WINTER HAS ARRIVED

By: joealaska , 5:58 AM GMT on March 02, 2013

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For the last few days we have been hearing BIG WEATHER coming.

YAWN.

I RARELY turn on weather reports. First, I just do not trust the predictions. Second, it does not matter. We still work and deliver food. Hurricane or not.

Our container vessel company warned me two days ago that the boat would be facing WEATHER and would probably late. This was the first time I was warned two days early. The boat arrived on time in calm weather.

But when the WEATHER subject keeps coming up with the various folk we do business with, I start to listen. Looks like they were right.

It always happens on Friday, our BUSY day. CRAZY busy, and throw in a blizzard...

It was calm early. Mid afternoon it started to snow. About an hour later it started to blow.

We were very bust today, but nothing really unusual. OH, there was that garage door thing. We had a 7 AM delivery. My driver called to tell me when he opened the door to take freight out, the door fell off. I hate that. It is a typical garage door that rolls up. YES, we have run pallets in to it. Pallets stacked so high they barely fit in, even when PUSHING them in with a forklift. Scraping the top. So we clip that garage door many times, and it recently has just been hanging in there.

Until today, just fell out of its tracks.

It was a factor when we left. We had to secure the warehouse. So we used 4 people to hold up the four panel hinged door and got the forklift forks underneath it. The forks went underneath and slid out the other side. Keeping the door upright, we pushed it into its position where it used to be while, at that time, it was supported by counter weights. We drove the forklift forward until the door fit back in its original frame, and pushed the door until it was jammed by the forklift up against the wall. DONE. Except the top part of the door flopped open a foot or so, being hinged. So we jammed a shovel as a space filler between the door and the forklift, and she all worked out welcome to Dutch engineering thank you ma’am gotta go.

Until the last minute, we were getting ready to deliver to a couple boats preparing to leave. Then the weather hit and planes turned around, including one charter. So those boats will wait for fresh crew another day (or so, who know?) and both chose tomorrow morning for delivery.

So we hoisted the garage door.

When we left around 6 PM it was blowin’ and snowin’ fairly successfully.

I filmed most of the drive home. This got interesting as there were moments of TRUE white outs. This term is used pretty loosely in the rest of the US. Heavy snow is NOT a white out. A white out to me is when you cannot see nothing but white. Panic sets in as you consider whether some idiot ahead of you is slamming the brakes and you end up rear ending him. If YOU slow down, you can be hit from behind. If YOU do not slow down, you can be hitting someone from behind. No right or wrong answer. Too bad everyone does not think the same way. It is the same situation as in Arizona and dust storms. People pull of the road and stop, as the guy behind follows the lights and rams into the slowing vehicle.

There were a couple white out situations on the 7 minute ride home. As usual, the best was as I reached the first summit of Haystack Hill. It is a funnel point for wind. White out. The first thing I was able to see was a large drift that had quickly formed coming off a hillside and across most of the road. I had to swerve to the far left to get by. It was hard to see anything the last 500 feet to my place, around a sharp turn and up a hill, then my driveway. When I turned right into the driveway I was estimating the actual entrance based on landmarks. I hit the target, but immediately there was trubba. Deep snow right at the entrance. It looked innocent. Flat. But it filled in a low point. I quickly bottomed out. TURTLING. No traction, even in four wheel drive. I went outside and looked at the situation. Again with the TRUBBA. I was off the road, but only by a few feet.

It was deep snow, maybe a foot and a half to two feet. It was heavy and wet, like damp brown sugar. And the wind was ripping, so it was hard to even see.

I was blocking the driveway, and another tenant would need to get in. I called my landlord, 100 feet away. Their daughter was the other tenant. I told them what was happening. The other tenant was also coming home. She would have to park next door. That turned into another problem, as that driveway was a slight upslope, and there was no traction. There was nothing I could do, and it could all wait until morning. I stumbled into my place. I saw that the bulk of the driveway was not a problem, just the entrance.

All windows are covered in slush, no outside views. TV was working, but is now down. Internet?

I just looked out as light is fading (8:45 PM) and the Tahoe is beached. I see a drift becoming a part of it on the down wind side. This storm is from the south.

Tomorrow morning I anticipate a good shoveling. Heavy wet snow.

Good night.

