Blizzard Of 2013: Part I

Some called it Winter Storm Nemo. Others called it the Blizzard of 2013, the Nor’easter of 2013, or Storm Charlotte. Call it what you will…but this February snowstorm is bound to be included in the record books as one of the more significant snowstorms to hit our area.

View of houses, Houstonic River, LI Sound, and dissipating storm clouds

The early morning hours of Saturday, February 9th, 2013, saw gusting winds, dissipating storm clouds, and much accumulated snow and wind-blown drifts. If you can imagine the clouds steadily drifting and a fierce, howling wind, that’s pretty what this scene was like first hand. Just beyond these houses are the lower Housatonic estuary, and Long Island Sound.

From my own perspective, I’ve never seen this much snow here, ever. And I’ve lived in this region all my life. The snow began falling around 6:30 or so yesterday (Friday, February 8th, 2013) morning, and continued building throughout the day. All that evening, and into the next morning, we were buffeted by strong winds and driving snow fall.

Weighted mountain laurel branches and deep snow on main path to house.

At the front door, on Saturday morning, I was greeted by a much weighed-down mountain laurel and deep snow blocking the front path.

Heavily piled snow on bushes.

…and this was the view to the right of the entry way.

By late morning, the storm was largely over, except for the gusting winds. But the snow accumulation was considerable. Stratford officially received about 32″, while neighboring Milford got 38″, and Hamden, farther inland, recorded 40″. But the drifts caused by the strong winds were much higher than these figures in many spots.

House and deep snow covering street and buried SUV.

Just beyond the entry way, one could see the street covered by a deep layer of snow, and that one of the residents across the road unfortunately had left his SUV out. Not a single snowplow was in sight, nor could reasonably be expected.

All in all, much of New York, New Jersey, and southern New England were affected, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. But according to the news reports, Connecticut and the Boston area seemed hit about the hardest, receiving, on average, about three feet of snow.

Snow covered street and late afternoon sun.

A view down the street a bit later in the afternoon. The road was graced by snowdrifts of varying heights, as far as the eye can see.

But, fortunately, the snow at least was relatively dry and powdery.

At the Poole Ancestral Homestead, in Stratford, where I’d spent the night, drifting snow blocked the front storm door, and made it impossible to open.

Snow piled up against exterior storm door.

A great deal of snow had drifted up against the exterior storm door, and made it impossible to open, no matter how hard I tried to force the door outward.

So I lowered the front window, and basically dived head-first out of it, right onto the high pile of snow below.

Storm door with much snow before it.

Of course, after diving out the opened window, and then getting up, I compacted and displaced much of that same snow, or so it seemed. I still couldn’t open the door until I cleared the snow away with a shovel. Note the crater in the foreground from my graceful head plant. Only my pride was hurt…

Then cleaned myself off and started clearing it all away.

Snow cleared away and door finally opened.

A bit of snow cleared away, and the door finally opened.

The neighbors meanwhile (while not laughing at my antics) were busily clearing their driveway and attempting to free their cars. You can get a good idea for how deep the snow actually was from the following two photos:

Digging a car out of the snow.

Our neighbor removing much snow from around his buried car at the end of the driveway.

Neighbor standing behind deep snow wall.

Our other neighbor just visible above the high snow wall that remained.

I devoted the next hour or so to clearing a path to the main sidewalk, digging my way through the deep snow drifts, which in one case I measured as high as about 45″.

Cleared path through deep snow.

The path I finally cleared, which amounted to only about a quarter of all the work I actually need to do. But this was was quite a bit of hard work in itself.

Shovel against snow wall.

The snow was deepest at this point at the end of my path, about 45″. A few more feet of digging will finally connect us to our neighbor’s pathway.

The street was covered by large drifts and completely impassable. So I suspect it’s going to be a few days before any of us manage to get out of here.

Convertible fleece mitten and fingerless glove.

The hand apparel of choice for the committed snow blogger / Tweeter is a fleece Thinsulate mitten whose cover can be flipped back in an instant to expose one’s fingers (but not if it’s too cold, of course…).

One thing I love is the variety of shapes often carved in accumulated snow by heavy winds on the lee sides of many structures. Below is an interesting wind-blown shape on the flat metal roof of our side porch:

Wind-carved snow formation on roof of side porch.

A wind-blown “molding” of snow, with an almost perfectly symmetrical section.

A few readers might be wondering if all this snow accumulation is going to necessitate another roof raking exercise, as I’d written about nearly two years ago in a past article recently republished here as Snow Screeding Fluffy Slabs. That’s a good question, and the answer is: I’m not sure yet.

This snow fall was relatively dry and light, and although large quantities of snow are on our rooftops, the situation isn’t that dangerous right now. But the forecast is for rain on Monday, and then again for Wednesday. I’d love nothing more than to remove all this overhead snow before Monday. But since my bull float roof rake is elsewhere, and travel still seems well neigh impossible, it might just not happen this time around.

Anyway, that’s a wrap for today. Possibly more tomorrow… Stay tuned if you’re sufficiently interested (or otherwise sufficiently bored :-) ).

Men with snowblower and smoking cigars.

“Have a cigar.”

[ Blizzard Of 2013: Part II ]

About John Poole

My interests include historic homes and their preservation and restoration, improving the energy efficiency of old houses, and traditional timber frames.
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4 Responses to Blizzard Of 2013: Part I

  1. I’m wondering how you took the picture of the snow outside the front door. It looks undisturbed, so presumably was before your face-plant.

    • John Poole says:

      What an excellent observation on your part! I was wondering if anyone was going to catch that. The side window is missing (I removed it to repair it and never got it back in before winter). So I just put my hand through the opening to take the photo of the snow and door.

  2. Nate Adams says:

    THAT is a lot of snow! Thanks for the chuckles. The head plant, half a neighbor, and cigar smoking snow blowers were all good for one! I like seeing non-sensationalized pictures, too.

    Oddly, we here in Cleveland got completely missed by this thing. I live 20 miles south of Chardon, Ohio which frequently has the highest snowfall in Ohio during these storms. Thanks for taking the brunt! =)

    • John Poole says:

      Thanks Nate!

      And you’re welcome for our taking the brunt this time!

      I try to see the humor, lighter sides of these things. The cigar smoking guys clearing snow was indeed comical and unexpected. As was the head plant. My only regret was a photo of that maneuver just wasn’t possible!

      - John

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