Friday, January 30, 2009

The Bizzard of '93

"A big snowfall hits the ridge, the 9th snowfall of the winter and it will sock us all in hopefully. There's so far maybe 18 inches of snow with creosote stove madness and shoveling angst but it is no big deal as the winds haven't hit yet. Hurricane force they say but these are evil limp-necked rumors if ya ask me. As soon as Americans get homebound they declare emergency conditions and spread such panic over the radio waves. As far as I can tell, Boone's shut down and the local radio station is going wild."
Here are actual quotes from the radio during the storm:
**"Stay indoors!!"
**"It's the storm of the century!"
**"Bring pets inside."
**"All church services cancelled."
**"106 mph winds on the coast."
**"The weather science institute at M.I.T. says we're all doomed"(I made this one up).
**"Stay tuned to the radio as we cover the Blizzard of '93"
**"The birds are going crazy, throw out some bread."
**"Snow depth has reached 18.5 inches."
**"Jimmy Jones calls from his cell phone, says it's basically a white out."
**"We are broadcasting on two stations in case you lose us on one."
**"WSJK station in West Jefferson had to go off the air due to ice crystals on the transmitter."
**"Sugar Grove caller reports 28 inches in a protected spot."
**"City officials report a curfew beginning at 7pm in Boone."
**"The National Guard is being called out."
**"A group of 30 motorists stuck near Deep Gap will have to break into Parkway elementary school for the night. He wanted police to know this over the radio."
"The wind is here and we are midway thru the storm. It looks like I'm gonna have to shovel out the entrance every three hours around the clock, otherwise I'll wake up in the morning sealed in, a dreadful thought."
"The storm is over but I have 35 inches of snow with 6 foot drifts and the low this morning was 6 degrees. The sun is out now and I recovered from a flurry of activity and a nasty head wound from last night. In the howling wind I decided I had enough of a new tin stove I was trying(the old one was outside in pieces and under a 6 foot drift), so I proceeded to pick it up and throw it, still burning, into a snowbank and salvage the other."
"I started by digging thru the snow and getting all the iron pieces I needed from my old stove, and rebuilding it by using two 6 inch old creosoted stove pipes cut down from 24 inches to 21 inches and bolted onto the old stove iron bottom door panel and top iron plate. Why? Because the witch of the new, improved tin stove just spewed smoke inside the lodge and spewed creosote everywhere else. I wasn't going to get any sleep anyway as the wind and snow and low temps had me pulling tipi guard and master snow-shoveler to keep from getting sealed inside the lodge."
"So around 10pm I went out behind the woodpile which had five feet of snow on it and I dug out the many parts of the old stove. Spreading newspapers on the tipi floor I brought in all the dirty rusty parts and cleaned them and then I used a pair of fabric scissors and cut the filthy stovepipes to length--the worst."
"Suffice it to say the old stove is now cranking but what a hellish job. (This was before getting the new stove in '94). Blizzards have a way of puckering the old sphincter and it got me going. One half hour ago I quickly walked up a high snowbank(used to be the trail)and proceeded to impale my forehead on a nail jutting out of a low horizontal tree branch. It didn't even hurt until I squirted alcohol on it."
"It is 8 degrees on Sunday and I walked halfway to the deck overlook with ridge drifts 4 feet deep and nearly impossible to plow thru without snowshoes. I don't have any but was thinking of using my turkey roast pan top and bottom, or I could use a sapling with nylon rope across it. Have it figured out by the time this all melts."
"You should of seen me these last two days, last night especially was a war zone and I was beady eyed. This is not to sound funny as it was all very stressful. As I was shoveling drifts about, my mind slipped into a rodent-like fear of all things natural and it was like a nonstop firefight to survive for 20 hours. A low grade panic had me going in circles, tossing snow around, squatting in one clean spot not trashed with wet shoes, socks, gloves, stovepipes, wood, water jugs, slush, piss bucket, while all the while the demon wind threw me into some dreamlike beady-eyed state much like a mother lifting a car off her young child."
"It is payday at my one-day-a-week church job but I ain't going anywhere. The sky is blue and the sun is out and it is a tropical 27 degrees and impending snowmelt faces us all. I walked to the deck overlook and played the flute to let the poor souls down below know I'm still alive. It is great not to have electricity and running water during this time(and actually, at all times), as the mangy curs in Boone whined outloud to no one about their consumptive woes. A few derelicts were caught in cars for over 30 hours and that would've been pure torture."
"It is evening and I washed my hands, face and hair with peppermint soap and attempted to walk further than the big locust but gave it up and I didn't really try. Cabin fever and tipi dengue. A chopper flew over looking for a family of 4 trying to walk out to the road, fools. Five foot drifts cause the body to expend too many calories inducing fatigue and a screw-it attitude. They are all probably in a stupor as night falls. Did you hear about those backpackers caught in the Smokies? This ridgetop had its own wonderful movie to show me complete with the medulla squirts and the winching hysteria. I tried to pee but it froze to the ground and I couldn't move until I hacked myself free with a hatchet. Ha Ha Ha."
"We've had a curfew for two days so no one's allowed outside anyway, at least on the highways. Last night at about 10 I walked around, looked at the thermometer at 8 degrees and out in the distance about five miles on the road I saw a convoy of emergency vehicles following each other, a state patrol behind a scrapper and a dump truck with sand. It was errie yet very cool. Here are some storm stories:
**A normal two hour hike took backpackers 8 hours in waist deep snow. Their leader, when he woke up in the hospital, asked about his group.
**An elderly couple in some remote part of Watauga County spent 6 days stranded and snowed in when suddenly they heard a helicopter and the first person they saw that week was NC Governor Jim Hunt waving from the chopper above them. He threw them a few MREs and waved good luck."

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