It was billed as the storm of the century. I don't watch network news yet still managed to hear the buzz. A major snowstorm was set to hit 33 states and bring the nation to a halt. Forecasters were calling for up to 20 inches of snow where we live, and 24 inches in Chicago. The hype was palpable. Snowpocalypse 2011 was due at 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 1st.
While I usually ignore such warnings because they're more hype than help, something told me to listen this time. I told the girls we were in for major weather, and to expect that we'd be stuck in the house for a day or more. The day before the blizzard the we went to store to stock up on PB&J, baked beans, and other non-perishable snacks. We had plenty of water and plenty of gas. I dug out the sleeping bags in case it got chilly, and asked Ryan to bring in 20 logs in case we lost power due to ice and high winds. And then we waited (and laughed heartily at all of the funny stuff people were saying... I saw reports of Yeti sightings!)
The snow started falling at 8:15 Tuesday morning. I sat alone in the kitchen with a cup of coffee, watching the flakes drift here and there. It was really beautiful, and it started piling up early on. At noon our city declared a state of emergency, and asked everyone to get off of the roads asap. Emily got home from school ok, and we went to pick up Nora. By 2:00, the blizzard had started. Driving was pretty scary, considering the wind was whipping the snow, which was coming down in considerable quantity and was very powdery in consistency. It was the worst visibility I had seen (or hadn't seen???) in town. Since we were out and about, we picked up Ryan as well, who was asked to leave work by 3pm.
It snowed, but life went on. Nora played My Little Pony. Emily demanded to play Angry Birds. Dinner was normal. The girls and I wore footie jammies and watched Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs in honor of the bizzaro weather. Emily went to bed at the regular time, and Nora and I enjoyed a roaring fire. By 9:00, Nora snuggled close to me because the wind was whipping not only around, but through, the house. The drafts were especially drafty, and snow managed to get onto the enclosed front porch. Nora and I turned out the lights and watched the snow. Maybe it would be more accurate to say we watched the wind. It was amazing...we heard the rumble of the wind as it approached, and when it reached a roar you could see the wind in the road. Snow came blowing and swirling, there were eddies and mini tornadoes flying by the house. Then the sound would lessen, and the snow would fall rather than blow, until the next gust. It reminded me of watching the waves come ashore. Nora felt like Dorothy.
Ryan woke me up the next morning and told me to look outside. HOLY MOLY!!!! We got 18.7 inches of snow. It was everywhere. I've never seen so much snow in all my life. The look on Nora's face when we opened the back door to a mountain of snow was priceless. SNOW DAY!!! Weeee!!!!
The dog and I were out at 8:45 am. She was a little confused, since she usually doesn't go in the front yard, but we couldn't get to the back. The snow made it on our covered stoop; the dog didn't know where the stairs were! We tromped through the snow laughing (and barking). Lacey kept getting stuck; I couldn't believe it was up to my knees. Some of the drifts were as high as my shoulders. I plodded a path to the backyard so Nora could come outside and play. As soon as I had snapped some pictures, I went back inside to fetch her. We played for about 30 minutes. She made snow angels, and pretended that the drifts were ocean waves that she "surfed", although it appeared she spent more time paddling than standing. Once we were too cold to play longer, we went inside.
However, the sun came out around noon, and it was so lovely I couldn't bear to stay in the house. Ryan had gone out to shovel the drive, and when I checked on him, I found him helping our neighbor Alex. We share a driveway, and due to the way the wind was blowing, the drifts had piled on her side, leaving our side bare in areas. I got a shovel and pitched in, because all together we had 3 cars to dig out. It was fun, helping out. We could hear other neighbors shoveling and laughing and snow-blowing too. By this time, the whole neighborhood had come alive. Nothing like a good natural disaster to bring people together.
Once the drive was cleared, I took both girls out to play. Emily was overwhelmed by the snow, because in places the drifts were higher than she was. Poor little girl got stuck more than once, but she had a good time. Miles joined in, and we spent another 60 minutes outside. Nora and Miles made a serious of moats and castles and islands. They had mapped out the backyard quite extensively before a pretend earthquake came and destroyed their village. Even prior to the "earthquake", I can say I was, for sure, absolutely exhausted by 3pm. It was an incredible 24 hours.
PS Thursday was a snow day too!! Weeeee!!!!