Weather Signs and Facts
by Ron S.
This winter has been one for the record books. Here we are at the beginning of March and all five of the Great Lakes remain open. Normally by this time all of the lakes except Superior are locked tight in ice but due to the abnormally warm January, the lakes never froze. In one of my previous articles, I mentioned the lake effect snow that occurred in November would continue until the lakes froze thus shutting down the snowmaking machine. So during the month of February, the snowmaking machine was still working and produced heavy snow for the month. The fifteenth of February, which was a Wednesday, started out with a winter storm watch that quickly changed to a winter storm warning and then finally to a blizzard warning. The warnings were in effect until the seventeenth of February. During the blizzard, we had a phenomenon known as thunder snow. Just before the snow started to fall, there were several lightening strikes, which were close to where I was located for the thunder was deafening. When the strikes were occurring the falling snow turned a brilliant blue. What is unnerving about lightening strikes during snowstorms is that one never sees it approaching. The total snow accumulations from the storm were around twenty inches, depending on the location. Thursday morning I awoke at 3:00 am to start my day of digging out. My first stop was the Alden Village Market to clear the parking lot and on my way I found the roads to be nearly impassable even with a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The roads were buried under two feet of snow with some drifts up to the side mirrors on my truck. It took about an hour to arrive at my destination that under normal circumstances takes about ten minutes. They were announcing on the radio at that time that all Antrim County roads were closed and that M72 was closed between Kalkaska and Acme. We had wind gusts up to sixty miles per hour, which created whiteout conditions. The near zero visibility lasted all day. I did not start clearing the last driveway until about 8:00 pm The driveway was a sharp S-curve that was down a forty-five degree hillside. Halfway down the drive there was a ninety-degree turn. Everything was going smoothly until I got to the second turn and that's when things went awry. I had pushed snow up to the rock wall on the left side of the drive when the rear of the truck slid around against the right side. I was hopelessly stuck. After assessing the situation, I decided that there was no way I was getting out without help. In the meantime, the temperature had dropped to nine above zero that's when I decided to call Ken's Towing. Rich arrived on the scene within about twenty minutes. He thought that the best way to proceed was to drive down to the first turn and winch the rear of the truck sideways away from the south wall so that I would be able to back out of the driveway. Well, the plan worked and I was able to back the rest of the way up the hill under my own power. Ken's Towing saved the day. I was back at home safe and sound just a few minutes before midnight. Thanks again, Rich.
(Excerpt from the Elk Rapids News March 9, 2006)