…that storm was NOT supposed to be like that

We had a storm last Saturday.

I think my husband cursed us. We live in the northeast of the US, so our usual big storm time is January and February. It was starting to get nice out, kind of springlike weather, and he commented that we hadn’t had a really bad storm all winter, and now it was over.

Ohhh, never say that where the world can hear.

The storm was predicted to be a non-event. They said it would be rain for most of the day, with 2-5” of snow in the evening. Maybe a short period of an inch and hour rates of snowfall during that time. Some ice. Some wintry mix. Overall, though, not a lot of accumulation or fuss.

I was supposed to have my knit group that day. In the morning, we started chatting in text because we woke up to trees already covered in ice, thick enough to glisten in the light. Rain poured down, the temperature of 34F warm enough to let it fall, but not warm enough to melt the ice. It wasn’t bad… but… the ice sticking to the trees seemed like a warning.

That, and the fact that traffic reports were rolling in—accidents on the highways, including one that closed the main highway I live next to (one direction was completely shut down for hours).

We decided to push our knitting meetup to the next weekend. I’m really glad we did.

Mid-afternoon, the rain turned to ice, sleeting down. I heard tiny balls of ice pelting against the boarded up air conditioner. The dog was anxious and displeased.

Then came the snow. The thick flakes started falling around 3:45pm—I happened to note the time when I looked out the window to see it. I figured that meant maybe we were close to the end of the storm, although they’d predicted it would go until 11ish. Hah. No. Over the next three hours we got 9” of snow. You read that right—three inches per hour. That was the worst of it; we topped out just under a foot.

Except… the power went out at 4:45pm. I’d just tossed a load of laundry in the wash—that laundry marinated in soapy water in a locked front-loader for about 36 hours in the end. When we checked the website (I tethered my phone to my laptop), there was no crew assigned, no estimate on power restoration. Pretty much the whole town was out.

In the end, something like 85,000 people (I think it was) were without power from the storm, over several towns. It depended on exactly what band of the storm a place was in. Ten minutes to the southeast, my parents got far less snow, and had no power problems. West was more snow, but no heavy ice, same with north. We happened to hit the sweet spot.

So there we were, sitting in a house that was getting darker by the moment. The sunroom is the only room with decent windows; husband and I hung out there to get what light we could until the sun went down. We lit candles, and used flashlights. He read on his Kindle. I read a book using a flashlight I have that goes around the neck.

Normally we’d watch TV in the evenings, and while we could have streamed on a laptop, we didn’t know how long we’d be out of power and didn’t want to risk draining our devices. So no writing for me. No streaming. No gaming. I couldn’t knit, because for me, knitting is a multi-tasking thing and I couldn’t stream and knit at the same time.

So much reading. When we still didn’t have power the next evening, there was more reading. We escaped to the mall for food and a movie during the day.

The worst part was the water. Our house is on a well. If you’re used to being on town water, you’ve never had the oh-so-fun experience of the well pump being without power. For us, no power means no way to draw the water up. So we flush rarely. Drink bottled water. Buy baby wipes for hand-washing (and “bathing”). 

In a way, it was a peaceful experience. I enjoyed getting so much reading done. I had no guilt at all about not doing something else. Maybe I could’ve written long-hand, but my brain was happy to let go for a bit. I read an entire book, and some manga. I curled up on the couch and enjoyed the experience as best I could. Make lemonade, right?

The power came back on while I was getting ready for bed on Sunday. It had been out for about 30 hours, and we had expected it to be out for another 24. Getting it back was a delight. Even more thrilling was turning on the faucet in the kitchen and getting full water pressure which meant I probably didn’t need to prime the pump (excellent, since husband was already asleep). I didn’t dare start up the washer again, though, just in case. Making the pump go dry while I slept would be bad. My poor laundry continued to marinate until morning.

We were able to keep all the food safe. Our routine went out the window, and no prep was done for the week. I was able to shower on Monday morning before work (thank the gods). But the whole week was thrown off-kilter. I’d slept in a very cold bedroom—the air had made my allergies and sinuses worse. My taekwondo uniform was the load of laundry stuck in the washer, so no TKD for me on Monday because I was still washing (and rewashing—marinated laundry tends to stink of gross water) that uniform after work. No food prep was done, so we’ve been making do all week.

But in a weird kind of way, we were able to relax and let go for a bit. We couldn’t clean, or cook, or write, or do anything we usually would. We read. We relaxed. We chatted. We spent time with the animals. It was… nice.

I’ll be glad to get back to the routine this weekend, though. Because of course, now we have twice as much to do.

And I’m not going to say that was the last big storm of the season. I would never dare to do so; who knows what might hear me and decide to prove me wrong!

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