Thursday, February 3, 2011

It Had To Happen.................

Chicago is known for its horrible winters, endless weeks of sub-zero temperatures, lots of ice and gritty, lake-effect snow. I didn't really appreciate the difference in types of snow before moving here but trust me, lake-effect snow just feels like a total rip-off. It doesn't float down in big, downy flakes, it is tiny and hard. Not 'fun' snow at all. We don't usually get big snow storms, just almost daily bothersome blusters of this nasty old lake-effect.
This year has been quite amazing, we have watched as the east coast of the US has been pummeled with one monster snow storm after another. I think New York City is well over 50 inches so far. Even down in the far south, states that never normally see snow have been belted. We were in our usual state of permanent freeze but there was a definite lack of snow, a couple of inches here or there that quickly turned into ice but that was about it.
And then, this weekend the media started talking about the monster storm that was headed our way. A big blizzard that was going to envelope us for at least 24 hours. The hype built and built, names like 'snowmagedon,' 'snowpocalipse,' 'snowtorious B.I.G,' and even 'snowprah' started doing the rounds. Of course many people were very skeptical about the impending onslaught. My husband told me on a daily basis that the weather people didn't know what they were talking about etc, etc. And so we waited. Well it seems that the weather people did know what they were talking about after all because Tuesday at 3pm (exactly when they said it would) the storm arrived. And my oh my what a storm it was. I left work at 4pm for my short walk to get home and by the time I got in I was exhausted. I am usually totally wrapped up whenever I set foot outside at this time of the year anyway, with just my eyes visible peeping through the layers but as I struggled through the storm, the wind and the driving snow was so bad I actually got an 'ice cream headache' by the time I got home. My eyes were burning from the snow being blown so hard and it was a good job I knew my route by heart because I couldn't see the path at all.

So, safely ensconced at home we let the weather do its worst.
The main road along Lake Michigan in Chicago is the legendary Lakeshore Drive and by 8pm it was a parking lot of unimaginable magnitude.

Hundreds and hundreds of cars stuck in the ice and snow and the poor drivers unable to get out or go anywhere.

Then the thunder snow started - yes really a snow storm with thunder and lightening - quite impressive. The monster storm beat us hard all night and when we woke up next morning it was still howling with 70 mph winds whipping the snow into huge drifts.
Well my spoilt animals at work don't really care what the weather is like outside, they still expect their servants to come in and tend to their needs so, although the Museum was closed and no other staff would be coming in, I had to get out there and find my way into work! 'Oh joy - why am I not a librarian!!??' I put on as many layers as I could manage and set out to do battle with the elements.

The road outside our building was deep in snow and there were several buried cars

My first hurdle (quite literally) was to get over the massive wall of snow that the ploughs had pushed across the road junction.

Once I had swum/waded/waddled through that, there was only one route and that was straight down the middle of the road. Usually at this time of the morning this road would be a constant flow of heavy traffic.

When I had trudged down the road I was presented with this! Oh goody - another drift for me to swim through to get to the door of the Museum.

The wind had sculpted the snow into some beautiful dramatic shapes so when I needed to stop to catch my breath I got chance to appreciate them.

When I finally got inside, my first task was to go back outside - we have bird feeders which are used for various programs and there were some very desperate birds who were pretty pleased to see me. I filled all the feeders and then because I felt so bad for them I scattered a few scoops of seed on the ground too.

As I went about my daily tasks I carried my camera everywhere and tried to get pictures from all the windows. It was so peaceful having the Museum to myself :)

And then through the blizzard came an arctic explorer!

Actually it was my husband dropping by to say Hi as he made his way into work.

It was a perfect photo op'

Looks pretty dramatic doesn't it?

Back to work and snapping shots as I go along.

I worked through the day and tended to all my charges and by the end of the day as I set off home, the weather had cleared and the snow looked really beautiful.

The skies cleared and the beauty of it all was quite stunning.

The ducks even managed to find the aerator in the pond and looked quite content.

When I got home I was surprised to see from the window that Lakeshore Drive was still closed and there were still over 200 cars to be dug out.

As the sun set the high rise buildings cast shadows onto the snow on the frozen lake

The calm AFTER the storm.

We ended up with 20.2 inches of snow but because of the hurricane force winds it drifted in many places to be several feet deep. Definitely one for the record books, apparently the third worst storm in Chicago's history!

Photo Credits - CJT & DominickV


Arija said...

I am so glad you braved it and fed those famished birds. Next time please wear goggles to protect your eyes.

Beautifully documented and well survived! You know I was worried about you.

That somehow does not get across how impressed i was with your post and fortitude my friend.

Blessings . . . Arija

Kathiesbirds said...

And just imagine, you got to live through it and document it all! Wow! I always throw extra seed on the ground for the birds in a situation like this. All these photos are quite dramatic, as is the story! You are one brave soul to walk home and then wade back the next day! I am amazed you were not blown away by those high winds!