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By: joealaska , 6:03 AM GMT on March 08, 2013

This story has no end. Yet.

Yesterday we had been hearing about more big weather coming. Does this sound familiar? I prefer to ignore the predictions, as we have to deal with the situation at the moment. Gotta get to that moment. Give me the parameters, I will do the best we can.

While we expected the storm to really kick in later in the day, I awoke to see a dusting of snow and it was still falling. Late afternoon it was cranking. We had no hot orders for the day, but several for the next day. I went home for a quick lunch, and it was brutal driving. We were under the impression it would get much worse. Those predictions. So I suggested we call it a day around 4 PM. At the time it was ugly.

One of my “professional” drivers got stuck with a four wheel drive van before he got out of our freight yard. I tried to help, but instead took film and pics. It was the least I could do. The very least.

When I headed out from our yard it was WHITE. When I turned onto a real road I could see nothing. The first minute of my drove was BLIND. Right away. Thinking a head on was inevitable. Thank God we have light traffic.

When I got to the TEE intersection with our main road, Airport Beach Road, it was a crapshoot. I could see nothing left or right. Maybe 10 feet. I just went for it. Surely NOBODY would be speeding through. There are no idiots in Dutch!

There were more periods of white out, then sections where visibility was good. By the time I got to the base of Haystack Hill, I was wary. I elected to park at the base in the clinic parking lot. And I walked. I climbed. I was blinded.

I trudged upward thinking I had made a wise decision, avoiding being stuck in the morning. Like last week. The snow was pretty deep already, a foot or so. In the middle of the road. I did see one car come down as I was parking, but that was the last vehicle I saw going up or down. A good thing. It was blowing so hard I was having trouble seeing the road as I walked. Several times I walked off the road and into the ditch where I was in 3 feet of snow.

The wind was right in my face, and my glasses were getting slushed. I really do not need glasses, I just wear them to look COOL.

My life is driven by fashion.

I had to remove my glasses and pocket them. Then I lost my hat to the wind. GONE. I tried to put my hands over my face and look through narrow slits between my fingers. Not good. Still BRUTAL.

When I got to my place I took a self photo to show my condition. I did not recognize myself.

I have issues with my heater, a fuel oil burner. It would shut down. But I would re-prime it and turn it on and it fired back up. This has been going on for some time. And it happened again when I got home. Primed it and turned it back on, then went into the kitchen. After a few moments...BOOM.! A small explosion. Not Oklahoma City, but an explosion. I went to the heater and there was smoke floating around. After awhile I fired it back up and the evening went on explosionless.

The wind continued for a couple hours, then it slowed down and stopped. A letdown, as we expected HELL to erupt. When I parked below the hill, it was smart. Now it seemed a bit premature. When I woke in the morning, my driveway was freshly plowed. (A week too late!)

This morning I walked down the hill in strong wind. But I was bundled and survived. The weather calmed down.

But around noon it started snowing again, and blowing. And it got worse.

We finished at a reasonable time and headed home. But that prediction of the storm dying away today turned to crap. When I headed up the hill it was again testy. But the road was plowed.


I headed up. At the top there is a sharp turn where GNU GUY lives in an apartment. It is a pinch point for the wind, and drifts are common. Blocking the road. Tonight there was HUGE drift, I had to swerve to miss it, as there was a white out. As I drove thru my neighbor / landlord for GNU
was trying to dig out a vehicle. I drove by as I was FILMING, zooming in on the landlord. But after I got to my place I looked down from my perch and saw he needed help. I put on the heavy clothes and drove back down. I tried to help, but he was sure they were about to get out. I tried to turn around, near the new huge drift. It was WHITE WORLD. I could see nothing but white. I was in the road, or out. Who knew? I made a dash for elevation.

20 minutes later I saw they got the car loose.

Last night the 60 mph winds were only 48. Tonight, we have had 70 mph, and it is early.

THE END will come later.

No foxes for a couple days. Fox are smart.

