Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Snow in October -- A View from the Trenches

 Driving around Bergen County these days makes me think the Knights who say "Ni" have been around demanding shrubberies. When you look more closely, you realize the shrubs at the edges of people's lawns are actually piles of branches and leaves, broken by this past week's snowstorm, fondly known on Twitter as "Snowtober".

For about a week, I complained every time I saw the upcoming weather forecast. "What do you mean, rain/snow on Saturday?" Little did I know just how bad it would be. As most of you know by now, the rain turned to snow much sooner than expected. And it was a heavy, wet snow. And the trees were still covered with leaves. And that was bad.

Around 2:00 pm on Saturday, as I worked on the computer, blink, blink . . . no power. And it stayed that way until 7:00 am on Wednesday. The house got very cold (around 45F).The good news is that it kept the refrigerator and freezer cold (helped by the ice packs I pulled out of the freezer and distributed and supplemented by Ziploc bags of snow added to the fridge on Tuesday). We were lucky -- we could light the gas burners on our stove using matches (but not our oven). We had hot water (although the thought of stepping out of the shower with wet hair into the cold bathroom was more than I could deal with). And we had lanterns and lots of sweatshirts, fleeces, quilts, etc. So we managed.

I kept my smartphone charged by driving around with it, charging it from my laptop, and asking restaurants where I went for lunch or dinner if they had a spare outlet. By Tuesday, Fairleigh Dickinson University (where I teach Tuesday afternoons) had their power back and I taught my class. This gave me the opportunity to warm up and completely charge my laptop and phone. I also got to reassure my students that it was okay they hadn't completed their homework -- I couldn't have printed it out even if they had sent it.To quote the provost at FDU, "it has certainly been an interesting semester so far. The October snowstorm is just the latest surprise" (we already had a delayed opening due to Hurricane Irene).

Our poor cat, Charley, could not understand what was going on. He was cold (at night he snuggled up with us in bed, though he wouldn't come under the quilt). And he couldn't figure out the lanterns. Once all the lights in the house were out it was bedtime and we were supposed to be asleep, so he could come into bed with us. But instead, much to his annoyance, we were sitting up and reading.

We were lucky -- it was never as bad as Alabama after the tornadoes, it was never as bad as Turkey, after the recent earthquake. Of course PSEG could have been more communicative. Their website said the very latest news was available on their special twitter account which, until sometime later on Sunday, hadn't posted a tweet since September 21. It was very heartening to see all of the non-PSEG repair trucks in the area.

I can't help but wonder if the snow was a result of what was in the Sunday papers. Both Toy'R'Us and Kmart had their toy catalogs in the Sunday, October 30 paper -- not only was it before Thanksgiving it was before Halloween! Target was just a week behind, theirs was in the Sunday, November 6 paper. No more tempting Mother Nature -- keep the holidays and seasons where they belong!