Great Northeast October Snowstorm

Our yard accumulated about 14 inches of heavy wet snow that made a mess of the maple trees. Before I could get the snowblower out of the garage, I had to cut up a stack of branches:

Branches at garage
Branches at garage

Yes, there really is that much of a slope leading up to the garage; clearing the driveway immediately after every snowstorm is not optional.

Many of the branches in the back yard broke off and simply leaned against the ones still arched over the driveway:

Branches in back yard
Branches in back yard

The front yard was a mess:

Branches in front yard
Branches in front yard

In addition to all that, we had branches down beside the house, in the garden, around the beehive, and, in general, everywhere. Obviously, we have too many maples, but they’re what the previous owners planted (or at least didn’t uproot while that was possible).

The generator bridged 25 hours without power to save the refrigerator & freezer contents and keep the house between 55-60 °F. We survived five days with no phone (shrug) or Internet (eeek!); the cell phone was, as usual, useless because the house sits on a local maximum in a shallow valley below line-of-sight from all the surrounding towers.

The last break in the phone & Internet cables occurred just north of us:

Branches on wires
Branches on wires

Those branches came from a tree across the road that put down roots on a slab of rock that just didn’t provide enough griptivity:

Tree down on Rt 376
Tree down on Rt 376

After three days of diligent bow-saw work and mule-mode dragging, we cleared the yards. The back yard clutter went over the cliff toward our bottomlands adjoining the Wappingers Creek and the front yard timber now sits ready for what we hope will be the town’s pickup:

Branches ready for pickup
Branches ready for pickup

Our experience was a nuisance, rather than a disaster, unlike that of many folks in the area.

Now it’s time for the annual fall leaf-shredding adventure

[Update: Turns out the NYS DOT drew the short straw:

NYS DOT crew grinding branches
NYS DOT crew grinding branches

Took them the better part of 15 minutes; the larger branches nearly stalled that giant chipper. A tip o’ the hard hat!]

18 thoughts on “Great Northeast October Snowstorm

  1. Hi Ed,

    I’ve reached the last straw losing power here in NJ and have put off getting a generator long enough. Based on your last experience, do you have any thoughts on the matter?


    1. We have a ancient 1.5 kW Honda gasoline generator that works well enough. Like most other folks, I haven’t installed a transfer switch and depend on a well-practiced kludge to get power to the few loads that need saving in a storm. The generator runs out in the driveway, well away from the door, so the exhaust goes that-a-way.

      I think if I were doing it from scratch, I’d install a transfer switch along with a somewhat larger generator and be done with it. Although propane eliminates a bit of hassle, refueling it in the middle of a major outage poses a problem: you can’t stockpile enough propane before a storm for more than a day or so and you have very few refueling stations to choose from.

      Despite that, a friend has a hulking propane generator with a huge bulk tank and swears by it, not at it.

      1. What’s wrong with good old diesel? Runs quiter, at lower RPMs than gasoline, easily available and easy to store. Diesels sip fuel, as opposed to gasolines that guzzle it. In a pinch you could even feed it frying grease or olive oil….. I know someone who runs his Mercedes diesel partly on old hydraulic fluid….

        Please tell me that your kludge is not what is otherwise known as a ‘widowmaker’, an extension cord with a male prong on each side….

        And yeah. I’ve got one of those too. I figure a widowmaker is safe for me because I’m not married.

        1. What’s wrong with good old diesel?

          Other than the fact that diesel generators seem to be intended for fixed installations, nothing at all. The gas generator has accompanied us through moves to three states so far…

          a ‘widowmaker’

          Well, it’s a little more complicated than that, but you’ve nailed the overall concept… [grin]

  2. That does look like quite an early winter adventure. We had only about 3-4 inches accumulate with a few dead limbs falling around my place. Our big limbs were sheared in last years few big snows. You must feel in a little better shape after the early season saw work.

    As to your generator keeping the house at just under 60. That’s where I keep mine all winter. Last year when we were out electricity for three days my furnace took the opportunity to go out. So, I was sitting about 38-40. I moved into my basement room where there is a free standing gas fireplace and just stayed there. As you can tell my food was – OK.

