ShaneHalbach.com

The Blizzard of 2011, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the thundersnow

So the great blizzard of 2011 came and went, and everybody survived, more or less.

My boss called Tuesday morning and told me to work from home. Last time there was a bad snow, it took me 3 hours to get home from work, so I wasn’t going to argue. I took the kids to daycare like normal and worked from home until about 2:30, when the snow and wind started to pick up. Then I picked them and Sara up, and we settled in for the night.

This thing was being billed as hell on earth, so I was actually pretty excited about it. It wasn’t snowing that hard, but the wind was blowing something fierce. I don’t remember a time in my life ever where the wind blew so hard, for so long. It was so windy that the snow didn’t really have time to settle, it pretty much just blew horizontal the entire time. The street lights were shaking, the power lines were shaking, and it just looked really nasty. The power flickered a few times, but never went out.

Our sidewalk was clear when the whole thing started, and when I went to bed it was still clear! The cars were clear too. Obviously the snow was building up, especially in places where the wind was leaving drifts, but I was a little disappointed because there had been all this hype about how much snow we were going to get. But the lack of snow should in no way take away from the impressiveness of the storm. The wind was whipping the snow around so hard, that it would have been impossible to get around in. I would have rather killed a man than had to go out into that storm.

One very impressive thing was that Metra kept the trains running through the storm. I can’t imagine what the wind must have been like up there on the elevated platform. I just think of that long train taking a full gust right to the side. It seems practically suicidal to be running up there, but I guess people were probably grateful to be able to get home. Plus it made me feel a little better: if those train operators felt safe enough to keep the trains running, then how bad could it really be down where I was?

Definitely the best part of the blizzard was the “thundersnow”. I had heard the phrase thrown around and I wanted to be a part of anything that awesome sounding. I had seen some lightning-snow, but I hadn’t yet heard any accompanying thunder until late Tuesday night. Totally made the blizzard! I will admit, there was some fist pumping. (Side note, someone get me a thundersnow parody to ACDC’s Thunderstruck, stat!)

In the morning, I rushed to the window to see how much the snow had built up. Pretty much the same as the night before! Again, a little disappointing. The cars to the left were drifted in, but to the right the road was clear. The sidewalk was still clear. “So much for this crummy snowpocalypse,” I grumbled.

However, sometime Wednesday morning, something like 17 hours after it had originally started snowing, it really kicked it up a notch. (All of the pictures, including those above, were from after this final hurrah.) We ended up with 22 inches on the ground when all was said and done, although, like I said, all the wind made it extremely patchy.

I had the honor of seeing a snowplow get stuck trying to plow the street. That was definitely the first time I’ve seen that one before. It’s nice to know that when a snowplow gets stuck, he just has to try to go forward and back until he gets out, like the rest of us. Eventually he drew a crowd and they got him out with shovels.

I have to say, it’s pretty cool to go through a storm of that magnitude and basically watch it all from the security of our warm house, and then shrug and say, “Goodnight!” I guess we’ve gotten to the point where the weather is somewhat irrelevant.

But did we stay in our nice warm house? Of course not! We took the kids out and played in the snow, and even got a few trips down the sled hill on the Midway. The snow was over my knees in a couple of places, not counting where the plow pushed it up deeper. Snow is kind of a mixed blessing for kids. It’s fun and out of the ordinary for about 10 minutes or so, and then it’s just too cold and wet and hard to walk. Oh well, we still had a good time. I pulled Evie in the sled running as fast as I could, and I thought I was going to hyperventilate and die.

So that’s it! SnOMG defeated. Been there, done that, rode the sled hill.

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