The Big One of 2009

1604snowshadows480Everybody’s talking about the weather, and right away this morning, this one boy needs to get to doing something about it.

It seems more certain than most of these “perfect storms” we expect that never happen–that this one WILL happen. Eight inches is the very least I’ve seen forecast, and up to 36” in northern Virginia where the Atlantic component heaps on top of the Gulf component.

The point is that, with the frigid temps and the strong winds and another storm coming Christmas Eve, we are in for altered lives  including some degree of risks for which the ounce of prevention needs to start very soon. I’m bringing three days of wood onto the porch, even though we’re not usually equipped for such; I’ll stack it on plastic up to the window bottoms. Both stoves need ashes cleaned in the next hour as daylight comes.

How to get into the chicken pen if we have 20” of snow (which I’m predicting here)? I’ll bring over a 5 gallon bucket of feed so we don’t have to take the extra steps of going around to the back of the barn to get it. Getting across the creek is another matter, we’ll cross that bridge when–and if–we can get to it.

Park the car facing OUT, pray Ann can get home from work before this thing gets serious and park hers the same.

Snow shovel and broom by the back door: check. Candles and matches ready: check. Gallon jugs of water for drinking, cooking and flushing: check.

A major snow of the predicted proportions will easily overwhelm VDOT so that some roads (like ours) will not be plowed for days, without which there will be NO coming and going. Then once scraped, there doesn’t look to be much melting for at least a week. Some elderly and medically at-risk folks will be seriously impacted by this storm.

I wish I could say this weather event was exciting to me in a way other than to get my stress hormones revved and my angst amped–most especially for the wife’s travels today and next week. I’ll take some pictures from the porch and the windows. Getting around in thigh deep snow, however, I think I’ll leave to those with more drive and a better attitude about this frozen impediment soon upon us.

Our power will likely go out. So if Fragments experiences a silent night, you’ll know why.

Oh, weather nerds: Follow the Roanoke Weather Blog and associated links AND the “BIG ONE of 2009” on Facebook for up to the minute local details of this storm.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. We’re battening down the hatches, too. Our road doesn’t get plowed at all unless we do it ourselves. Mr. Geek is seeing which of the neighbors has the snow blade so he can get it on the tractor this morning, ready to go. I don’t think I’m going to be able to get home before this thing hits, but hopefully my 4-wheel drive will help. I hope we don’t get 20 inches here – two of my dogs will disappear!

  2. Having spent 13 and a half years in the wilds of Columbia, VA – I do not miss prepping for loss of well pump, keeping the wood stoves going etc. – not to mention having to take vacation time because I couldn’t drive the 50 miles to work and back. There are many things to miss about leaving the country – these things are not on the list. Take care of yourselves!