Thursday, February 27, 2020

Editorial: Here We Go Again;
I Guess we should have Known;
SE Wyoming is 'Something Else'

When the National Weather Service (NWS) went from "Winter Storm Warning" yesterday to "Blizzard Warning," memories of January 28,1977 began coming to mind. This was back in the day before cell phones, smart phones, SMS messaging, iphones, emails, social media, Facebook, Instagram, etc. etc. The folks in our shop were fortunate enough as to have a radio on from which we got elevator music, but also news bulletins and news at noon.

The Blizzard of 1977 started 43 years ago on the morning of January 28 and lasted four days, until February 1st. The snow began falling about 5 am during the morning. Snow was in the forecast, of course, it was the middle of winter! During the course of the day we became aware that the forecast was for heavy snow that would probably affect the afternoon commute, but it's important to note that there were no watches, warnings, or bulletins--just that heavy snow was on the way.''

On the front side of our shop there was a floor to ceiling window which I especially enjoyed because my desk was in front of it, facing to the side. I could see customers coming and be ready for them when they entered. This amazing window also provided one of the best weather forecasting tools I've ever known with the ability to see the skies of the West, South, and East. We were much more enamored by the large sight of the deteriorating conditions than the casual reports coming from the radio.

The staff made the joint decision to wrap up an hour early in order to avoid the rush hour traffic. The big window became pure white and useless as a helpful tool. It wasn't yet 4:00 but we feared being stuck in the shop overnight, so we left even earlier. One woman had already left, so a second woman also called home for an early ride only to be told that it was not possible to get over to our location because of the heavy, blowing snow. The two of us remaining got in my car and headed for my house, less than 1 mile away on the same street, three traffic signals down. 

Luckily there was no one else on the street because visibility had to be somewhere around zero. I had lived in this same town and walked these same streets all my life. I knew where the street was straight and where it hard a curve. My passenger was not familiar with area, so her heart was in her throat from the moment I first put the car in Drive and pressed the gas peddle. I drove so slowly that had we bumped into anything solid, no damage would be caused; and slowly enough for the traffic lights to turn green because that was the only color and brightness that was visible through the snow. My passenger and co-worker had to stay overnight because Mother Nature closed the State Highway on which I lived all by herself and with no help from human sources, police or otherwise.

Why am I giving you a 1977 story in 2020? Because my experience here, living in the Silver Lake Institute, on this first day of a blizzard warning, I wondering . . . what happened to the snow? what happened to the wind and blowing snow? After Dan, our groundsman, got the <1" last night cleared earlier this morning, he has had no need to plow again. It simply has not snowed all day and within minutes it will be 5 pm. In less than 12 hours, the warning expires. I will be anxious to know who all, if anyone, received the forecast snow.

P.S. -- Yes, about every half hour a strong gust of wind blows around our <1" of snow!
P.P.S. -- Yes, residents on the East Lake shore do get a lot of wind on a normal basis and is usually has wind when "we" do not.

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