Snow, Snow, Snow

Living in upstate New York other people, who don’t live here,  are always fascinated with the weather here in the winter.  Since we grew up in this area it really is no big deal to us.  In fact, the area that my wife and I lived as children was far worse.

Snow inthe streets

Snow inthe streets

We lived in a small town about seven miles from Oswego, New York.  Oswego is the snow capital of New York.  It was not uncommon for storms off of Lake Ontario to dump – and that is the correct word – dump 9 feet of snow in one weekend.

One year, about 1957, our school was closed for two weeks as the roads were impassable.  There was a drift across the road in front of our house that defied plowing.  My mother and I sat fascinated as a large winged snow plow raced at it and literally bounced off the drift.  Later they would bring in a large rotary plow that chewed its way through the drift leaving snow banks about 6-8 feet high.

Still this has been a hard winter and we take this into consideration when we plan anything.  When we lived in Sacramento, we had season tickets to the theater and symphony.  But not here as we really cannot be sure from day to  day whether we will be able to attend a scheduled performance.

Of course when we lived in  the Washington D.C. area snow brought additional trials to traffic there.  At the time I was still in the Air Force and had about an 18 mile commute into the District of Columbia where Bolling AFB was located.   On a good day it would take 45 minutes; on a bad one- as much as 2 hours.  One never knew what the D.C. Beltway would be like until it was too late.  And that was in good weather mostly.  Add snow into the equation and literally chaos ensued.

Snow threw the whole metro D.C. area into panic.  In December 1986, one day it began to snow at noon and was beginning to really come down.  At this point, about 1 p.m., a decision was made by “Someone in Authority” to send the entire federal government home.  Now think about this:  several hundred thousand government employees hit the snowy roads all at the same time.

I wisely, so I thought, decided to wait it out until the traffic had dissipated and did not leave work until 3:30 p.m.  I got on the interstate to go home and as I approached the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, always a bottleneck even at good times, the traffic ground to a halt.  After 2 hours of crawling about 5 miles I was able to turn around and returned to the base.  So there was no option but to wait.  On 7 p.m. I hit the road again.  This time traffic was light, that’s because people had abandoned their cars on the bridge and along the road way.  Still it took me until 10:30 p.m to finally get home.  It was not a fun day.

View of the yard

View of the yard

This year we have had the most snow in about 20 years in the Finger Lakes where we live.  We jokingly call this Shangri-La as in most years the storms pass to the north or south of us.   As I write this we have about two feet of snow on the ground with more forecast in the upcoming days.

So we will grin and bear it,  as we truly know it could be worse.

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About jenorv

John E. Norvell is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel, decorated air combat veteran of the Vietnam War, and former Assistant Professor of American and Military History at the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has written freelance for the Washington Post, the Middle Tennessee Journal of Genealogy and History, and for several newspapers around the country.
This entry was posted in Air Force, American History, Bolling AFB, Canandaigua NY, Family History, New York, Norvell Family History, NY History, Ontario Co, Social History and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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