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11. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
6:35 AM GMT on March 06, 2013
joealaska has created a new entry.
10. osdianna
5:27 PM GMT on March 05, 2013
Uh, oh...looks like the weather gods are preparing another blow against Dutch, snow up to 12", wind, whiteout again...hang on Joe!

Wonder what the Kulluk is doing...or anyone in a boat, or what passes for a floating container for humans and whatever..what a piece of bad news for anyone having to earn a living on or near the water when these warnings are issued.

We had a sunny day yesterday, which I spent out on the beach from 7am to 1:30pm; the high here at home (3 blocks off the beach) was a balmy 54.3F, but out on the sand it was subject to the wind, and we were downright chilly...I feel I must moderate my experience of cold in view of what others are experiencing...we being 3 photographers, 1 videographer, a raptor researcher driving the whole day's project of searching for raptors, including an adult female gyrfalcon they caught on Saturday.

She was originally caught and banded on March 3, 2006 (I was in on that catch), and has been seen a few times since then in the Grays Harbor area...the last time in 2010 at our Christmas Bird Count. So there they were looking for falcons in particular when one of the photographers spotted a BIG falcon...it was our #8...she has a red plastic band on her left leg with a white number 8, and a standard fish & wildlife band on her right leg. So here she was caught again 7 yrs to the day of her first capture. Then she was barely into her second year, now she is a beautiful, healthy adult. Blood was drawn for a test checking for contaminants, photos all around, then the release. As with most of our captured birds, as soon as she was released she flew to a nearby log and ruffled her feathers and preened, then took off.

And where was I for this recapture? At home...I had given up my seat to another (local) photographer. So we spent all morning driving the beach looking for the gyr and she was a no-show; saw 7 eagles, 2 previously banded peregrines, and a partially paralyzed sea otter lying on the sand. They had found it near the high tide line on Sunday, reported it to the Marine Mammal Stranding network people who told him to drag it to high ground and they would come pick it up on Monday.

(There is a bacterial infection that affects sea otters, and when I "googled" it a 2006 article from Ketchikan, Ak. talked about this disease decimating the sea otter population in the Aleutians.)

Anyway, as all of you have shown in past blog entries, we are all a soft-hearted bunch...this was painful to see. This was my first look at a sea otter up close...they are much bigger than I thought, and this one still had teeth and was fully prepared to do whatever it could to use them if I got too close so I stayed my distance.

So...it has been an interesting four-day Raptor March Madness...we do this the first weekend of every March...evenings are pizza and beer and watching the days video and photos, and of course..listening to the stories. It's a lot of fun.

I didn't mean to talk so long...but what the heck.
Member Since: March 5, 2009 Posts: 35 Comments: 652
9. dotmom
9:11 PM GMT on March 04, 2013
Wonder if Joe got his TV and Internet back???
Member Since: April 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1460
8. Bogon
12:50 AM GMT on March 03, 2013
Finagle's Law: the perversity of the universe tends toward a maximum.

If one of your teeth is going to break, it will always happen on Friday, when the dentist won't reopen until Monday. If Friday is your busy day, that's when the blizzard comes.
Member Since: June 26, 2008 Posts: 85 Comments: 4347
7. ladyhomer
5:05 PM GMT on March 02, 2013
I cant believe they moved the KULLUK with the storms they have predicted for us !!!one right after the other I just hope they don't have more problems getting that thing to Dutch. We have had one storm after another & we here in Homer have been pretty lucky lately they have just skirted us so the predictions for us haven't been to bad. I know what Joe is talking about when he says white outs I lived on ADAk & we had them there all the time could not see your finger in front of your nose!!!! We get them here in Homer every once in awhile but they usually have fog with them I'll be glad when summer gets here again!!! Looks like we are going to have a nice sunny day her today!!
Member Since: November 13, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 119
6. miyuki
4:12 PM GMT on March 02, 2013
Joe, you've got nerves of steel. From my experiences, frozen fog falls into the same category as white outs.
Member Since: September 7, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 49
5. insideuk
4:04 PM GMT on March 02, 2013
Whiteouts are hugely dangerous.

Obviously.

Can’t see ahead.

Can’t see behind.

Can’t see the flying garage door coming right at your head…


The ‘high wind advisory’ for Dutch late Friday into Saturday got cancelled but it was quickly replaced with one of those friendly ‘winter storm advisory’ messages. My interpretation of such is that if the big wind has snow in it then it needs an upgrade. It is my firm belief that once big winds contain both snow and loose fixtures and fittings it requires re-advising.

