For those who don't follow the news in my neck of the woods, let me fill you in on the headlines of the past month...
Statewide emergency declared by Governor Gregoire
Clear and cold for Saturday, snow moves in Sunday night
Winter Blast 2008: Snowed In
Poor Visibility Closes Several Highways
Snowy weather cancels and delays flights
Is my roof safe?
When will snow removal crews finish?
Falling ice is rupturing gas lines
Trucks, buses get stuck in downtown Spokane
Another snowstorm hits the Inland Northwest
Roof collapses keeping emergency crews busy
Avalanche danger closes passes
Girl trapped under snow transported to the hospital
Five mile Rosauer's loses 35 percent of roof
Woman killed after being buried in snow while shoveling
Adopt a fire hydrant
Traffic in Spokane going 'absolutely nowhere'
Keeping yourself safe in freezing temperatures
Let me paint you a picture. In the second week of December the snow started. The first storm dropped 17 inches on us. They had predicted about 10. Snow removal crews started working 24 hours to try and clear roads, but as it was still snowing they could hardly keep up with the main roads, let alone side roads. Alleys and residential streets were completely snowed in. The first day it was reported that after the first 100 wrecks they had stopped counting and that emergency crews would not be responding unless there were dire injuries; they couldn't keep up and in many instances, couldn't get through. I myself got stuck downtown, and a trip that would have taken 15 minutes to get home took 3 hours. Traffic was at a standstill because of wrecks and people getting stuck. Cops were everywhere trying to sort out traffic. Finally the snow stopped, to resume 2 days later. By the end of that storm a solid two and half feet was on the ground. Cars were left abandoned, crews struggled to keep even one lane of main roads open, and many highways and roads started to close. People were advised to stay home, businesses started closing, and with Christmas less than a week away, people began to get desperate to get out and finish their present and grocery shopping.
And the snow kept coming.
New Year's dawned bright and snowy, and the first few days of January brought some of the first sunlight folks around here have seen in weeks. The count came in that December had dropped 61.5 inches of snow on us, and roughly 3/4 of that is still on the ground. The crews have managed to finally plow residential streets; problem is the five feet of snow left behind caused seven foot berms that leave a narrow space big enough for only one car to pass. And with the glorious sunlight came a new problem. The snow finally began to melt, but the freezing temperatures at night mean icy roads and heavier and more compact snow. Shoveling has almost ceased as people are forced to move the icy chucks of snow by hand. Mail and garbage services have stopped in many places - the mail carriers can't get through and most people's garbage cans are buried in snow, even if the trucks could make it through the alleys. Schools remain closed today, what should have been the first day back after the Christmas holiday.
The newest problem is the sheer weight of the snow. Roofs everywhere are collapsing. WalMart and Costco have been shut down for the last three days while crews work to lighten the snow load. One supermarket roof collapsed while people were still inside. Residential homes are having the same problem, and people are being forced to climb up onto their icy roofs to shovel the snow off. Evan made the trip up to ours and spent well over an hour pushing the heavy snow off. We're simply praying that the garage will hold up, as there is no way possible to climb up to those heights onto a tin roof.
And this morning, we woke to the familiar sight of swirling snow. My beautiful city of Spokane is lost under the blankets of snow, and the forecast remains snowy and dreary. I plan to post pictures later today when we get back, we're venturing out for the first time in a week to escape the house and try to get some errands done in case we're snowed in again. Wish us luck!