Thursday, February 19, 2004

White Juan - Storm of the Century

February 19, 2004 is a date many Nova Scotians will remember for a long time to come.  A huge snow storm has been forcasted, and it was shaping up to be the storm of the century.

We got up as usual to get ready for work.  There was already a nice blizzard underway and a lot of snow down already.  The lawyers called all the staff and told us not to come in.  We turned on the radio and started to learn how bad it really was out there.  There was already 25-30cms of snow on the ground and very high winds.  Everything was completely shut down...even the Metro Transit buses were called off the roads and that's the first time that happened in 25 years.  Highways 102 and 103 are closed.

There was a radio announcement saying that police are warning motorists to stay off the roads and that if you got in an accident your insurance may not cover you because you are taking unnecessary risks driving in these conditions.  Simon decided to put on snowshoes and walk to work.  He was probably the only one there!  The following pics were taken around 8am, and the storm was far from over.

The Province declared a State of Emergency.  My poor niece Elysia, who was living in Ontario at the time, missed out on her second State of Emergency! lol (The first one being Hurricane Juan.)  This shot of our neighbour's minivan was taken around 12:30pm, just before I head to out to my grandmother's.

This is how our car looked at 12:30pm

At 12:30pm I put my snowshoes on, put some food in a backpack (I had made chili and biscuits) and walked up to my grandmother's house who lived a few blocks away.  It was deep snow and really hard going.  When I got there she was completely snowed in.  There was a two-foot drift blocking her back door.  I shovelled out her back steps and then went to do the front.  By the time I came back around to the back door there was 2 more inches where I had shovelled before.

This was her backyard when I arrived:

This is her back door after I shovelled it.

Now I can finally get the door open!

Nanny and I had lunch together, then about 3:00 p.m. I strapped the snowshoes back on and headed for home.  By this time the wind was really picking up and the blizzard was much worse than when I walked up there.  When I left Merson Avenue and walked onto Normandy, there were huge drifts blown in from St. Stephens School.  As I walked over the drifts (which were probably waist or chest height), a big gust of wind came and blew me down.  I couldn't get up...I tried and tried but I just kept digging myself deeper into a hole.  Every time I put my arms down to try and push myself up, they just went deeper into the snow and I became even more stuck.  I finally tried rolling around and got myself out of the hole, and was able to get my feet under me and stand up.  I saw a lady standing in her living room window watching me, so if worse came to worse and I couldn't get up she knew I was there struggling and would probably have called for help.  As I struggled to get up all I could think about was one of those big snow plows coming up the street and scooping me up not realizing I was there.  Thank God that never happened.

The rest of the walk home was brutal.  The wind was fierce.  I couldn't keep my eyes open as the snow and wind combined were blinding me something terrible.  I basically walked home with my eyes closed, peeking every once in awhile to make sure I was on the right track.  I had to walk down the middle of the streets all the way home.  I was some relieved when I finally saw my house I can tell you!  Phew!  I arrived home around 4:30pm - it took me an hour and a half to walk a few blocks, which normally takes 10 or 15 minutes.

When I got in the house I called Mom and Nanny and told them I made it back home okay.  Below are some pics I took when I got home:

By the end of this storm Halifax had received approximately 95cm of snow, and weatherstations recorded wind gusts around 147 km/hr.

Please see my next blog, February 20, 2004, for "White Juan - The Aftermath" - what it looked like the day after.

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