Posts Tagged ‘snow in portland’

Just kidding. You’d think that, if you only listened to Portland-area newscasters. Yes, the city is pretty much shut down. Yes, there are people still going out there and attempting to drive without traction devices. Yes, the entire trucking community is at a standstill because of a few who didn’t chain up.

And, yes, I made the call to close the office today and take a snow day. My job is a “non-essential” position and there’s no reason to go out, and chain up to drive three miles to sit in an office that noone is going to come to. Instead, I laced up my snow boots and grabbed my camera, and took a ton of fun photos to commemorate The Great Snow Fall of 2017 (which isn’t nearly as deep as other snow falls we’ve had at this address, but because it fell on January 11, sets a new record). For the date.

We had 12 inches one snowfall somewhere in the realm of 8-10 years ago. 18″ in February of 1996. Today, we got 6″. (Portland got more.)

If I wasn’t battling bronchitis, I’d wish I still had my x-c skis. As it was, it nearly kilt me to shovel the front walk & clear off my car (hubby did the back and cleared off several bushes as well).

Anyway – here’s my gallery of fun (often photo-shopped) snow pictures. I love snow. I’d probably hate it if I still lived in snow country, where it’s as common as fleas are in this country.

Happy January!!

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There’s something about the first snowfall of the year (that sticks to the ground) that makes it magical, even when that first snowfall is in February when the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is sick and tired of snow. I recall how much I hated February snow and slush before I moved to the Willamette Valley. We get some of our best snowfall in February, here in the lower end of the valley, and I now look forward to February snow.

That is, as long as I am not at work, don’t have to drive on any of the Interstates, and it falls on a weekend.

They closed the office on Friday: instant three-day weekend. I didn’t have to worry about calling in and saying I wasn’t making the 23-mile drive after all. Score that for this snow: I didn’t get caught up in the normal gridlock for more than the normal amount of time, I didn’t have to call in, it came as close to a weekend as one could hope for, and I could just enjoy the snow.


Harvey, of course, was delighted, and declared so loudly.


I had to trim the hair between his toes and up the backs of his legs because of the ice balls, but otherwise he is a snow dog.


Any time it is below the freezing mark, we switch out the hummer feeders: two in the house to thaw and two outside for the birds.


This is well appreciated by our native Anna’s hummingbirds which overwinter in the valley.


It is also appreciated by a couple black-capped chickadees and this Townsends Warbler.


Where is that buzzy bird? This is *my* feeder and it better not try to move me!


This snow brought us a bird that I haven’t had in my feeders for a long time: Audubon’s Warbler (the western version of the Yellow-rumped Warbler). So pretty!


I had to keep brushing the snow away from this feeder, which is frequented by the ground birds: Spotted Towhee and the Dark-eyed Juncos, among others. The Towhee was out there, but refused to cooperate with a photo.


We had four Varied Thrush come in. I felt sad for them because they won’t go into the backyard where the other ground feeders were, but it hopped around on top of the snow out front, looking for spillage from the front yard feeders.


So when I put our peanuts for the jays, I tossed out mealworms, too. The thrush ate the peanuts first. Who knew?


“Baby! It’s c-c-cold out here!” Dark-eyed Junco takes five.


The Northern Flicker (formerly Red-shafted for the red feathers in it’s tail) paid a visit. This is a female (no red “moustache”).


There’s always the requisite “our house in the snow” photo that has to be taken. Snowfall like this is rare (last time was four years ago). A photo taken from the right angle gives the impression that we live out in the woods and the tall Douglas firs that stand in neighbor’s yard and line the busy side street give the appearance of forest.  We don’t: there was a lot of traffic on the side road: sledders, skiers, snow-boarders, and cars. And people walking dogs.

Harvey had to go for walks. We walked in the middle of the street on the side roads so he wouldn’t have to wade in the deeper snow.


The Retired Man crossing the street to take a photo with me.


8-9 inches of snow fell over two and a half days, which isn’t much – not even for here – but it is plenty.


Snow makes ordinary things interesting.


Lawn chair frames – used as plant supports in the summer – become works of art in snow.


Or frames for icicles to form on.


Speaking of icicles… This fallen one looks like a murder weapon!


The bird house on stilts becomes a cozy cabin.

The freezing rain began falling around 4 this afternoon. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings in terms of freeze or thaw.


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Winter Driving

We have about four inches of snow in the yard, maybe a little less. It’s still falling. I am used to this and it doesn’t faze me – in a world outside the one I live in currently.

I grew up in snow country. I learned to drive in the winter and  in a community that is 6500′ in elevation and c-c-cold in the winter. The only time we got a “snow day” was when 18″ of the stuff fell overnight and the rural buses couldn’t make it out to the ranches to pick up the ranch kids. We got one day off.

I once drove over a hundred miles from the Nevada border to Jordan Valley with chains on my car. I had to stop twice to pry off the loose links that started hitting the undercarriage of my vehicle. I delivered mail on a rural route in Baker City, Oregon, during the terrible winter of 1978-79, when water mains burst under the city after sustained days of -14 degrees at night.

I “get” snow.

