Last week, on the 35th anniversary of the “Blizzard of ‘78,” Mother Nature socked us again with the “Blizzard of 2013.” If you lived through that great snow tempest of 1978, you’ll recall it snowed for three days with accumulations of 2-4 feet with drifts up to 8 feet. It shut down the entire state for a full week, but throughout that epic storm power was never lost.
We had plenty of notice for this year’s blizzard. We wondered if the weather men’s predictions would be accurate, since we remembered that last year on the same weekend in February, every local TV and radio station was predicting heavy snow. Mike and I were scheduled to present a lecture on that weekend, but because of the weather forecast, the event was cancelled. We woke up that Saturday morning to find that nary a single snowflake had fallen. As Mike’s father used to say, the storm had suddenly “turned left and gone out to sea.” This year we were again scheduled to present a lecture, and again it was cancelled. This time for good reason.
Since this year’s forecast for extreme weather was so certain, we checked the batteries, gassed up the snow blower, and even remembered to disconnect the electric garage door opener in case we lost power. Then we hunkered down, making sure we had milk, bread, popcorn, wine, good books and movies. Friday night we listened to the wind howling, blowing snow sideways and tearing a large limb from our neighbor’s maple tree. Then the lights went out.
While this year’s blizzard dropped less snow (we had about 18” with drifts up to 3’), than the Blizzard of ’78, the real threat was the loss of electricity – much of RI and MA was without power while the temperature plummeted to single digits. We lost our electricity about 10 pm Friday night and woke Saturday morning to temperatures inside the house in the low 50’s. Mike spent several hours clearing the snow and I surveyed the back and front yards, taking pictures.
Our roses created an almost surreal winter landscape with their canes poking through the snow, a dramatic departure from what the gardens look like in June. Since snow is an excellent natural insulator, it provided additional winter protection to the winter cover we had already applied a few months ago. The landscape was completely white with the only color from the garden art Mike created two years ago and hung on the side of our shed – a lonely reminder that spring will come eventually.
By suppertime on Saturday, the house had gotten very cold and it looked like it was going to be a three-dog night. We were bundled up in bed like two caterpillars when the lights finally came on late Saturday night. The power was only off for 24 hours but seemed a lot longer than that. We’ll have to wait until spring to determine what damage, if any, was done to the rose bushes by the weight of all that snow. The real lesson learned here was how vulnerable we were without power in the middle of the winter – modern technology didn’t keep us warm. But our roses, like us, are hardy and we all survived the Blizzard of 2013.