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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16. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
7:31 AM GMT on March 12, 2013
joealaska has created a new entry.
15. dix608greys
1:11 AM GMT on March 12, 2013
July 16, 2005- I KNEW it was almost forever
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
14. dotmom
12:18 AM GMT on March 12, 2013
Now that is a friendly "shut up" to UK. I am acknowledging my stupidity! I've heard that if "stupidity was painful - there would be less of it!"
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
13. dotmom
7:41 PM GMT on March 11, 2013
UK: Shut up!!! Of course I have seen that many times. It is so darn obvious that one overlooks it - at least this one does. Duh!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
12. osdianna
3:53 PM GMT on March 11, 2013
Reading Dave and Dotmom's harrowing accounts of blizzard driving...one thing you had in common was the big rig driver looking out for you. I remember quite well having more than one occasion to trust the trucker to see me through something, or just knowing they are nearby in case I get into trouble.

Growing up in California, I never really faced anything crazier than rain or hail so heavy I had to pull over until it diminished, and I have only had one minor snow-driving experience. Leaving a meeting in Aberdeen, 27 miles east, to falling snow already 2-3 inches deep on the road, I followed a big Mercedes sedan out of town and into a series of S-curves going uphill, only to see the bigger car lose traction in the rear and slide to it's left across the divider. It continued to go forward, but at a weird angle, with me in my 1995 Toyota Corolla giving it plenty of room.

Luckily, I had a trunk full of presto logs weighting me down, so all four of my wheels remained firmly anchored to the pavement.

Not that exciting...and I'm SO glad. I prefer to be on terra firma, feet connected to the ground when I watch crazy weather....a watcher rather than a participant!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
11. insideuk
3:17 PM GMT on March 11, 2013
Your member since date appears at the bottom of every one of your comments.

Joealaska is one day before Dotmoms. I think he may have started the blog on or near the same date, 2 April 2008.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
10. dix608greys
2:35 PM GMT on March 11, 2013
Dave or Dotmom, this may sound dumb but how do you find out when you first joined WU? I feel like I have been on here forever.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. dotmom
11:17 AM GMT on March 11, 2013
About Joealaska
by JayEmpty

Date Joined Mar 10, 2008
Country United States

Dave: Where I got the March 10 was at the Video site. Might be wrong.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
8. DHaupt
9:34 AM GMT on March 11, 2013
Dotmom, glad you enjoyed my tale. When I got home to Laramie, I did not kiss the ground. In the dead of winter in Laramie, you don't want to kiss anything that doesn't have a pulse or your lips and nose will freeze to it!

Laramie's climate is much closer to Anaktuvuk's than it is to Dutch Harbor's. We hit -20F several times each winter and I recall at least once when it was -40F. Snow didn't melt, it sublimed. Actually, we never got a lot of snow at one time, maybe 3-4 inches. Like Dutch, the wind often blew it away before in melted.

Right after a snowfall, the snow was so dry that you couldn't make any sort of snow ball with it. All you got was a little scrunched up thingy in the crease of your mittens.

I joined WU on 3/28/2006. That's nearly six years ago now. I think Joe was already a member then. I discovered his blog looking for information or links to anything Dutch Harbor.

So, Joe, when did you join WU and start your blog?
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
7. dotmom
5:32 PM GMT on March 10, 2013
I believe it is 5 years ago today that Joe jointed the Weather Underground. Time flies when you are having fun!!! :)
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. dotmom
11:40 AM GMT on March 10, 2013
What a tale Dave -it gives me the shivers just reading it. But you were a young buck and invincible and now you have the tale to tell. Once my daughter and I were making a trip from near Akron, Ohio back to Louisville and it started snowing around Columbus - the further south we came on 71 the heavier the snow. We, too, started following a big rig (one lane each way on a double lane highway). I was scared as my daughter was young. We made it and I think I kissed the ground after we pulled into our driveway. The snow seemed 10 feet - but was probably 10 inches. It was a blessing to be home. This was all done during daylight hours - thank God.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. insideuk
2:49 PM GMT on March 09, 2013
You remember that night when you had only just managed to get to sleep (after a really long hard non-stop month at work) when the carbon monoxide alarm rudely went off and you were forced to challenge it to a duel to the death in your shorts? If I recall correctly your weapon of choice was the broom handle, the shovel must have been busy propping up a garage door somewhere, but anyway – you fought hard with the nasty beeping sound and you won.

You dealt with the situation in the moment.

