Monday, October 16, 2006

Buffalo's Hundred-Year October Snowstorm

Little notice was paid when last week's "Amherst Bee" community paper described under "Out of the Past---100 Years Ago" a surprise October 1906 snowstorm that felled many trees. It included a horror story of a team of horses getting enmeshed in downed power lines and slowly being electrocuted. Luckily the deaths are the only thing that did not repeat, a hundred years to the week!

The storm was forecast variously to be rain, a dusting of snow, or a couple inches. It did not look threatening when noontime's light sleet turned to gloppy puffs of white about 2:30pm---I even sent an e-mail delightedly titled "SNOW!" to my wife at Nichols School. But then lightning bolts and thunderclaps and scudding dark and white clouds inverted the mood. After the CSE Dept. Colloquium ended at 5pm I found 5 inches of snow on my car, and the 4-mile drive home took 50 minutes as traffic snaked thru outed stoplights and some already-fallen tree limbs. We enjoyed an illusion of normalcy thru dinner and homework and instrument practice and watching "Survivor" at home, but at 8:50pm just before Tribal Council, the power went. Having the TV off made us suddenly aware of the quickening pace of firecracker pops of falling limbs. Then another thundercell came over and we realized how serious this was. Debbie was tearfully kept awake all night by cracks of trunks split apart by the cantilevered force of heavy snow on not-yet-fallen leaves. Some pictures from the night and morning:

Thursday 10/12, 11pm---opposite streetcorner

Friday, 7:30am, fallen limbs to right of our garage missed wires and basketball hoop!

Does Hendricks Blvd. even look like a street anymore?

Hendricks Blvd. at midday Friday, with Debbie

Topalov's 2-way GPS-implanted little helper wonders why there are no moves to send.

Our neighbors drove to Rochester to pick up a generators from their parents, and we alternately passed its cord around a few houses so no one's basement filled too much. We were lucky to get our power back midday Sunday, being on the edge of the worst-affected area (indeed, the lead photo of Friday's Buffalo News was the scene just 7 houses up from us on Maynard Drive!)---some on the inside may not be up until the end of the week. We have some kids from the inside over right now. There is no comparison to any hurricane scene, little damage to houses themselves---and the Buffalo area will be back to normal by next week.