Neither Rain, Nor Wind, Nor Dark of Night: Blogging in All Weather

By , November 16, 2009

The winds from Saturday’s storm have abated, the wind generator has slowed, but our heads are still spinning!

People use words like “storm” and “blizzard” so often, and so off-handedly that the true impact of these terms become somewhat diluted. When the National Weather Service uses them, one realizes that the words have official connotations, including set minimum levels of severe weather. Then one is forced to be less cavalier.

The storm reached at least 50-knot winds, and met all the other requirements of the term as defined by the Beaufort wind scale.

I haven’t looked up the conditions required for a snowstorm to become an official blizzard, but we rarely hear the term used by forecasters, even though the upper Chilkat Valley (where it was forecast) gets a lot of snow without that term being used!

By early Friday afternoon we realized that the weather forecast was inaccurate once again. The severe weather predicted for around midnight arrived early, as it so often does.

I’d just about finished a couple of posts that I wanted to schedule for publication on Self Reliance Works. I needed to load them into the composing software and save them online. Time grew short, because on the other side of that early arriving forecast, a Storm loomed. As a matter of safety, we don’t run our wind generator in 50-knot sustained wind speeds (greater than 57.5 mph). Nor, if it snowed, would we have an Internet connection until after it passed. Saturday promised to be dark and free of most electronic devices.

The wind had picked up to a steady 30 knots; higher gusts whipped the wind generator into “furling” mode (in high winds the prop pivots away from the wind, lessening the pressure) sounding like an old biplane about to crash land. The seas quickly built to around seven feet. Darkness came early. Snow drove sideways through the air, coating our satellite dish.

Connectivity slowed; browser windows began to hang. To upload, I’d click “save,” then run out the door, grabbing our car window brush/scraper as I passed through the porch.

Gingerly picking my way across slime-slicked, rotting planks and sharp, wet boulders—all covered with an inch of wet snow—I rounded the windbreak, taking the freshening gale in the face as I reached the satellite dish. Extending my brush and locking it, I began swiping off accumulated slush on the nearly vertical parabola. Fat, soggy flakes stuck immediately after each pass; by the time I called it “good,” the dish was lightly covered again. After another dash up the beach and through the dooryard, I plopped in front of the computer without bothering to remove my boots. I had about five, maybe ten minutes to upload my changes before I had to run back out and clean the dish yet again.

I got everything uploaded before the wind and snow shut us down. Some days, I’m not so lucky. At those times, I just have to wait for my next best chance.

This isn’t a normal life—not by a long shot. But even at moments like this, I’ll take it.

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