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The Great Blizzard of Dec 2010

So on the morning of Xmas Eve, I drove down to my Mom's house on the Jersey Shore. The plan was that my brother and his brood would come down for lunch on Sunday, and on Monday I'd leave to go visit raqs and literalman, and then return home. Those of you in the U.S. and who have been paying attention will realize the snag in this plan: a gigantic blizzard that arrived on Sunday.

We turned out to be in one of the heaviest-hit areas, and it was something to behold, let me tell you. It also trapped me there for like 3 days, and my brother and his family never got down (even on the rescheduled Tuesday), and I didn't get to go see Raqs and Literalman either. :( Boo. (It would be more accurate to say that I got cold feet -- hah! -- about visiting Raqs and Literalman; I *could* have gone, but the second-worst hit area was That Fucking Island, and I honestly didn't want to deal with Long Island traffic complicated by 2 feet of snow. Also that by that time, I was peopled-out, having just spent four intensive days holed up with my mother, who was a bit squirrelly about the whole blizzard thing.)

Disrupted holiday plans and the annoyance of dealing with the snow aside, it was kind of neat, in a "wow, this is the worst storm anyone can remember, isn't it?" kind of way.

Below, I will share with you three videos and a number of photos, if you'd like to click.

Above, we have some video taken with my camera from inside the front door, at about 10pm. It started snowing on Sunday at 7:30 am, and simply didn't stop. At about 3pm, it ratcheted up and started this 30-40mph wind horizontal-snow thing, and didn't let up for the next seven hours, until we just went to bed. (I don't really know when it stopped, but the winds didn't stop until Tuesday.)

A still of the same scene:


I particularly like how the street is just this flat unbroken expanse all the way over to the porches of the houses on the other side. You can see the height of the snow in the drift right behind my car.

The next day, my car was oddly almost entirely free of snow:


My mother's car, parked nose to nose with mine, was not so luck. Here is the entire front half engulfed in a drift. That's the driver's side front door.


This next one would be much funnier if you had ever seen the back of the house. Let's just say that that's the snow-drifts coming up to the bottom of the window, and that three steps down from the back deck is another deck, and... yeah. Also note on the house to the rear, how the drift is almost up to the top of one of the side windows. My estimate of that would be 7 feet. The drift at the back corner of our garage is probably 5 feet.


Same view in sunlight:


A bit earlier, I tried to capture the gale-force gusts we were still getting. While it had stopped snowing on Monday morning, the winds continued and kept rearranging the existing snow. At 0:40 or so of this video, there's a really good look at a big gust coming along (and you can ever hear the wind, through the door):

The snowplow's cut actually doesn't look as deep as it is because the whole lower half has been drifted back in with snow.

My mother is actually blessed with a lot of wonderful neighbors. One pounded on the door at 9am to let her know that he'd be around to start clearing her out (although he didn't make it back until 3:30 or so). We were also kind of expecting one of my cousins to show up to shovel for money (I would happily toss money into the pot if it meant I didn't have to shovel myself). But eventually I got nervous about the idea that we were literally trapped. We couldn't OPEN the back door, with the drifts against it. We had the porch cleared off and so could open the front, but we had no way out to the (indifferently) plowed street except to try to walk through 2 feet of snow... So I got out there and shoveled a path to the street. Whereupon I took these pictures.


Above, my car and my mother's car not really visible beyond it.

Next, the impressive drifts between my Mom's house and the little one next door:


(Historic note: while they have both been substantially improved, these two little shoebox houses were the first structures built on this street in 1920 or so. I have pictures from back then of just the two of them and a wasteland of empty sand surrounding them.)

While out there, I also took this video of the still-blowing snow:

Later that afternoon the neighbor came back and helped shovel out the driveway. The next day, the cousin showed up to shovel for cash, which also involved getting that back door shoveled out:


My favorite drift in the back, a lovely mountain peak. There's a picnic table under there. Really.