I don’t “get” Portland snow. My first winter in Portland, Oregon, left me baffled at how a northern city could not cope with less than three inches of snow. I followed some car up a steep hill in less than two inches and swore at him as he SLOWED DOWN half way up the hill, forcing me to downshift. I barely made it to the top, myself.

In thirty years of driving in the snow here, I finally “get” it. I think I got it in the winter of 2008-09. Portland gets a different sort of snow than I grew up in, and it has a micro-climate of ice and micro-culture of drivers who have never lived in snow country. In the “big storm” of that winter (which dumped less than four inches on the metro area in less than two hours), it took me over six hours to drive 13 miles. I had, fortunately, taken my husband’s four by four to work that day or I would not have made it home. I would otherwise have been driving my car: a compact pick-up truck with a fiberglass body, rear wheel drive, and not enough weight in the bed.

In the days following that storm, I made one drive in to work. It was a mere 13 mile drive that took me over an hour and a half to make. A coyote outran the traffic. I swore, on that day, that if I ever had to do it again – I would not.

I now work 23 miles from home, and the last ten miles include a couple hills. We have not had a significant snow event in four years. Until today.

My employer sent us home at noon, just an hour before the real gridlock set in. I made it home in a little over an hour. I spent the day photographing birds in the feeder and Harvey playing in the snow. The afternoon and evening wore on and the snow didn’t stop.

It’s not much snow, by snow country rules. If I lived in snow country, I’d be on the road at 7AM tomorrow. But I don’t.

And after 30 years of living here, this is the first time I have looked out the window and said, “No. I am *not* driving in to work tomorrow.” I have a 4×4 of my own now. I can drive in the stuff. But you know what?

It isn’t worth it. I was in two wrecks last year (neither one my fault) and while *I* can drive in it, a lot of people who will venture out tomorrow will not have the same skills I have. They will drive too fast, trusting in the fact that they are driving a 4×4. They will drive too fast in a full-size pick-up truck with no weight in the bed. They will drive 15 miles an hour on the freeway because they are terrified to be out on the snowy roads but lack the backbone to tell their employer that they cannot do it.

After 30 years of living in the north, in Portland, Oregon, I am declaring that I will *not* drive in the snow to go to work in the morning. It’s not worth it. The risk to my rig, to my blood pressure, and to my body is too much.

I am throwing in the towel. I will drive around town if need be, but I will *not* get out on the freeway system and attempt to go to work.

P.S. – there’s no public transit from my home to work that runs in a direct line. I won’t be taking mass transit, either. Not worth my time – or my dollar.

I can’t believe I am officially throwing in the towel, but there you have it. We get a different kind of snow here, and I am not willing to do it again. I understand the whole Atlanta shut down in a whole different way.


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Bring on Winter!

I’m ready now. I stopped at Les Schwab’s yesterday and picked up a set of chains for my car. Today I picked up extra chain tighteners. I have an extra pair of jeans, my Sorel boots and extra blankets in my car.

In short, I am ready in case we get snow.

Which means, of course, that it won’t snow. It’s the Law of Preparedness. If you aren’t prepared, you get snow. And lots of it with ice and people who don’t know how to drive on it.

If you are prepared and the whole of Portland is prepared with gravel trucks and the two snow plows they own and Tri-Met is ready to chain-up, then we will not have snow.

Why is this important? because Portland is not only a city of hills, it is a city of drivers who have never driven on snow before. Witness this from a couple years ago:

Had one of these people had the sense to just park it, some of this would not have happened. If one of these drivers had removed his foot from the brake (braking is actually the worst thing you can do in a slide) and tapped the gas, it is possible some of this would not have happened. If Portland actually owned more than two snow plows, probably none of this would have happened.

For the record, I drove to and from work every day that the office was open during that snow storm. I borrowed the 4×4 and my husband went to work with a friend in his 4×4. It wasn’t too bad if you allowed an extra half hour for the commute (due to the number of people driving with chains on who had to slow down and due to the number of people who don’t know they are supposed to slow down and spin out on the roadways).

Last year I got caught in the Big Snow Storm. It actually snowed less than 3 inches, but everyone panicked, got out on it and pounded it down into ice in less than an hour. Cars that slid off to the side of the road or floundered in the powder were simply abandoned – right where they were parked, even if it was in the lane of traffic. For whatever bizarre reason, I actually drove my husband’s big 4×4 in to work that day instead of my little red truck. If I had driven my little red truck, I would have left work at the first snow flake and probably would have been home in 40 minutes before the snow actually hit.

But I drove the Explorer and I figured I was safe. I didn’t count on Other Drivers.

It took me over 6 hours to get home. So much fun.

If I am ever stuck on Lower Boones’ Ferry Road for 2 hours again, I am stopping at a motel and spending the night. End of story.

Anyway, this year I ditched the truck for a four-wheel drive car of my own. But I still don’t know how it will handle in the snow being both a compact car and a very light weight one. I do know it only has rain tires on (which is great since it rains here 10 months out of 12).

So I decided to be proactive and get everything in my trunk that I will potentially need: warm clothes, blankets & the chains. And yes, I know how to put the chains on (the new chains are SO much easier to deal with than the old ones).

I’m ready.

Now it won’t snow. Which is too bad because I am rather looking forward to snow.

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