. The parade was postponed. The homecoming coronation was moved inside, and no one was allowed to park on the grass lots--and there are more grass lots around the stadium than paved areas. Instead, the University called the area shopping centers, and asking to use their parking lots for game day parking.

Once I got to school Friday morning, I heard from classmates that had lost power, and even heat. The news reported 12% of the town was without power. The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter in a nearby elementary school. Today, Saturday morning, I got an e-mail from my church pastor saying that if anyone was still without power (like his family) to feel free to call his cell, and that the church would try to get them a temporary place to stay.

Of course, the first snow also brings out people's sense of fun. As I was leaving school on Friday afternoon I saw that someone(s) had made a snow sofa and a snow TV, complete with willow whip antennas.

Photos are here: Snow Day

Addendum: The National Weather Service has reported that this was the earliest local snowfall in recorded history.