Yes, it snows in Albany in March

Reading in the dark

Some folks became distraught when the forecast suggested a four-letter word starting with S on Saturday. But it snows in Albany in March, even after the vernal equinox. We got maybe three or four inches, c. 8 cm. It wasn’t a big deal because we had received less than two feet all season. OR SO I THOUGHT.

Some folks north of Albany, and especially in Vermont, got hammered with from a foot to close to three feet. THEY can complain!

My initial annoyance was that there was virtually no snow, just rain. Because of an error in construction, our sidewalk puddles greatly. Walking past our house, one needed waders. Did you ever try to shovel rain?

Fortunately, the precipitation turned to snow, and I was able to shovel the heavy mess. I am very good at removing snow; I do not create a shovelwidth-wide path.

That’s the night the lights went out in Albany

More inconvenient was that the power went out shortly after 5 pm. I discovered that my bedroom is the best place to read before dark. Not only does it have a western exposure, but the backyard is sufficiently large.

So I did what I do too infrequently: I finished the last 30 pages of one book and read the first 30 pages of another.

Several years ago, I purchased Eco-I-Lite, a “rechargeable & ready emergency flashlight… for when the power goes out.” For some reason, someone had unplugged it, and the parts—the plug and flashlight—disappeared into two different boxes. Fortunately, I found both sections in late February and plugged them into the wall. It was handy.

Kellogg’s CEO recently opined that poor families should eat cold cereal for dinner. This comment rightly received a lot of pushback, as “cereal prices have risen 28% over the last four years.” That night, I DID have cereal for dinner, but it was the combo of General Mills and Post cereals. My wife chose cold pizza instead. Dinner by candlelight; how romantic.

The power returned at 9:26 p.m. I know this because the DVR started recording the figure skating my wife wanted to watch.

And then

The next day, the sidewalk was akin to an ice rink as the temperature plummeted overnight. I had to use rock salt, or whatever it is that they make for this purpose.  Scraping off my wife’s car was onerous. Then she noticed this:

The severed part of the tree, fortunately, fell onto another tree rather than the house behind it, or our car, which was parked under the tree. The temperature was 20F.

After church, we checked out the arboreal destruction in Washington Park, which was extensive. Along State Street, we saw this  minor example:

I theorize that the rapid temperature changes caused the water to freeze on the trees, making them vulnerable, especially the evergreens.

Now it was 35F, above freezing. As my wife drove us home, the ice that had adhered to our car roof was dislodged and rushed onto our front windshield. At the next red light, I jumped out of the car and cleared the icebergs. 

The other unfortunate outcome of the weather variations was a sudden plethora of potholes in places that were not problems two days earlier. Some of them were pretty large.

So, even a four-inch snowstorm CAN be a PITA.

A tree falls in Albany

Estimated Time of Restoration – Assessing

tree falls
this was actually in Oregon
As I’ve noted, my family had this great week in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts in mid-August, most of which I’ve noted. My daughter went to a Six Flags amusement park with her three cousins and an uncle when my wife and I saw a play.

We get home around 2 p.m. on a Friday and start putting things away, including a lot of leftover perishable food squeezed into the refrigerator.

There was a thunderstorm warning for Albany County from 4:45 to 5:45 pm, and some rain did fall, but it didn’t seem so bad. So my wife drove out to the bank. A few moments later, a deluge worthy of Louis XIV fell.

It was raining the extreme rain when the umbrella and slicker are useless. Then it rained even harder so that a couple young women walking by started screaming. I ran out to see if they were being assaulted, and they were, by the skies.

The house lights flickered three or four times, then stayed on for about 10 seconds, before going out altogether. This was roughly at 6 p.m.

Interestingly, there was a notice on my phone from our power company, National Grid. “6:15 pm We detected power outages near [address]. There are currently 229 other customers also associated with this outage. We are investigating and will provide updates around progress when we get more information.” That was 229 in OUR section of the grid; there were plenty of other outages, I later learned.

“Outage Status – New Outage; Estimated Time of Restoration – Assessing.” Now I didn’t actually SEE this information until the next day, because my phone, which had died, which it does regularly. Even my daughter, who is much more diligent about these things, had no phone eventually.

My wife finally got home – she waited out the storm, wisely, and reported a tree down on Lancaster Street, a couple blocks away, and insisted that I see it. It was impressive. A large branch on a tree between two houses, almost certainly struck by lightning, toppled across the street, taking a power line with it, but barely missing someone’s car.

We got out the flashlights and the candles. My wife got pizza from the place a couple blocks away, which had power. But it was so quiet in the house I walked to the local CVS and bought batteries so we could at least listen to the radio.

I carried a flashlight because my block was dark except for the school, which must have an emergency generator. Suddenly, I started craving the same until my wife told me the process would cost us thousands, which somewhat dampened my enthusiasm.

We played UNO by candlelight. I think not having electricity actually got my daughter to go to sleep earlier than usual. But I couldn’t sleep because it was Too Darn Hot.

In the morning, I went onto the front porch to read the newspaper. Then at 9:03 a.m., I heard our air conditioner kick on. Others in the neighborhood got power overnight. National Grid said the neighborhood power was back at 12:41 p.m.

Subsequent to that, we had a couple more periods of large amounts of rain falling in a very short period of time, with the attendant flash flooding. My wife told my daughter to put away the candles, but the teen was understandably resistant.

What an interesting homecoming. Note: I said “A tree fell in Albany,” but there were quite a few, I believe.

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