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December 23, 2004

Winter Wonderland -- The Day After

Another foot of snow overnight, and now my front porch looks like this. Contrast this with the picture from the same place on my porch yesterday, and you realize this whole snow thing has gotten out of hand. In fact, we're in a Level 3 situation in our county, which means no one is allowed to drive unless what you're driving is a cop car, a fire engine or an ambulance.

For another perspective on the snow, here's the back porch:

I realize that none of this will impress those of you in, say Minnesota, Alaska or Canada. But jeez, for someone raised in Southern California, this is pretty serious stuff.

Here Athena and Krissy confer on the snow, which you can see piled up at the window. That's a second story window, incidentally. Fortunately, we are reasonably well stocked for the day, and should make it through until the snow plows come later this afternoon, after it's stopped snowing. And if it gets any worse, well, we'll eat Rex first. He's old and lived a good life.

Posted by john at December 23, 2004 09:05 AM

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PeterP | December 23, 2004 09:14 AM

It's times like this that the benefits of living in Atlanta outweigh the downsides...

Linda | December 23, 2004 09:59 AM

Dude. That's a lot of snow. I'm from Minnesota, and it impresses me. Really, we're not as much about eight feet of snow all the time as we are about unbelievably cold temperatures. It's when you tell me it was thirty degrees and your blood froze that I'll make snorty noises.

Jack Scheer | December 23, 2004 10:17 AM

Beautiful snow all around, a well-stocked house, Christmas upon you and surrounded by the people you love the most. Sounds like heaven.

Janni | December 23, 2004 10:56 AM

Well, I'm in Arizona, so I'm impressed.

I miss the white stuff, actually. Something about watching it fall and fall and fall that's deeply magical, even as an adult.

Tina K. | December 23, 2004 11:11 AM

Well, John, as one of those you left behind. Neener, neener, neener. My thermometer say 54 right now...and I'm wearing gloves as I write this. :-)

Tripp | December 23, 2004 11:36 AM

I'm in Minnesota and I'm jealous! Last year all the serious snow went South of here. So far this year has been no better. What good is winter if you can't go out and play in it?

Dave | December 23, 2004 03:29 PM

We only got 9" here in Indy -- just caught the edge of the chaos southeast of here. 9" is just enough to break you out of your routine, without making things seriously difficult.

As in, I was able to get to Borders today, to do some last-minute shopping. And, behold, one copy of _OMW_. Mine now!

John Scalzi | December 23, 2004 04:34 PM


Kristy | December 23, 2004 08:51 PM

There's *no* snow here in Idaho. It just ain't right. Count me among the jealous crowd!

Patrick | December 23, 2004 10:14 PM

Those are pretty cool pictures. Vegas and Phoenix don't do snow so the downside's faded
a bit.

I remember when I was a kid in Indianapolis:
We had just finished the first half of a blizzard and I walked out to the street that night. Looking up past the christmas lights the next day's blizzard was waiting. From horizon to horizon the sky was a solid, smooth, glittering silver.

May you all have a silver Christmas.

chris | December 24, 2004 05:39 AM

i'm in the middle east, so you can definately consider me impressed!!

mythago | December 24, 2004 10:51 AM

Occasionally I feel bad about abandoning the Steel Belt for California, and then John comes along and makes me feel all better.

Bill Peschel | December 25, 2004 07:41 PM

Looks beautiful. We haven't had any this season in Hershey, so I can still feel fanciful about it. Wait until February and I've shoveled two feet of the driveway and ask me then about it.

Only disadvantage I can see from your viewpoint is that you can't say' you're snowed in and can't come to work.

Simon | December 25, 2004 11:35 PM

Not allowed to drive?

Forgive a stupid question from a person not from snow country, but how does anything get done if everyone has to stay home? What if you have to go pay the bills or have a doctor's appointment that day? How long do situations like this last? If it happens on a work day, how are employees' absences accounted for? Does it come off their vacation time, or what?

John Scalzi | December 26, 2004 01:34 PM

Excellent questions! I haven't the slightest idea.

Dave | December 26, 2004 03:23 PM

In the "more than you wanted to know" department...

Usually a "snow emergency" means that you're not _supposed_ to drive. But in my experience there's no major penalty if you end up doing it. The main implication is that you should not expect any assistance if you get yourself stuck.

Snow emergencies are much more common in the rural counties. The lonely, narrow roads (often with steep ditches on the sides) make the situation more difficult. Plus, they're usually much thinner on resources. Urban areas will do it too, if the situation is bad, but it takes a lot more to get there. How long it lasts depends basically on how long it takes to clear the roads. More than two days would be unusual, but it can happen, for instance if we get high winds and severe drifting following a big storm.

Whether or not you can get to work or wherever depends on a lot of things -- how bad the roads are, what kind of vehicle you have, whether there's a snow emergency, how much hype the TV news is extruding, and how important your task is. The state of emergency is an important factor but people will make decisions independently of that.

Different companies will have different policies for this sort of thing. Official policies are usually not too forgiving but reality can affect that. In reality a company is unlikely to punish you for not coming in when you're fairly certain it's not safe -- particularly if the government tells everyone to stay home. My current employer officially expects us to be in all the time, but for most office jobs this can be worked around with work-from-home or sick-leave.

I remember really bad storms where public appeals have gone out for 4WD owners to lend a hand in driving essential personnel to places like hospitals. (That's less common now that SUVs are so popular.) No matter how much your company tells you they expect you to be at work, they can't change the laws of physics. In the end, snow is a big help in dispelling any illusions we have that we control our world. And that's kind of cool. Annoying, even severely inconvenient, but cool.

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