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