Snow in January

31st March 2000

19th January. It started snowing at midday. By evening there was a pall of white over everything. The roads were slippery, with thick ice on them and accidents galore. In the 2 hours of normal going-home peak-time, there were 400 car accidents in Norfolk. 400. Amazing. The roads were covering up with snow, being churned up by the tyres, and then turning to ice. I was still at work at 6:00pm and getting ready to leave when we our phone carrier screwed up and we lost T1s and most of our traffic. I stayed at work and on the phone till the problem was mostly settled. That was just after midnight. I had a look outside and it was scary. Snow everywhere. I had never driven in snow and I was nervous. I had already heard about the accidents and I was very nervous about driving home. I considered spending the night at work, but finally decided to brave the roads.

I left for home after midnight. I think I was pretty lucky, because I avoided all the heavy traffic and the blockages from the accidents. The roads were mostly empty, apart from the snow and the slush. I took it slowly and carefully, no more than about 25 mph, and the trip home only took half an hour. If I had left at 6pm like I originally planned, it would have taken me two hours to get home. I ended up behind a woman in a small car who was making her way home very carefully. I followed her, and she must live very close to us, because I was behind her for about 90% of my journey. We took it very slow and very careful. There were times when other larger vehicles came zooming up behind us, got irritated with our speed, and then overtook at great speed. This is the attitude that caused over 400 accidents. I was greatly pleased when a large impatient SUV slipped while overtaking us and slid sideways at a good speed into the gutter. Did his wheels no end of damage. I had to smile.

Next morning, I waited till after peak-hour to go to work. In these conditions, I prefer to be alone on the road. I wasn't so nervous about driving this time, because I had done it once. Doing something for the first time is pretty nerve-wracking; doing it again is comforting because you know what to expect. Before I could leave, I had to get a whole lot of snow off the car. When the windscreen ices up in the mornings, I have been using a small plastic kitchen spatula to clean the ice off. I tried to use that to clean all the snow off. That was hard work. I have since bought two types of large scrapers, so the job is no longer so tedious. It was casual day at work, thanks to the ice and snow and slush. I wore jeans and my ug boots. Also wore my bike gauntlets in the car because it was so damn cold. They kept my hands toasty warm. The ug boots kept my feet very warm too, but I had to endure a lot of stares, a lot of questions, and lots of cries of "Ugh". It was worth it all to stay warm and comfortable. It continued to snow all day. About a foot of snow.

I headed home at 6pm, pleased that there was no last minute emergency to keep me at work. Before I could leave, I had to clean that foot of snow off my car. I started doing it with the little plastic kitchen spatula, which works fine when there's just a thin covering of frost on the windows. When there's a foot of snow covering the car, it doesn't work so well. A nice lady from the accounting department stopped and lent me her snow scraper. That got the job done really well. Then I had to break out of the snowdrift that I was in, and then struggle through the rough roads. There was the road and then a 4 inch layer of ice and salt and sand and slush that had been re-frozen. Very rough going. I took it slow and steady and passed another 100 car accidents on the way home. Mostly SUVs again, like the night before. SUVs are Sport Utility Vehicles, great hulking huge vehicles for men's men. See my diatribe about driving in America. The good old boys who drive these tanks reckon they are great drivers, and ever so safe in their tanks, and they roar along at normal speeds in the snow, overtaking and ducking and weaving in the traffic, and they often slide off into the ditches or slam into the guard rails. I enjoy seeing that.

The trip home was slow but uneventful. I had to wait till 9pm before the on-call emergency struck, and then I was on the phone till after midnight again. Snow, snow snow. We expect another foot and a half of snow tomorrow.

Next morning, I slept in deliberately and got out of bed at 9:00am. Opened the front door and was confronted with 3 to 4 inches of snow. Lovely clean white snow everywhere, even on the holly bushes out front. I had to do major scraping and shoving before I could see out of the car. I left about six inches of snow on top of the car when I drove off. It stayed there and was still on top when I got to work, despite flying down the freeway. It was pretty fun having all that snow around. Again, I wore my bike gauntlets in the car.

The snow eventually stopped falling. We even had some days with brilliant blue skies. The snow did not melt quickly. Some suburbs had roads that were still iced over a week later. They requested salt. Our road eventually cleared up. Our back yard took longest to clear up because it doesn't get much sun, and it's cool and protected. The locals reckon it's unusual to get snow here. It was fun. The house across the road had a little snowman, and kids everywhere were making snow angels. The guys at work tried to persuade me that the only way to make a snow angel was to strip naked, lie face-down on the snow, and waggle. I might be unused to snow, but I don't think that's the way to do it. I have no intention of lying down naked in the snow, even after a sauna.

It started snowing, and we got the first bit. Not too much, just enough to put a light covering on the cement and the car, but not enough to cover the grass. [A bit of light snow]

Then we got a a couple more feet of snow and it covered the grass. My car doesn't have much on it here, because I've been in and out, churning up the snow and mud in the gutter and making it really slippery. The snow on the grass looks good, all smooth and pristine except where Anne's been down to pick up the latest batch of parcels from eBay. At first, it looked nice and attractive. As time wore on, it all started to look a bit mucky as the footprints churned it, and the cars churned it. On the street it became a muddy iced up slush.

Note the tiny little snowman in the front yard across the street.

[Pristine snow on the lawn]

Here you can see the holly bushes nicely covered in snow, just like a Christmas card. Most of us didn't bother doing anything with snow, and we let it pile up on the driveway. I found this was a bad thing, as it turned icy and slippery after you walk on it and drive on it a bit. Some of the neighbours across the road have cleared their driveways. I now own a small snow shovel, so next time it happens (if it ever does), I'll be out there getting some exercise and a heart attack by shovelling the snow off the driveway and the footpath.

Note the sullen grey skies. There's more snow there, just waiting to drop.

[Snow on the neighbours]

Here's a shot of the house with snow on top. It's started to melt at the top, probably from the heat inside the house. [Our house with snow]

This is shot from out the back, mostly to show the neighbours' houses covered with snow, and that sullen grey sky again. [Out the back]

The backyard managed to accumulate a lot of snow. It doesn't get a great deal of sun, so took a long time to melt. Look near the ground to the right of the corner post. There's a little sticky up green thing. That's the cable junction box, and it stands about 16 inches high. That gives you an idea of the depth of the snow. [Snow in the backyard]