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Sunday, February 9, 2014

Still alive, but still snowed in

Thomas Kraemer's Japanese Garden snow day Feb. 8, 2014

PHOTO: After three days of snow, on Feb. 8, 2014 my Japanese garden is buried in snow, which is unusual for Corvallis, Oregon where it typically rains in the winter.

Yardstick showing snow depth on Feb. 8, 2014

PHOTO: a yard stick shows the depth of snow, estimated at more than 14 inches, which fell outside my Corvallis, Oregon home during the three days prior to Feb. 8, 2014.

When I was growing up in Minnesota, I went to school for 12 years straight without having a single day cancelled due to snow because the town officials would figuratively strap a snowplow on the front of every school bus to ensure that kids would have no excuse for missing school. Older Minnesotans would wax on about having to snow ski over miles of frozen tundra when they were kids.

Therefore, I always scoffed at my acquaintances in Oregon for closing school at the drop of one flake of snow, however, after moving here, I got a new respect for why they appeared to be so weak. I learned firsthand how the weather in the Oregon Willamette Valley is mild due to warm ocean air in the winter that typically brings in one rain storm after another moderated by the coastal mountain range, even though my home in Oregon is closer to the North Pole than my home was in Minnesota. As a result, when the rare snow event occurs, it can come down in the form of sheet ice at the triple-point where liquid water, freezing fog and ice can coexist with snow. I learned the hard way that even with chains and studded tires on your car, something I never was required to use in the worst of Minnesota snow storms, driving in an Oregon's rain/snow showers can be hazardous to your health and car! So to my friends back east, please don't scoff at me until you've experience it!

I am just grateful to still have electricity and running water (a large area of Corvallis went without power last night) and I was fortunate to see the weather predictions so I had time to get plenty of food and water to tide me through possibly a week of being house bound.

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