And now you tell us about how you have been bravely tackling a frequently defunct heating system through a cold winter, waiting mere moments before unflinchingly reigniting the flames to bring warmth back into the happy home. Then came a small explosion, a waft of smoke filled the air - but unperturbed, you steadfastly chose to wait it out until just the right moment and got it firing on all cylinders.

You, once again, dealt with the situation in the moment. You did the best you could.

It is reported that Kim Jong-un of North Korea has plans to attack US territory within range of his missiles next Monday.

So, dearest Joseph, my question is this…

Have you secretly been working on plans to blast Unalaska and all of its inhabitants to a safe perimeter outside of his range?

Or are you just taking the lazy flame thrower route to the daily task of de-icing the Tahoe?

Arbie – the ‘snowed in car’ photo was from Cincinnati I believe. I have had a quick peek at the weather for the Calgary area next week. I do hope that new parka you’ve bought for your trip is long enough to also cover up your open toe sandals...

Bit chilly here.

Scandinavian cold stuff arriving this weekend just in time for our Mothers Day. It was 16c/ 60f a few days ago, now it’s -5c/ 23f again.

Our daffodils need parkas.

Or an expert flame thrower. Sadly I think he's out of range.

For now anyway, I'll check again on Tuesday.

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
4. DHaupt
9:07 AM GMT on March 09, 2013
I've not experienced a white-out in many years, but in the winter of 1971, I had a simply terrifying drive across Wyoming on I80 in a ground blizzard. I was on my way back to the U of Wyoming from Fremont, CA where I had visited my parents for Christmas. I had this wonderful little machine, a BMW 2002ti, equipped with show tires and Cibie driving lights that could light up Stimsonite reflectors for over a mile. I recall how lucky I had been to sneak in and out of California without getting a ticket!

When I got to Evanston, the highway patrol had I80 blocked off; I was told that no one could get through with the suggestion that I pull off and go into the town and wait, that it might open later. Of course, I might have to spend the night there. So, I found a busy downtown cafe and had some lunch as it was around 11:30. The place was full of stranded travelers and lots of people were tuned into a local radio station which was broadcasting road conditions every 10 minutes.

I think it was around 1 PM that they announced that I80 was again open; I headed out. Sure enough, the highway patrol was letting people through. The weather was cold, rather windy, but clear. I thought "this isn't so bad", Well, about an hour later I had my first doubts. Snow was streaming across the roadway about window high and the road was pretty hard to see, but I could clearly see the snow plows markers and the occasional fellow traveler ahead or behind.

I guess I probably got to about Green River pretty much OK, but it was starting to get dark. It had taken me about 3 hours to cover that 90 miles; I had been gradually slowing down, but had plenty of confidence in my vehicle's abilities and my driving skills. By now, I had cranked the heater up all the way and was pouring all the output to the windows; I was having to use the window wipers now to keep the snow off the windshield as well.

But, I made it to Rock Springs about dinner time; my forward progress had slowed drastically. I didn't pull into the town, but charged onwards; I had laid in a good supply of chips, Hostess HoHos, Boston Baked Beans (peanuts), chocolate bars and sugary soft drinks (and they were sugary in those days, no high fructose goop in them). I would not starve. I also carried blankets in the trunk, not the best place for them actually.

I was rather surprised as I passed through Rock Springs to see barricades swung off to the sides of the road, but no highway patrol in sight. I figured it was good to go. WRONG. It is a long stretch of 110 miles from Rock Springs to Rawlins with nothing in between. By now, it was totally dark out and the blowing snow was becoming quite frightening.

Even with my well adjusted, precisely aimed head lights, the snow was simply blinding except for moments of terror when it stuck to the windshield so hard that the wipers couldn't clear it and I simply had to stop dead; the only light in the car was from the instrument panel, and I knew just how dangerous my predicament was.

This happened several (5?) times; I had to open the driver's door, hang on to the door frame with one hand while I scraped like a madman with my window scraper; thank God I had bought a long-handled truckers model, not a wimpy little plastic one like most people carried. The wind was so fierce and the density of the blowing snow was to great that one side of my head was plastered with snow by the time I could get my body back to the relative safety of the interior. I realized full well that if I lost my grip on the car and wandered or was blown only a few paces away, I might never get back.

