Friday, November 7, 2008

Big snow back home

Well, the first true blizzard of the year seems to have hit the Dakota's over the past day or so.

It's kind of early for such a strong storm, but I remember a lot of Halloweens where I wore a snowmobile suit under my costume for trick or treating. It gets cold and snowy up there early, and I don't remember a single year where our school year wasn't extended at least a week because of snow days.

Although the danger of such a strong storm, especially to people who were caught out driving or outdoors in it, are great, the plains need the moisture. The more snow they get this winter, the better. Especially if they have a slow warming in the spring and all that water doesn't end up in the Mississippi or the Red River as a massive flood. Got to recharge that aquifer.

Early storms like this can be gruesome. Trees that haven't lost their leaves will break under the weight of snow build up on branches that hold the snow instead of letting it slide off. Wildlife might not have finished their migrations to winter quarters, so you'll see some die-offs of geese, ducks, deer, antelope, and other animals. People who tried to drive through the snow are already stuck on highways waiting for help. Here's hoping it gets to them in time.

I've been in strong storms like this, and it's no fun. I remember being sent home from school early when I was in the 4th or 5th grade because of an approaching storm, and having to carry/drag my brother from snow drift to snow drift and tree to tree through winds so strong we had to crawl under them. Not sure what my teachers were thinking by letting us walk home, but we're lucky the only thing we got was frost-nipped ears and noses.

And losing your power in a storm like this can be a killer. For some reason, one of the houses we grew up in had electric heat, but a gas stove. If the electricity cut out, I would have to turn on all 4 burners and the oven, which kept the kitchen at least warm. Not fun, not fun at all.

Cattle always end up having problems with such strong early storms. Come the spring, if this storm is the beginning of true winter, a lot of farmers are going to find some of their cows frozen standing up in some low spot in their pasture. Cows tend to bunch up for warmth when they're caught out in the open in a snow storm, and the herd will head to low ground to get out of the wind. Eventually, they'll freeze to death and get buried by drifting snow, and in April the whole herd will be uncovered as the snow melts. Not a pretty picture.

So, to my family and friends still living in the Great White North, stay warm, stay together, and stay safe. Remember, 30 below keeps the rif-raf out, and only the best come north.

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