The official blog of Susan Landis-Steward, writer of whatever she likes, and co-founder of Puddletown Publishing Group

Posts tagged ‘ice’

Ten Things on Tuesday: Weather Edition

  1. Right now, all Portland can talk about is the weather. We are expecting snow and freezing rain, and even if it’s just a small storm, it’s big news here.
  2. In Portland, we like to name our storms. I guess we feel left out because we don’t get hurricanes with pre-assigned names. So we have the Columbus Day Storm and the Arctic Blast (that one seems to get recycled, but I may be wrong) and the “Remember When the Only Thing on TV was that Mud Slide Wiping out that Truck” storm.
  3. People wonder why Portland is paralyzed by two inches of snow. I’ll tell you why:
  4. Hills. Portland is built, in large part, on hills. Those of you back east are thinking “hills?” But you think the Laurentians are mountains. Nope. Those are hills. I grew up in Portland on a hill higher than most of the Laurentians. You don’t know from hills. Out here, a mountain is a thing with glaciers and a timberline and snow cap all year round. We have plenty of those, too. A hill is a steep thing covered with houses and trees, and your ears pop when you go up one. Even if you’ve lived there most of your life. Trust me on this. I got many an earache on the way home from school as a child because my ears don’t pop very easily.
  5. Lack of real winter: We only get snow and ice a few days a year. Very few people know how to drive in it for reasons I will explain momentarily. Our seasons here are Rainy, Winter, Rainy, Spring, Rainy, Rose Festival (mandatory rain), Hotter-than-Hell, Drought, Indian Summer, Blustery, Stormy, Rainy, and January. January is usually clear, cold, and sunny, a season all to itself. Unless winter chooses to happen then.
  6. Snowplows and Gravel Trucks. Because we seldom need them, we don’t have them. Oh, we have a few. Maybe four. And if you’ve ever been to Portland, you know it’s a freaking huge place in terms of land mass. Much larger than, say, San Francisco, Seattle, Manhattan. Even I can walk across Manhattan easily. It would take days to walk across Portland. We spread out instead of up. So the four gravel trucks go out and put gravel on the snow on a few main streets. During the day, it melts. Then it freezes, trapping the gravel inside the ice. So much for the gravel. Until it all ends up at the side of the road and starts destroying your windshield.
  7. Compound snow and ice: Most places in this country get snow. Light, fluffy, packs-down-and-you-can-drive-on-it snow. We get wet crap that turns to ice. In the daytime, it melts. At night, it refreezes. So you get a layer of snow covered by ice. The next day, that becomes ice covered with snow covered with more ice. Repeat daily until it goes away, adding new layers of ice each day. Ice and hills are not a good mix.
  8. Chains. Nobody owns them. If we do own them, we can’t find them because we took them out of the car after the last storm and they are somewhere in the garage. Or they are in the other car. Which is not where you are. Once it starts snowing you can’t buy them because you can’t find any. If you do find some, the store wants $200 for a set.  And you must have chains. (See compound snow and ice.) Studded tires are a waste of time. They just make people think they can drive in the snow, but they are worthless on ice. In fact, I suspect they provide yet another surface to slip on, and that you’re better off with mud and snows instead of studs. Of course, being a lesbian, I have no use for studs anyway.
  9. Freezing rain. This is rain that falls from the sky and turns to solid ice. Also known as a silver thaw. Beautiful but deadly. If this happens, we don’t go anywhere. Well some of us do. Which leads to number 10.
  10. Most popular snow day pastime: Watching the news. The storm gets named, the news stations report on it day and night, with lots of clips of cars sliding down hills into other cars. Sort of America’s Funniest Home Videos on steroids. The MAX line can’t run because the electrical lines that power the thing get covered with ice. The buses can’t run because chains, which are put on at the first sign of snow, don’t work on ice. Airplanes freeze to the runway. Sometimes the freaking rivers freeze (and we have BIG rivers out here.) Numbnuts who think this is “normal” snow go for a drive. They end up in emergency rooms, on the news, or both.
  11. Other popular pastimes: Cardboard sleds, school snow days, digging the car out just so you can wreck it at the end of the driveway on the, duh, ice.

Anyway, that’s what I’m up to right now. Waiting for snow and ice. YIPPEE!

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