Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Two Storms

The border between New York and Pennsylvania is a straight line for some distance then it turns southeastward and becomes a squiggle.  The Delaware River is responsible for the snake.  The straight line is a creation of politicians.  Our homestead is located about 35 miles due north of the point of change.  So located we do endure coastal storms but without the massive amounts of snowfall that paralyze cities like New York or Boston.  This time the nor'easter first dropped a mixture of rain, ice and then snow.  Closest to the ground, pebbly ice formed.  It was followed by snow that became drier towards the end of the storm.  The accumulated mix was unbelievably heavy.

Arctic air pushed that storm out to sea and air temperatures plummeted.  With the Great Lakes still free of ice, we continue to get lake effect snowfall.  Here again we are well positioned some distance from the lake so much of the snow falls before the storm reaches us.  This system held control for the past two days.  Snowfall was not excessive but it was persistent.  For us, this snow removal was a three day event.

My lawn tractors fitted with a snow plow and a snow blower were never intended to be used on a long driveway with a major hill and curves.  Flat blacktop suburban driveways close to the road are what the engineers had in mind for these machines.  In my location some cleverness and considerable time are required to clear the lane.  First, the plow is used to push snow toward the center of the drive.  A light touch is needed here as a plow stuck going down hill is really stuck.  If the outboard tip of the blade catches deep snow, the tractor tries to bury itself.  The return trip back to the top of the hill pushes almost no snow because of the steepness of the ice coated hill.

When a suitably sized row of snow is piled near the center of the lane, the snowblower is used to clear this snow.  The mechanic that installed the blower this season shortened the rod that determines the down position of the scraper blade.  That made his work easier but now my snowblower does not come close to contacting the road surface.  The unit rides over much snow packing it firmly down.  The wet nature of the lower snow made this packed snow impossible to plow.

A great deal of time was required to clear the drive.  Actually, the packed snow provided a usable driving surface since the ice layer was beneath it.  We will see how this all works out when melting happens.  Here the stone wall edging the garden near the road is nearly buried.  Lumps in the near surface were made by blower thrown snow that cleared a considerable distance.

The town road crews drive monster trucks.  With proper equipment, accumulated snow is easily pushed to the side.  My tiny tractors can only pile this much snow if they are driven straight into the snow.  It is impressive just how much snow they can push forward but all of that changing direction and raising the blade for the backwards move are hard on the operator.  My use of the snowblower to blast the snow clear of the driveway is easier on me.

Airborne snow and winter winds frequently send a fine white stinging mist in my direction.  This snowfall featured heavy wet snow.  It is thrown clear as chunks and both the machine and its operator show their true colors.

In the last picture the clear blue sky in the west point to better weather conditions for tomorrow.  Cold clear skies allow the ever strengthening sunlight to evaporate snow.  The plowing remains unfinished since I need to be inside.  In my younger days plowing by headlights was possible but not today.  Above freezing days are in the forecast so we will allow nature to finish removing this snow.

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