Shall we call it a ‘bunker down advisory’?


At least the Tahoe Turtle takes good advice on board and is burying itself from airborne attack at the far end of the driveway. After all, the Tahoe witnessed the wonders of your ‘Dutch engineering’ work and is already aware that you are one shovel’s width from disaster. What happens when the shovel gives way? What will be immediately to hand to shove in the gap next time?

Graham Crackers?

American cheese slices?

Paper napkins?

If the local critters are suffering in the bad weather they need only find a route up the forklift prongs and they’d have themselves a veritable picnic site. The warehouse revolving restaurant could become a serious competitor to the business going down at the chow porch.

Only without that bloody intrusive photographer getting in your furry face all the time…


I wonder how the 3 tug winter tow plan is going for the Kulluk? You’d assume that being able to see the thing you are towing would be helpful. You’d assume being able to see any surrounding tug boats would be helpful. But then two of the three tugs actually managed to collide with each other in calm and sheltered waters a couple of weeks ago.

Who said Shell are jinxed?

At least they have officially announced there will be NO ARCTIC DRILLING during the 2013 season.

SURPRISE!!!!!!!!

The only ‘drill equipment’ they could possibly put into operation this summer would amount to a catering size packet of drinking straws, and they are the bendy neck type that haven’t been thoroughly tested in deep water. They do however cope remarkably well with small chunks of ice in close vicinity. All that’s needed is to avoid the clogging effect of sliced lemons.

Not that they will be able to purchase fresh lemons that far north this summer.

The local critters will be making a killing selling fresh lemonade squeezed by Joes own makeshift garage door arrangement…
Member Since: February 28, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 1634
4. cybersuze
3:36 PM GMT on March 02, 2013
I think that wind and snow is headed our way! But its going to be nice today (near 55)!
Member Since: April 2, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 299
3. dix608greys
3:26 PM GMT on March 02, 2013
I was in a whiteout once in my life and I have never been so afraid. I was on the interstate in upstate NY north of Syracuse. Normally I'm pretty much a fearless driver but when it hit all I could see was white- no horizon, no road, nothing off to the sides. It was as if someone dropped a white sheet over my car. There were lots of tractor trailers on that road and at one point when the wind shifted I saw one on it's side in a ditch. I knew I couldn't stop because, as Joe said, you don't want to be rear ended and going forward I had no idea where the road actually was. It lasted about 30 minutes with only about 3 or 4 breaks to help me get my bearings. I swore afterwards that I would never drive in something like that again. Once I got to my destination, it snowed and blew all night and the next day we woke up to 2 feet of snow with 5 foot drifts.

Maybe this is why I live in FL now. If I had been a cat I would have had only 8 lives left.
Member Since: July 16, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 308
2. DHaupt
9:43 AM GMT on March 02, 2013
I love our boring Bay Area weather...I love our boring Bay Area weather...I love our boring Bay Area weather...I love our boring Bay Area weather...I love our boring Bay Area weather....

Actually today anyone would love our boring Bay Area weather because it was boringly nice. We hit 72F around 4:00. I was able to sit out on the front deck for much of the afternoon wearing a light long-sleeved shirt, reading, smoking my pipe with some of that new Peterson tobacco, even got ambitious and sharpened the blade on my Florian pole pruner for the first time ever so that Muriel could prune a shrub that has gotten seriously too tall.

I think for wild weather, there are few places outside Dutch Harbor, Mt. Washington comes to mind, that have such atrocious and unpredictable weather. Maybe you should start driving a forklift to and from work or attach it to the backend of the Tahoe for added mass and traction.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 1172
1. osdianna
8:12 AM GMT on March 02, 2013
I'm such a wuss; I couldn't handle any of that! You get my vote for the tough jobs. Hopefully you can see light at the end of the tunnel in a warmer climate with less drama, and hopefully you won't be bored out of your gourd! I used to be an adrenaline junky; it took me two months to wind down, with a little bit of help from Jose Cuervo Gold...the good old days.

Be safe kiddo....
Member Since: March 5, 2009 Posts: 35 Comments: 652

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About joealaska

After moving back to the lower 48, I have bought an RV and have been living on the road.

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