    I too have a sloping drive (long) which has me parking on the upper section when snows come. I’ve not moved up to cush (a blower – smile) yet and have gotten so I’m lazy and with bad back do not like to shovel so much. We’re fortunate our snow is usually very powdery so not hard to shovel.

    You have a very attractive open yard and neighborhood. In the Pitts it is up, down or down, up. And like you – lots of trees.

    It’s pretty cool you have bees. I grew up with my Dad’s hobby bees in our back yard. 10′ from our back bathroom door. One foolish event when I was little I was being mean having a good time teasing the bees and they finally had enough of me and swarmed at me. I started making lots of kid noises – squawking and yelling and got stung inside my lip. I had a real miserable time with that big drooper….

    Say with the maples – Are they the right type to collect sap? I understand you only need to cook down 10 gallons to get one but, it would be fun. Once.

    I’m buried in a community of Pittsburgh called Upper St. Clair. Close to the city – 12 miles – but, enough space and trees to keep roaming deer, jays, cardinals, hawks, raccoon, ground hog, fox (stinky) and the flock of about 10 turkey roosting.

    I read your bird blog. Yeah birds. Daredevils! I’ve watched them. For some it is their own dumb fault. They challenge each other and play – chicken – or how close can I get. I’ve watched them against housing and with cars. It’s why we have quite a few birds dead in the road. And then sometimes you get the really unfortunate thoughtless birds that just don’t realize birds can’t fly through houses. My windows are fully blocked at two points on my house but with their desires and the timing of reflections I still hear a good thump now and again. But, with trees here they mostly don’t get enough speed to do more than knock themselves loopy for a little while. They will lay for awhile then stagger out and fly away. I did see a young squirrel fall out of a tree once. He was was embarrassed, a little stunned and staggered a little bit and until he was recouped enough to go back up.

    We don’t have bees – I’m not patient with the harvest or setting up. And getting stung leaves huge welts. My Dad could just brush them off. I’m sure you’ve gotten one into your protective clothing? But, I do think it is very neat you’ve got your hive.

    Would like to meet you sometime. You’ve got some fun going on. I’ll have to organize here and invite you guys out on a road trip to the Pitts sometime.

    Brian Stott

    1. Are they the right type to collect sap?

      No, alas, they’re not sugar maples. A long time ago in a universe far away we did tap our sugar maples and boiled the sap down to syrup. We learned why you must do that in a sugar shack rather than the kitchen: a sticky film covered everything by the time we were done. As you say, it’s fun once.

      gotten one into your protective clothing?

      On rare occasions, but they’re pretty mellow and we suit up pretty tightly.

      Truth be known, we mostly “have” bees, rather than “keep” bees; they do their own thing and we check in on them every now & again. Haven’t gotten any honey off the current hive, alas, as they seem to be just barely eking out an existence.

      Upper St. Clair

      We rode by you, more or less, on a bike trip some years back: DC to Pittsburgh along the C&O Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage. Might be a while before we get back: it’s a long haul from the Hudson to the mighty Youghiogheny River!

    1. Hey, my torch-fu is up to par: I’ve melted wax on (and off) Mary’s XC skis with a torch just like that and didn’t curl the tips even a little bit! [grin]

      Went XC skiiing once, myself, and decided it was a whole lot like work…

          1. Ah, the lure of intellectual enhancers!

            Didn’t seem to do him a bit of harm, but I think he’s an exception: not many folks can go cold turkey from speed for a month.

            I’ll ruthlessly delete any Bad Examples of meth abuse. Let us treat this digression as closed. OK?

  3. Sorry to see the havoc wreaked by that snowstorm — I trust things are back to normal now.

    BTW, how did the antenna farm survive?

    1. how did the antenna farm survive?

      Amateur radio’s rule of thumb: if your antennas survived the winter, they weren’t big enough…

      Truth to tell, I don’t have any outdoor antennas. After that lightning strike just outside the garage door, I got serious old-time religion on the subject of grounding & bonding, to the extent that putting anything metallic outdoors becomes a Big Project… and I’m really good at procrastinating that stuff.

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