Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Blizzard Week

This past week shut the sunshine out behind gray clouds and let in consistent blizzard-like conditions.  Thursday seemed a bit ironic, as we listened to the blizzard warnings and looked out to blue skies... all day.  Before I get into blizzard details, I'll show you some of the pictures I took on Thursday -- the day before the blizzard struck.

That day I went out to Aaron and Allan's ice fishing shanty.  It sits at the mouth of Fanny Hooe Creek in the harbor.  If you've driven by there, you've probably seen it.  From there I snowshoed along the shore.  I caught a glimpse of this seldom seen sight.

A range light on the winter shore

Carrying on, I thought you might like to see the terrain I was walking on -- especially with Brockway in the background.

Uneven harbor snow terrain and Brockway Mountain

Along my travels, I saw a few glassy ice thingies that let the sun shine through.  I don't think it magnified the sun, though.  If it did, there would have been a hole where the snow melted.  Wouldn't that be something!

A window of ice

I guess I should tell you that my goal was to hike to Porter's Island and check out the lake to the north.  I heard rumors that there was open water in the distance, and I had to see for myself.  

I'm not going to lie.  The Big Lake just doesn't have the same effect when it's covered in snow and ice like the rest of the world.  I wanted to see some sparkling blue waves.

But before I got there, I saw a work of art that the snow uncovered.  Yes!  Put a little color in the day!

Lichen uncovered by the sun and wind

You know how it's really fun to take the South Beach Trail of Hunter's Point all the way to the point, then see your first glance of Lake Superior once you're out there?  That's what I tried to do that day.  I didn't want to look up too far, so that when I saw her open waters, I would be high atop Porter's Island.

That turned out not to be much of a challenge.  I was already on this shelf of Porter's, and I still couldn't see any water.

Another plate of glassy ice

 See what that shelf is made of in the picture above?  Bumpy ice.  That's what I got to climb to get to the top of the shelf of Porter's to take the picture below.

Open water waaaaaay on the horizon

I can't say that I was disappointed at how far away the water was.  And that I didn't see any waves.  Or that I couldn't even look at it for very long because the high winds seemed to blow right through me.  No.  It was marvelous to see a little bit of Her Majesty without all her winter layers on.   It gave me hope that spring will still come.

But not yet, as the blizzard reminded us.

So, this blizzard.  It was all over the news.  The Weather Channel people even came to Houghton to check it out.  "Over a foot of snow!"  "50 mph gusts and sustained winds!"  "All schools closed for Friday!"  "Stay in your houses!"  "Do not go anywhere!"  And so on.  

I remember the last time they predicted an actual system blizzard like this.  It was maybe 4 years ago.  It had all the same predictions.  And the next day, when we all looked out of our windows, it turned out to be a bust.  "I'll believe it when I see it," is always my motto.

This year was a little different.  I looked out the window Friday morning to see about 5 inches of snow.  But it wasn't the fluffy snow like we've been getting.  The warmer temperatures turned it into cement snow.  It would have easily been a foot of fluff.

Then, get this.  The winds have been blowing hard all the way until now.  They are still blowing nearly 20 mph.  This created drifts of monster proportions.  People's doors, vehicles and driveways were buried.  And here's the biggest doozy: M-26, near Great Sand Bay, was closed for four days due to 12 foot drifts.  FOUR DAYS!  Those poor people (and yes, people live there) were probably stranded.  At least they have a good story to tell!

According to Jeff at the Gas Lite, the Farmer's Almanac says that once March hits, this snow is all going to melt from 70 degrees and sunshine.  If that happens, we'll have floods and raging waterfalls.  I'll let you know how that goes... it's almost March!


  1. Really interesting pictures!! That range light sits pretty high above the water, but now don't see the elevation because of the snow. The ice "periscope" is especially intriguing. Has to be a "special" year with all the snow. Great Sand Bay closed, either in winter because of drifting snow, or in summer from drifting sand. They need to keep a road grader permanently parked there. Great stories and pictures!! Keep 'em coming!! John

  2. Hey John! I always appreciate your comments. I hope you are staying warm!