Life Beyond Boating  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

Winter 2008-09
January 28, 2009
This winter officially enters the record books!

Click thumbnails below for a larger picture
Thursday, January 29, 2009

Yesterday the snow began falling in the early morning, dropping some 6 inches before turning to sleet then rain later in the day. By evening the rain had tapered off to drizzle, after turning the mess into about 3 inches of dense, compressed slush -- which would freeze overnight. (Jan. 29, 2009)

The lot was plowed after dark. It was going to be a mess when it froze, immovable. Before going to bed, I went out into the drizzle and cleared the front steps and the path from the firewood racks to the kitchen door on the side of the house. The slush was heavy, saturated snow; difficult to move, but it hadn't frozen to cement yet.

This morning at sunrise I went out and took these photos. As expected, it was like a skating rink out there, thick solid ice. The plow guys came by pre-dawn and sanded the lot, but my path to the wood racks was treacherous, and will be until it melts. The only way I could move around was wearing my YakTrax.

I've given up keeping a path open to Chip Ahoy, parked alongside the house. I didn't bother with the many other paths through my yard this time either -- the slush was too heavy and unwieldy to move, especially in last night's late drizzle. I was soaked last night just clearing the critical path to the firewood and the front steps.

I've done a better job in winters past of covering Chip Ahoy.  This season, the weight of snow and ice keeps catching in a pocket formed between the PVC ribs and lifeline. I should have made sure the ribs went above and over it. Each storm I've had to get out there and empty that pocket before it damages the tarp.

That snow pile out front from the plow continues to grow -- and the upturned dinghy (on the left) is looking more and more like an igloo! According to a National Weather Service report (see below), this winter's weather is breaking records for amount of snowfall and cold. Where's that "Global Warming" when we need it ?!?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009
After a Two-Day Thaw

On Sunday I uncovered the aft tarp over Chip Ahoy's cockpit enough to reposition the PVC skeleton frame beneath, tied it down over and outside the lifelines, then resecured the tarp. That should take care of the "pocket" problem for the next storm due tomorrow through Wednesday morning, when I'm scheduled for surgery.  (Feb. 2, 2009)

By Monday afternoon, the second day in a row of temperature in the mid-40s, the "skating rink" lot out front had finally thawed down to mostly dirt again beneath the spread sand, though ice remains. The upturned dinghy (center-left) is beginning to look a bit less igloo-like, though that mountain of plowed snow out front hasn't diminished much if any.

From atop the mountain: Two days of temperatures above freezing, with lots of rock salt and daily ice-chopping, has mostly cleared the iced-over path across the front of the house. The patches of thick ice that remain, a result of the roof's down spout drainage, will make future shoveling more difficult, and the next storm is due this morning.  (Feb. 3, 2009)

The Boston Globe
Thursday, January 29, 2009

"Boston has been blasted with 49 inches of snow so far this year, more than double the average at this date of 22 inches. Temperatures this frigid month are also well below the January average of 29.3 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. On many days the temperature plummeted more than 15 degrees below the historical average for that day."

Fallen spirits
Winter's accumulations deepen gloom in Hub
By Michael Levenson

Retirement accounts have evaporated. The world is in turmoil. Jobs, if they're still there, seem at risk of washing down the drain like so much slush on the street. And now, as if to pile on, winter has become a parade of insults: dump upon dump of snow, followed by sleet, wind, and bitter cold. And it's only January.

"I'm sick of winter already," grumbled Kerry Guiliano, a downtown office worker who was being pelted with snow and rain as she trudged along State Street, swathed in a heavy coat and wool hat, enduring the seventh storm this season. Temperatures have been far colder and snowfall much heavier than average.

"I feel like I'm in Minneapolis," said her co-worker, Alanna Barton.

New Englanders are hardly strangers to long, endurance-testing winters, but this year's onslaught has bludgeoned already bruised spirits. Everywhere in the city, it seems, grim faces are grimmer than usual. Tempers are short, outlooks glum.

"Look at this," said Hassan Akdogan, the owner of a Faneuil Hall jewelry kiosk who stared morosely out the window at snow falling on sidewalks bereft of shoppers. "No one wants to come down here when it snows. It's terrible. Even last summer was bad because of the economy. Everybody is having it tough, not like it used to be."

Everyone's complaint is slightly different. The new mother in Roslindale suffers from cabin fever, the bus dispatcher from Puerto Rico longs to go back home where it's warm, hordes of homeowners fight the endless battle to keep driveways and sidewalks clear.

"Everybody's complaining," said Khalid Ourdani, a taxi driver who hears the gripes coming from the back seat. "There's no business, especially with the weather right now. And with the customers - you can tell from conversations with people - people are losing their jobs."

In a typical year, a vacation to a warm destination would sustain people going through the worst of the winter. But with 401(k)s and pensions vanishing and jobs in peril, many have had to rule out a getaway.

"I can see the people who go every year: They're not doing it, and I just feel bad," said Joe Wagg, a travel agent who books cruises to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

"The other side of that is, there are great bargains out there, absolutely great pricing," he said. "But if you're worried about your 401(k) or even the company you work for, it's not the time to be spending money. . . . It's very frustrating."

Boston has been blasted with 49 inches of snow so far this year, more than double the average at this date of 22 inches. Temperatures this frigid month are also well below the January average of 29.3 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. On many days the temperature plummeted more than 15 degrees below the historical average for that day.

"It just goes on and on and on," said Sonny Lane, a 49-year-old construction worker who was shoveling the walk in front of his house in South Boston. "As you get older, it's sort of like you don't deserve it. You deserve to have a little R and R."

On Washington Street in Roslindale, Felix Del Valle, a 53-year-old bus dispatcher originally from Puerto Rico, shoveled snow from the sidewalk in front of his house. "As soon as I get my retirement, I'm out of here, back to the island where I belong," he said. "I'm sick of it already. There's nowhere to put the snow. It seems like every week it snows and you don't know where to put it."

Nevertheless, some seemed to stay upbeat, even delighting in the cruel elements. "I love it!" shouted Kyle Redmond, a 48-year-old maintenance worker who was gleaming in a yellow slicker and fluorescent orange hat and gloves, shoveling snow in front of a State Street office building. "I'm going skiing this weekend, and they're getting at least a foot."

"Business as usual," said Janice Weber, smiling as she used a shovel to hack away at a bank of snow and ice that was blocking the storm drain in front of her house in Jamaica Plain. "Good exercise, right?"

Yet, more often than not, gripes and worries are easier to come by than enthusiasm and good cheer, uniting people from different communities and different neighborhoods in a chorus of complaint.

"You do have this kind of Northeastern bonding, and everyone's telling their war stories," said Anastasios Theodorou, a business analyst who was taking a cigarette break outside his office downtown. "I talk about '78 and other people talk about - when was it, '97? - when we had that huge blizzard in April.

"There's nothing you can do about it: It's the weather," he shrugged. "You can complain, but it's not going to change anything."

Dec. 28, 2008  |  Jan. 1, 2009  |  Jan 11, 2009  | Back to Jan 18, 2009  |  NEXT  |  March 1, 2009

Back to Chip Ford

Back to Chip Ahoy