Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Blanket of Snow from Winter Storm Linus

Sunday night, 16.7 inches of snow fell on the Detroit airport located just 5 minutes down the highway from me. It's the third highest recorded snowfall for this region. It doesn't sound like much to me - I grew up with Lake Effect where 3 feet of snow falling in one night is not unheard of nor particularly rare - but it is inconvenient. This is the second year in a row that our car got stuck at the foot of our friends' driveway after the Super Bowl (which I didn't watch because paint drying is more exciting to me than football, and I have zero respect for the NFL).
Thankfully, I had Sunday off and didn't have plans to drive anywhere, having been warned ahead of time the day before at work. Greg was very disappointed that his static trapeze class was canceled, but with the way the snow was coming down - and blowing! - this was a smart decision. The plows were clearly having a hard time keeping up and the city of the impending Super Bowl party had already declared a snow emergency and barred people from parking on the streets so as not to impede the plows once they eventually got there. I took a picture of our balcony every hour until we left for the party, then again when we got home (not an easy or fun drive at all) and posted them to Twitter and Facebook.
There are garden pots under there.
I was scheduled to work from 10am to 6pm all by myself the next day, and judging from the struggle it was to get into our parking lot and into a space, I did not feel confident about being able to make it in. Greg had to retrieve our snow shovel (yes, we have a snow shovel while living at an apartment complex and have used it often), plus the county where I work had declared a state of emergency and requested all non-essential drivers to stay off the roads until they could be cleared. The time they gave was noon, two hours after I was supposed to open and three (more probably four given the driving conditions) after I was planning to leave for work.
So I texted the manager of the store asking if I absolutely had to be there at 10 given that the county was warning people to stay off the roads until noon. She got a hold of the owner who agreed we could open at noon instead. Which still meant I was driving on roads I was warned to stay off, but them's the breaks. I did have to grab our snow shovel and not only unbury the driver's side door, but shovel a path to the track the complex's snow plow had created down the middle of the parking lot so I could get out. Rather than run the shovel back upstairs, I tossed it in the back of my car.
The roads were in surprisingly good shape; many thanks to the brightly shining sun that helped to melt off some of the ice. Parking, though, was a whole different story. Ordinarily, I'd just say screw it and pay the $12 to $15 to park in the parking structure all day, but I was losing $18 by opening late already, and my hours are short because so few people shop in January (I don't blame them), so I really couldn't afford the luxury of the structure. This meant digging out my own parking space on the street.
After circling the block once and making a U-turn in a parking lot, I made my claim right next to someone's driveway. Enough snow had been cleared away, possibly by the owner's of the driveway who also had to work that morning and thus cleared the end for both of us before I got there. After a few forwards and reverses, I managed to wedge my car, a blessedly short hatchback, partially into the snow bank. The back passenger side tire was completely engulfed, which meant so was the tail pipe. I decided to shovel around my car in hopes of preventing an avalanche later that might prove unhelpful in leaving and encourage the sun to melt the crap around my tires. (This ended up actually working.)
Ten feet or so behind me was a man with a snow shovel and a Jeep. He was determined to make his parking spot quite cozy for his vehicle by carving into the snow bank up to the level of his shoulders. He warned me that I was parking too far out into the street and might lose my side mirror as he did last year. This explained his obsessive digging. I was not about to attack a snow bank, and I had to work in 15 minutes, so I declined to go that far, satisfied with unburying the tires. Besides, I was flush with the rest of the street parkers (minus this guy's Jeep). To add a little protection, though, I folded in my side mirror so it was sticking out less.
Great size for a snow fort!

I really thought work that day was going to be incredibly quiet and boring, and it partly was, but I did end up with 7 sales and even more people who came in and didn't buy anything. I heard later that since the local schools - including the colleges and universities - had closed (UM really shocked me - they're getting bolder), the local cafes and coffee shops were jammed with students on laptops.
One customer just out of college whom I talked to had moved to Michigan from North Carolina on Saturday and Monday was supposed to be her first day at her new job. Since the office was closed and she was told not to come in, she decided to explore her new city instead. A winter storm is a heck of a welcome! But the sun was shining, the snow sparkling beautifully, and Ann Arbor seems to have learned from last year's plowing debacle. There were many cheerful people that day.
It snowed again last night, and driving home was white-knuckling, but things look pretty decent out there right now, so I am not worried about driving into work today. Parking, though... Maybe my spot from Monday will be open. Or better, the guy with the Jeep's.

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