I think that it was an act of God that saved me in the form of the only vehicle that I saw that night on the road; a dim pair of headlights were slowly overtaking me. I prayed that whoever, whatever it was wouldn't run me over. About ten minutes later, I could make out in the rear view mirror that it was a big rig traveling in the inner lane of the freeway; I did my utmost to keep in the right lane and let him by. He flashed his headlights and running lights and honked as he slowly passed me, doing only one or two miles an hour faster than I had been traveling. I immediately fell in behind him and hung on in his draft for dear life. He led me all the way into Rawlins.

As we pulled into Rawlins, the highway patrol was deployed like there had been an airliner crash or something worse. flashing red, white blue and lots of yellow flashing barricades, cones and patrol cars all over the place. An officer signaled the trucker and me to stop. Another came up to my door and asked me where I had come from. I told him that I got on in Evanston and how, somehow, I had come all this way in 11 hours.

He told me that there were rumors on the highway patrol network about some drivers who might be on the road from Evanston, because the interstate had been opened by mistake. They considered driving too dangerous to send out any patrol officers to look for them! I had worries about having to spend the night in a filling station because all the motel rooms would be taken. As it turned out, I had my choice of hundreds of empty rooms. That trucker, myself and maybe a dozen other people were the only folks who had come into Rawlins since early that morning. They especially wanted to know if I had seen any vehicles off the road, any following headlights etc. I assured them that I had not, but I couldn't really tell about cars off the road, because I simply couldn't see off the road further than the snow plow markers and even those were only visible high up.

I slept through until about noon, had a nice big brunch, listened to and told many tales of fear and adventure. Snow plows had cleared the highway and I drove the 100 miles into Laramie in about two and a half hours. The worst stretch of that highway is just before Laramie where the route goes over the flanks of Elk Mountain. I realize then that had I somehow gotten past Rawlins, I would have faced disaster. There were simply dozens of big rigs lying on their sides, buried in deep drifts with a sprinkling of passenger cars poking out here and there. A lot of those vehicles would spend the winter where they lay. Every year, several people lose their lives in Wyoming under just such conditions.

So, there is danger at every turn in life. We are fortunate in our time that cave bears and saber-toothed cats are no longer around; I doubt if we would be much into camping and picnicking if they were. But, mountain lions are getting hungrier as climate changes and humans move into and wipe out their habitat; we humans are constantly devising new dangers for ourselves.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
3. osdianna
5:09 PM GMT on March 08, 2013
Speaking from experience, it's always tougher just before you get out! It's like the fates are determined to make you pay for leaving misery behind, and this is misery! It's actually painful to read what you are dealing with up there...and explosions in an oil furnace...that can't be good.

As for forecasts, all bets are off when you live on the ocean. Radar helps...our new radar 13 miles up the coast at least gives me a fair warning of events shaping up 30 minutes out, but forecasting a day or so out...not so much. Go outside, look up, stick you finger in your mouth and hold it up...that's real time...until the wind shifts at least.

Stay safe Joe.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
2. dix608greys
3:09 PM GMT on March 08, 2013
Don't blame you, Dotmom. I'm concerned also. And what a story that was! Yikes, I could almost feel the snow blowing in my face. I experienced similar conditions when I spent that one year in upstate NY near the Canadian border. We lived at the top of a hill also plus we received the lake effect snow from Lake Ontario. One night at about 10:30, after driving 27 miles in a blizzard, my car stopped at the bottom of the driveway and I had to walk up, carrying grocery bags, through snow so hard that I too couldn't see. It was NOT the highlight of my year there.
Good luck Joe. April 1st is only a few weeks away. May they fly by snowless and windless.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. dotmom
11:19 AM GMT on March 08, 2013
I hate all this bad weather for Joe. Just don't feel he is in shape to be shoveling snow. Maybe he is by now he seems to be shoveling so blasted much. His place is perched on top of Haystack - the view is breathtaking but getting there is treacherous in this bad weather. Now I see rain and then snow and then rain. Road should be a doozy by the time it decides to quit. Is it April 1st yet? Don't think many planes must be going in and out of there daily. It's got to get better. Also think the landlord better be checking that heater for various reasons. Mothers do worry - can't help it.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:

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About joealaska

I have just taken a new job in Great Falls, Montana. A new state and new areas to explore.

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