Then I was able to get my car out (and go get gas), and we were able to get the front of my Mom's car cleared off and get it moved. I was worried that failing to shovel out the snow between it and the far wall would hold it in place. Instead, what we found was a perfectly-preserved impression of her car -- check it out, bumper, rear wheel, rear door, the whole thing. I have a detail shot where you can read the backwards letters on the tire impression!


Things I wish to note about the following picture: the little enclosure with the trash-cans is at curb-side. The initial plow driver, apparently in his anxiety not to swipe the righthand curb, ended up swinging out NINE FEET from the curb. All of which, naturally, we had to shovel through to reach the damn street. I'm bitter about this.


(But honestly, not HALF as bitter as I am about the plowing job done on the Garden State Parkway, as I discovered driving home on Wednesday. There were still stretches where either the left lane, or the right lane, weren't plowed. Or, I mean -- the edge of what had been plowed would waver all over the left or right lane, narrowing the road. So you'd get people whipping along the left lane at 90 mph until they'd gradually lose the lane. I wound up in like 3 hideously long back-ups that were entirely to do with parts of the highway being constricted down to 1 lane. Oh my god, Jersey! I mean, I can understand finding those conditions on Monday. But seriously, by Wednesday you haven't managed to get out there and correct that? On one of the biggest, longest highways in the state?)

Then, I thought, I wanted to see the beach. There is always this urge to go look at the beach with snow on it, because it's so unexpected.

This turned out to be harder than it might seem. The third video above will show you that the beach is not very far away -- the street dead-ends at it, and there's dunes and a ramp up to it, and of course that's where the plow put all of the snow. I followed some other footprints on a route that, first, involved sinking into the snow to mid-thigh, and then using the ramp's railing and a mostly-buried trash-can lid to heave myself up and over it. And then I got to the top of the path to the beach, at the apex of the dunes, following the other footprints, when the other footprints just stopped. "Pssh," I said to myself, "I can make it down to the beach." In fact, I went about 4 more steps alone, sinking over the knee at every step, before I said, "really, the beach doesn't look all THAT interesting today", and snapped this picture to prove it. (Needless to say the storm fencing on either side is about 2 feet tall.)


(Later, a minivan with a small family inside pulled up and my Mom tried to tell them the beach wasn't accessible, but the father had to try anyway. He came back very shortly, smiling and shaking his head. Then the strapping young son of another neighbor tried to go up, and confessed that he hadn't gotten more than 2 steps past where I stopped. So I felt like less of a wimp.)

Finally, an arty shot of the drifted snow on the dunes:


And there you have it: the Great Blizzard of Dec 2010. Yes, an actual, technical blizzard and everything (it has to do with sustained wind-speeds and time it spends snowing, and we easily qualified for that). And all I can say is -- other parts of NJ got 30 inches, and I am glad that wasn't us.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 31st, 2010 01:52 am (UTC)
That is amazing! Such great photos! I really love how shadows form on freshly fallen snow, all blue and sharp.

before I said, "really, the beach doesn't look all THAT interesting today"

This made me laugh. I have to admit, I don't think I've ever seen a beach with snow on it in real life before. It is an interesting idea but I don't think I would have gotten any farther than you did.

Those were some winds!
Dec. 31st, 2010 02:24 am (UTC)
You will be glad to know that on Tuesday, while I walked in the street because absolutely nobody had shoveled their sidewalks, I ran across a puddle that had frozen mid-ripple from the wind. It was gorgeous and weird.
Dec. 31st, 2010 09:55 am (UTC)
WOW!!..those pics are stunning!...and your snow landed and looked sooo much nicer than the stuff we got.....absolutely LOVE the beach walk ones!....

Let's hope for a nice warm and snow free New Year!!

Deeds xx
Dec. 31st, 2010 01:43 pm (UTC)
Wow, and then some. Glad you're home safely, I've been thinking of you and hoping you had eventually made it. And that last shot is fabulous. As are you. *hugs*
Dec. 31st, 2010 04:23 pm (UTC)
Amazing photos and vids! Thanks for sharing!
Jan. 1st, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
that IS an assload of snow. I love the imprint of your mom's car!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )