We’ve had an uncharacteristically warm winter here in Upper Cryogenica. There was a surprise early snowstorm in October, and then…pretty much nothing. A few minor storms kept refreshing the snow layer in the backyard and maintaining it at sledding levels, but we totally missed out on the regular northern New England rock-‘em-sock-‘em, six-inches-of-snow-every-day-for-two-weeks type of storms.
It’s mid-March right now, and the snow has been melting for weeks. This is what the Castle looks like at present:
And the grounds in front of the portcullis:
And our road, being a dirt road, looks like this right now.
The town road crews are valiantly leveling the road and pouring gravel into the worst spots, but it’s warm, the glop is deep, and every time something heavier than a Smart Car drives down the road, there are ruts in it again deep enough to lose a herd of cattle in.
Robin’s Forester has been braving the mud heroically. (It’s about a mile to the nearest pavement.) My Grand Caravan has not yet had to face that challenge, but this afternoon, I have to spend my Dadcation over at the car place to get the leak in the AC system fixed. If you don’t hear from me again, send out some Navy Seahawks with dipping sonar.
So our driveway is about 200 feet long and unpaved. We had it finished with hardpack, and it’s fine most of the year, but when we have prolonged cold spells, it can be tricky for a front-wheel car to get up the incline to our house.
Well, we currently have a cold spell like that. The temperature has been around 20 during the day and in the negatives at night for a week or so now. The hardpack has been covered with snow a few times, scraped and shoveled, and left with a thin layer of snow that has frozen and smoothed out into something that now resembles one of those Olympic luge tracks. I have to park the Grand Marnier in the spot at the bottom of the driveway because the front-wheel drive does not do well when the driveway is all ice. The UPS, FedEx, and Sears service trucks have all had to capitulate and park at the bottom for their deliveries and service calls for the last few days.
Today I went out with the kids for the weekly grocery run. When I got back, I had to park at the bottom of the hill again and haul all the groceries up through the snow on the path through the Forbidden Forest, bypassing the driveway, because it was so icy I fell on my ass three times trying to walk up it. Took me twenty minutes to get all the groceries into the house. I was utterly convinced that the wife would not be able to make it up the hill tonight to park in her usual spot right next to the house.
Well, she gets in past dark, I see the headlights coming up the driveway…and the Subaru just trucks up the icy incline like it’s freshly laid gravel in the middle of July. She said she never felt a tire slip.
The Grand Marnier is nowhere near on its last leg, but when it’s time to replace it, I want a frickin’ Subaru too.
So how much snow did we get? Apparently, more than this place has ever gotten before Halloween, and by a fair amount.
We had about six to eight inches of snow on the ground on Sunday morning. Unfortunately, it was the kind of wet, heavy snow that is very difficult to clear with the snowblower. Fortunately, the wife has a new AWD vehicle, and a neat garage tent for it. That means she had to do no scraping whatsoever, and I didn’t have to bundle up and try to clear the driveway before she left for work on Sunday morning. The Subaru does much better in this kind of mess than her old Neon did, which is to be expected.
(The Grand Marnier actually does fairly well in the snow despite only being a front wheel drive vehicle. It’s a heavy car, with a big cast-iron engine sitting right on top of the driving axle, and with my leet drivezorz skillz, I can usually make it up our driveway.)
So yeah: ominous start into the snow season here in Upper Cryogenica. But the wife got to work on time, we didn’t lose power, and all the snow will be gone by mid-week because temps are going to be in the mid-50s.
For my readers in the Southern states, where it’s always summer and the driveways turn into molten rivers in August: that white stuff is what happens to rain when it gets cold enough.
Well, the storm has passed. The roads are pretty bad, especially out here in the dirt road outskirts of Upper Cryogenica, so Robin had a bit of trouble finding a route home that wasn’t blocked.
The Castle…well, look at this harrowing image of utter devastation:
Rebuilding will begin tomorrow morning…and end about two minutes later. We have a little bit of water in the garage, and one of the windows is a little leaky, but that’s the extent of it. We never even lost power. (Not that I’m complaining, mind you.)
That hurricane what is flooding the streets in NYC right now is heading right up the Connecticut River valley. Here’s the projected track:
See that light beige storm track going through the outline of New Hampshire? Castle Frostbite sits right in the middle of it. According to the weather druids, it’ll pass over us at 6pm tonight.
Right now we have quite a bit of rain and some decently strong winds. I expect it will pick up a little as the storm gets closer. We have power (obviously), but I fully expect it to go out at some point. We have the usual stash of supplies, and at least I don’t have to keep a wood stove going during summer outages. Still, no Internet for hours may turn out traumatic.
It’s April 23rd. This is the scene outside this morning:
No, it’s not going to stick. It’s just a subtle reminder from Mother Nature that in New England, you can’t be sure you’ve seen the last of the season’s snow until you can smell the sausages on the grill for the Fourth of July cookout.