Snow!

Whether considered blessing or curse simply depends on your outlook.

I regularly share photos of my outdoors adventures on my personal Facebook page. Most photos feature one or both of my dogs while we’re on a run or walk in the forest, through all of the changing seasons.

Recently, after posting photos from a run on a snow-covered road in the forest, my friend Eb commented: “Why is it that I get cold every time I see and read one of your posts, Becky? I have this deal with snow: it stays in the mountains and I stay down here!”

To which I replied, “It’s a dry cold, Eb! Much better than the humid cold of the coast. And I’ll take snow over rain any day!”

Eb admitted I have a point. He lives in Salem. I grew up in Seattle. On the coasts of Oregon and Washington one learns to live with rain, but snow is relatively rare and when it does hit, all hell breaks loose because no one knows how to drive in it. Metro buses slide sideways down Seattle’s steep hills. Commuters abandon their vehicles alongside freeways. Whole coastal cities come to grinding halts when just a few inches of snow covers their roads because they don’t have the plows to move it off. There, snow is meant to stay up in the Cascade range of mountains where one goes downhill skiing. That’s the only relationship with snow they appreciate or want.

I grew up downhill skiing in the Cascade mountains east of Seattle, and fearing having to drive in snow in the city.

When I moved to Idaho’s mountains in 2005, my coast friends couldn’t understand why, and were especially concerned how I would survive in winter with several feet of snow on the ground for months on end.

Admittedly, I wasn’t entirely sure myself. But I was willing to figure it out.

I’m so glad I did. I’ve come to love winter and all the snow it brings. As I told Eb, I much prefer snow to rain. I learned how to layer clothing, gloves and hats for the various ways I like to play on the snow – running, walking, xc skiing, or snowshoeing. I discovered that the chill one feels at 30F in Seattle – a bone deep chill because of the humidity – feels almost warm here, where I don’t start to feel a similar chill until the temps dip into the single digits. Here, the snow falls off your hat and coat. On the coast, rain seeps right through.

Driving on snow here is a breeze. I don’t need chains; don’t even own any anymore. All wheel drive is sufficient. The snow is usually cold and dry, compacting nicely under all-season tires. Plowing happens regularly and efficiently, so much so that the main roads are often bare and dry by mid-morning.

Many homeowners have their own snowblowers or small tractors for pushing snow off their driveways, or like me, they hire someone who automatically comes to plow any time there’s four or more inches of new snow.

I designed my home with in-floor radiant heat in textured concrete floors with a ground loop geothermal system that is incredibly cheap and efficient to operate on electricity. My house stays 70F day and night without any input from me. No stacking and then hauling wood inside to feed a wood-burning stove for heat, like so many of my neighbors, putting smoke into the otherwise-pristine air.

As I sit at my computer writing this, I’m looking out my home office windows at a snow-covered landscape. Today the snow is swirling and blowing sideways, which is unusual; it’s rarely windy here. The National Weather Service has been warning of a significant snow event the past few days, with today’s seven-day forecast highlighted in red to drive home the point.

weather forecast chart

Winter Storm Warning

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE, 236 PM MST Fri Jan 10 2020

…HEAVY MOUNTAIN SNOW THIS WEEKEND INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK…

…WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 5 PM MST TUESDAY…

* WHAT…Heavy snow expected. In the West Central and Boise mountains, total snow accumulations through Tuesday afternoon of 1 to 3 feet with 4 to 5 feet possible across higher mountains.

* WHERE…West Central Mountains, Boise Mountains and Upper Weiser River zones.

* WHEN…From 2 PM this afternoon to 5 PM MST Tuesday.

* IMPACTS…Travel could be very difficult to impossible.

***

I knew this series of storms was coming because I still pay attention to Seattle news and the Facebook posts of my friends living there. They’ve been bracing for a Seattle version of snowmageddon for the past couple of days. When my father was alive and living outside Seattle, he and I talked by phone regularly after I moved to Idaho (2005-2008). Weather was often our “warm up” topic of conversation. Being a pilot all his life, he had significant experience with weather predictions. He would let me know what was happening in his area and what the forecast there was, and warn that something similar would hit me roughly 24 hours later. Weather systems hit western Washington, he said, then push up and over the Cascades to flow east toward Idaho. He was always right.

So here we go, a five-day hazardous winter weather warning from the National Weather Service, starting tonight and lasting through Tuesday. A wave of three storms, apparently. Each day has predicted levels of several inches of accumulated snow, with the total over the five days adding up to anywhere from one to three feet (up to five feet in higher elevations).

My cupboards are stocked. Bring it!

In preparation for having to stick close to home for a few days, the boys and I have been out playing a lot over the past few days, including a wonderful run this morning before the new snowfall started. The following photos show the various ways we have learned to embrace and enjoy snow in Idaho.

Snow. It’s a state of mind. I chose to welcome rather than fear it.

man and dogs in snow
My friend Ben was willing to tag along with me and the boys on a “run” on snowshoe trails yesterday morning. Between making plans the night before and showing up at the trailhead, three inches of new snow fell. Undaunted, we ventured out and had a blast, despite working harder than planned.
dog on xc ski trail
Later Thursday afternoon Conall and I went xc skiing in near-perfect conditions, finishing at sunset.
mountain view
The calm before the anticipated storm, a view to the west from the xc ski trails Thursday afternoon.
Wolf moon rising
Driving home after xc skiing, the full Wolf Moon made an appearance above the mountains to the east of my house.
dogs on forest road
This morning we got lucky: the snowmobile road near home had been groomed overnight and the boys and I got to make first tracks running on the lovely corduroy surface at sunup.
dogs on groomed snow trail
Happy dogs (and me) running through the snowy forest this morning, finishing just before the predicted new snow started falling.

Feature image: sun setting through trees while xc skiing on January 9, 2020.

17 thoughts on “Snow!”

  1. You can’t argue with the beauty of freshly fallen snow. And when you live in cold climates you do get used to it. Honestly I prefer those all day storms that dump a huge batch at once over the piddly little inch or two. If it’s going to snow? SNOW!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s sixty degrees in Pennsylvania today, and raining. I don’t really like the snow except for a run right when it is still falling. I see every warm winter day as tricking winter, and I love to trick winter. I live in a rural area and the roads are plowed as soon as it snows. There just aren’t many roads to plow. When I lived in DC, sometimes my street would *never* get plowed. The snow would just melt over a couple of weeks and we’d be able to start driving on the road again. The pictures make me want to teleport there of the afternoon though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your DC experience sounds a lot like Seattle.
      If it’s 60F in PA today, you have mad trickster skills. You must be running in shorts! My running shorts will hide in a drawer until…June 🙂

      Like

  3. This weekend our parish priest at Blessed Sacrament, Seattle, granted mass absolution to anyone who fails to make it to Mass next weekend. “I don’t need to hear about why you missed Mass in Confession.”

    Given his relationship with Almighty God ( the man has a seat on the board ) I suspect he has been told things not even the secular weather forecasters know about what is coming here.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Those are awesome pictures! I have to admit, I’m not a big snow fan, but only because of what it does to the city around here, which is basically closes it down. I spent two winters living in West Germany, then a winter in Chicago, followed by two more winters in Maine. So the way I see it, is I’ve had my fair share. The exception to that is snow in the mountains. I love for it to snow when I am in the mountains. I love to hike in the snow when I am in the mountains as long as I have a nice warm place to come back to when I’m done. My wife and I are headed up to our favorite cabins in the mountains on Valentine’s Day weekend and I hope we get snow then.

    Liked by 1 person

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