Storm lands a knock-out blow

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Blogging in the dark. Well, I do have the backlight of my lap top, and I do have a flashlight nearby. It’s been a long time since we’ve experienced a power outage. All of the flashlights were dead, but one had a glimmer of light that helped me navigate to my phone that had been charging, which then led me to a bag with batteries. We’ve got plenty of flash lights. The best light is a motion sensor that we’ve been meaning to mount outside, but it’s nice that it is still portable.

I found a couple of blinking lights to put on two of the dogs so we don’t trip on the invisible Labradors. I did just trip on Lucy; she’s the only one that doesn’t have a blinking red light warning me of the blocked passage. My dogs are not very good at getting out of the way when I’m trying to walk by.

The loss of power is not unexpected. When I was outside earlier, there were branches coming down left and right. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but every few minutes I could hear the slow snapping sound of large limbs and then the sound as they plummeted to earth. We’ve got some mighty large Firs around here. Sylvia had done her good deed earlier by removing some rather large limbs from the road. One limb had taken a power cord down with it, knocking the power out across the street. And then later on, Sylvia was out and watched a power line catch fire, and then we lost power. There’s this small cul-de-sac that has underground cables, and they are the only houses for quite a range that has lights. This would be probably a good time to catch a star show as there won’t be any light pollution to get in the way. The TV towers are now blinking their usual red lights. I suspect if I went out there, I would only see white clouds.

Right before the power went off, I was working on a blog about the storm. I had written:

If the Pacific Northwest were in a boxing match against Winter, the decision would go to Winter. Our storm has been described as having three punches. I’m not sure which blows have landed and which are right around the corner. I’m not even sure if Thursday’s storm is part of this weekend’s storm.

When I went to bed Wednesday night, I knew that there was a possibility of snow. Not enough ice cubes in the toilet or spoons under the bed or not enough kids slept with their pajamas inside out because we only had perhaps an inch of snow on the ground. Northern cities, like Albany got hit the heardest and cancelled school. I-5 was one pile-up after another. When universities start to close down, you know the roads are not safe. Oregon State University closed.

I was at Churchill High School, one of my favorite schools to work at this year. It’s only five minutes away, though this commute was probably a 25 minute trek. My Subaru Forrester took the snow like a duck on water; no fish-tailing, but I was creeping down Blanton Road, creeping down Chambers Street. I don’t live on Blanton Heights, which is considerably higher than Blanton Road, but our 950.23 elevation is quite different than that of Churchill High School at 408.4. When I arrived at school there was just a dusting of snow on the ground, but because of the varied elevations surrounding the school, buses were delayed. Frankly I was shocked that we had school. This is an area that’s been known to cancel school just due to the forecast of snow.

Thursday it kept snowing. Nearby school districts tossed in the towel and declared an early dismissal. Sylvia called me and said that she saw on the news that the Eugene School District announced an early dismissal. I shouldn’t have revealed this information to my students; I was amazed at how quickly they were packed up and out the door; didn’t realize high school students could move that fast. After they fled, an announcement said that the school was not getting out early and everyone should be in class. I felt like I was being chastised personally. Guess this is one of those lessons I learned the hard way.

But I wasn’t the only one. When Lane Community College closed their doors, and the Eugene 4J Schools were still open, this was an unprecedented occurrence. Cars started to line up to pick students up. Word got out that one of the rival high schools had made an independent decision to let their kids out early, but Churchill was sticking to their guns.

The class after lunch was supposed to have twenty-eight students. There were four. The school did encourage students who did not have fifth or sixth period classes, especially those students who drove, to go home. The rest of us stayed.

Meanwhile, my five minute drive home took about an hour. I didn’t go the typical route up Chambers Street as that’s a very steep hill, so I drove around. I was a little nervous as cars were passing me on Willamette Street, and since the roads were not paved, you couldn’t tell where the lanes were. I was worried that it would just be one slip of an impatient or inexperienced driver would cause a pileup.

And the snow kept coming. There was absolutely no way there would be school Friday. I had no plans of moving off the hill until Monday. I was supposed to bowl a tournament, but that would be have been just crazy to tempt fate especially with the three punch storm.

The first blow came from the south. I think that is what they were calling the Pineapple Express, winds coming from Hawaii. Sleet. Depending upon the fighter, I imagine the first blow to be a left-handed blow. The second one, more like a upper-cut with the right came from the other direction with a nasty cold front, though the south winds were still getting their jabs in. The snow and ice have been hard on the trees and limbs as they bend with hopes of sloughing the snow off, but they are not as flexible as they used to be, and I sure can relate with them, and Snapping, and Popping, and Crackling have been heard all over as if the Gods were enjoying a big bowl of Rice Krispies.

I don’t think we’ve seen the third blow. According to one internet page, we’re supposed to be getting a “bent back occlusion.” The storm doesn’t really need to hit us with this final blow since it’s already knocked us into the dark.

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