Stories told

February snows

I complain about Indiana winters, but that’s because during my 1970s and 1980s South Bend kidhood I shoveled enough snow to last a lifetime and it soured me on the whole season. Lake Michigan being only 20 miles away, lake-effect snow squalls dump more than 80 inches of snow on the city in an average year. 80 inches! That’s more than many cities you might associate with winter weather. Anchorage gets 71 inches on average. Toronto gets 52 inches. Milwaukee gets 47 inches. Minneapolis gets just 45 inches, the piker. (Syracuse, New York, gets 117 inches. Props to Syracuse.)

My back yard

Indianapolis gets less than 30 inches of snow in an average year, almost all of it falling in December, January, and February. We get one or two good dumpings a season. It’s not enough to justify buying a snow blower! I’d spend as much time maintaining its engine every year as I’d spend clearing snow with it.

We’ve had three good snows in the past couple weeks, leaving about a foot on the ground. These snows would have been non-events in South Bend, but here they’re big deals. TV news went wall-to-wall on the weather. I swear they covered every snowflake as it fell. And it’s not officially a winter storm until all the local stations have interviewed the mayor live from the salt barn.

You see, we don’t get enough snow here for the city to justify a serious snow-removal budget. The main roads are cleared, but many side roads and most neighborhoods (like mine) remain snow covered. And it doesn’t snow often enough that people build good snow driving skills, and most drivers compensate by just creeping along. So even when we get just a light dusting, the main roads are thick with overly cautious traffic. The first time it snowed this year, my 20-minute commute took 90 minutes, 30 of which were at a dead stop. The more it snows, the greater the delay; once, after a six-inch snowfall, my commute took four and a half hours.

So I try to watch the forecasts and plan ahead. Whenever I know it’s going to snow, I bring my laptop home with me from work. I can be productive anywhere there’s wireless Internet! It sure beats fighting the traffic.

When I lived in Terre Haute, we got a lot of ice storms. Check out some photos I took after one blew through.

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13 thoughts on “February snows

  1. Chris Rowland says:

    It’s a good thing that central Indiana drivers creep along in the snow after you tally up how many of them still end up in a ditch. I prefer people without skills to stay cautious instead of involving me in their accidents.

    On another note, our Mayor’s neighborhood liaison said something about the Indy city county council voting to endorse the Michigan Road. Word is getting out!

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    • I met with the Franklin Twp. CoC Economic Development Committee yesterday to do the Michigan Road presentation. I met your neighborhood liaision there. I didn’t know there was any talk about this going before the city council — just that this would go to the full CoC for consideration of support!

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  2. Lone Primate says:

    Man, you’ve got a class fence in your backyard. Looks especially cool in a snowfall. :)

    Wow, jeez, Syracuse gets nailed. I always felt sorry for Buffalo, but even they must feel bad for Syracuse. I had no idea. :)

    We haven’t done too badly on the north side of Lake Ontario this year. There’s only been really impressive dump, and that was early in December. Since then it’s been mostly flurries and two or three inches here and there. Without the numbers, these things are subjective, but my sense of it is we’ve had a relatively mild winter this year. Mind you, having said that, I’ve probably set us up for a whopper… :)

    The one I really remember was the winter of 1998-1999. People were still golfing in December. It was gorgeous; it was like Georgia. Then came the new year, and BAM, it’s like we got everything we didn’t get in November and December in two days. I can remember shoveling the driveway with two other grown men, and having to start all over again by the time we reached the street! Sorest I can ever remember my back being.

    Why any of you live north of the Mason-Dixon Line is a puzzle to me. :)

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    • My back yard is actually quite unattractive — overgrown with weeds, branches down, bricks piled up. It looks good only under cover of snow! Bit by bit, when the weather’s nice, I hack away at the mess back there. At the rate I’m going, it’ll be 2020 before the back yard is in order.

      An engineering school chum lives in Syracuse. He always calls it Snowacuse.

      I’ve had a couple years here where I was out on the tractor in late November sucking up leaves — wearing shorts and T-shirts. So I know what you mean!

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      • Lone Primate says:

        …Of course, having said what I said, now the forecast is for snow in 1-2″ daily parcels for the next eight days or so, as the temp wiggles back and forth across the freezing point. Just enough to make the driving an adventure. Alas. :)

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  3. ND Envirochick says:

    In Kentucky, we get a lot of ice storms. The ice storm of January 2009 made national news; our house went 8 days without power in very frigid weather. It didn’t help that I was nearly 8 months pregnant at the time. This January, we got quite a bit of snow over several different snow events in a week or two and it stayed around for at least a week after the final snowfall (that’s a long time down here).

    As for Kentucky drivers, half of them go 10 mph in the snow, the other half figure they should hurry home to get off the roads as quickly as possible. So it’s a complete madhouse.

    I miss the South Bend snows. Christmastime is particularly dreary around here. We went home (to South Bend) for Christmas this year and it did not disappoint – a white Christmas, and several more inches on the 26th. It was pure bliss.

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    • Sounds like that last ice storm was fun for you! As for snow, sure, it’s lovely to look at. And in a place like South Bend where they know how to drive in it, the day-to-day with it isn’t so bad. But still, somebody’s gotta get it off the driveway, and that’s where it crosses the line with me!

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  4. Pat says:

    Remember what would have been your senior year? I was Riley ’87 – we missed a whole week of school due to the snow in Feb. ’85. Good times. Great blog, BTW.

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