Photography by J. Mita Studios

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Snowstorm of 2011 Revisited

October 30, 2011 - Weigold Rd. in Tolland, CT.

As we prepare for yet another Halloween storm for 2012, (this time a fall hurricane) the memories of last years storm are still quite fresh.  We were out of power for 8 days last year, but luckily we had a generator which we ran about half of every day.  The news stations are filled with hourly updates today regarding Hurricane Sandy.  So far 40 are dead in the Caribbean, and the beaches along Florida have eroded substantially.  The hurricane may break down to become just a tropical storm, but it will be here pretty much without doubt by tomorrow night. 

There are already sell outs of generators, and we had to visit 5 stores today before finally finding another 5 gallon gas can.  The prediction this year is that we will have a combination of a cold front from the west with tropical winds from the east.  It appears both systems just might butt heads right over Connecticut. 

Junk food has been stowed, we have meats to barbecue, gas will get bought tomorrow, and the generator is in very good working order, unlike last year when we had to create a broken piece with parts from another generator in order to get it to work.  Fun, fun, fun. 

The horse farm next door to us was so beautiful after the snow fell last year.  By the afternoon much of the snow had melted.  This was taken around 7:30 in the morning. 


The many plow trucks had cleared the roads
of snow, but there were still numerous
closures everywhere from broken trees,
branches, and downed wires.



We were one of the last streets in Tolland to lose our power.  The wind came through in a loud wail starting early Saturday morning, and by Saturday night our lights began to flicker, and by 11:30 we were in the dark.  The generator was brought out, and we kept our fingers crossed that it would work.  It did, and we were grateful that we were warm and safe while the storm raged outside.  Throughout the night, cracks could be heard from every direction.  We knew branches and trees were falling and that trunks were being heaved from their roots.  We heard one large crack, then the sound of a whole tree falling nearby, and I thought for sure it was our white pine, but when I looked out it still stood, strongly and stubbornly as snow coated its soft needled branches.  On Sunday, as I took my short walk I found where the tree had fallen.  It was across our neighbors roof across the street.
The fallen tree had snapped their wires coming from their house.  They did not get their power restored for 10 days.


Our white pine had lost some branches, but the tree is strong and big and I guess it would take a tornado to knock it down, thank goodness.  We hope we never see a tornado in these parts.  This was looking out first thing in the morning on Oct. 30 from the front door. 

Our first morning, I did not have a hot plate (I would recommend at least one to everyone.  They come in handy even if you just have a small generator) so I took my old camp coffee pot, filled it with water and fresh ground coffee, and placed it on the charcoal burning in the grill.  We had fresh perked coffee and muffins that we had been smart enough to buy the day before.  We went out that afternoon and got a hot plate in of all places Willimantic.   They had not lost any power there.  It was also where we had to buy our gas, since every other gas station within 10 miles of us were either out of gas or out of power.  That first day was quite frustrating as the lines looking for gas and food were long, and restaurants were running out of food. 
This year, we are not only wary, but much wiser.  Generator sales for the last quarter of last year were higher than ever.  Why anybody who had been through this storm last year waited until now to get a generator is a bit silly.  We need generators in New England.  We get all the weather. 
Last year I missed 2 days of work because the store was closed from having no power.  We have already been warned this year that this could happen again.  One way to spend the long days last year was driving around to see the damage in other neighborhoods.  The devastation was like a war zone.  Every 20 feet there were trees down, and many roads were impassable from downed wires. 
Our road where it intersected with Grant Hill Road was closed due to more trees down on wires, which we had experienced two months earlier from Hurricane Irene.  Same spot, the trees were on the opposite side of the street, but the wires that had just been repaired from Irene were once again down and the street was closed yet again.
More images from other places of downed trees. 
I have seen a lot of weather in Connecticut.  I experienced the ice storm of 1973, Storm Larry of 1978, Hurricane Gloria of 1985, and the historic winter of 2011 that dumped as much as 70 inches of snow in about a month, and none compared to the Halloween storm of 2011.  This storm was the worse in damage and power outages. 
As we watch the news today and see the information on Hurricane Sandy, I have to hope that it peters out before it reaches Connecticut, because with the numerous weak trees out there still, something tells me if this hits us, we will be looking at another 10 days of outages since the main focus this time will be clearing roads first, then restoring power.