Monday, March 07, 2011

Rain, snow, rain

A few weeks ago the accumulated snow of the previous month and its thick protective crust of ice melted away in a matter of days.  Temperatures shot up to above freezing, and the wind picked up.  Unfortunately the wind was the herald of another weather front moving into the area, and hours after the last of the old snow had melted away a new layer of seven inches of snow the consistency of corn starch fell.

Over the past week or so that snow has faded into memory.  Temperatures rose to the point that I was able to get out and do some Winter gardening.  But there was more weather on the way. Rain, intense and possibly sustained, would be plowing through the area over the weekend.  But reports were confusing: some called for one to two inches of rain, some called for rain changing over to sleet, and some predicted rain, hollowed by sleet, followed by snow.

Yesterday morning it began to rain, later for Nanticoke than for much of the surrounding area.  By the afternoon it started to come down in earnest, so I donned my wet-weather gear - a raincoat buttoned up to the throat and an Irish tweed cap -  and made an inspection tour of the grounds, to verify that all of the rain gutters and downspouts and ground-level guides were functioning and free of debris, and all water was being directed away from the foundation of the house.  It was.

Early in the evening the shuuusch of rain was replaced by the sizzle of sleet as the storm entered its second act.  Little pellets of ice fell from the sky and coated the ground, and the sidewalks, and the steps.  I planned to step out and lay down some of my dwindling supply of calcium chloride ice melt, but the sleet accumulation was already too thick.  So I pulled out a snow shovel and scraped off as much of the  accumulated sleet as I could.  Then I laid down the ice melt.

A few hours later the sizzle of sleet gave way to the muffled silence of falling snow.  Not entirely silent: at one point as I prepared for bed a bright flash lit up the windows, and an agonizingly long time later thunder rolled through the house.  Thundersnow, the first I had personally experienced in years.

By this morning the accumulated snow measured about four or five inches of wet, dense stuff.  Whether this was because more rain had fallen at some point, because the snow was dense to begin with, or because the increasingly intense March sun had melted and packed down the snow, I don't know.  I needed a snowblower to remove most of it, and then took the lowest layer of slush off with a shovel.  The sun took care of the rest.

More rain is expected later this week.  Heavy, intense, long-duration rain.

I prepared for basement flooding Saturday night.  Groundwater flooding is not unusual for us, though it has become a less frequent occurrence since the city convinced our uphill neighbor not to have all of his downspouts emptying directly onto our property.  (Now one of them first pours across his property for a few feet, but that has actually made a big difference.)  We didn't get any rain Saturday night, and last night only a little bit of water seeped in and retreated by morning.  But with the ground saturated from this weekend's precipitation, an additional accumulation could be a problem.

This month is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the St. Patrick's Day Flood of 1936, this region's worst flood until Agnes in 1972.  As of the end of 2009 I actually have an odd connection to the 1936 flood, about which I had previously had no knowledge.  You can read about that adventure here.


hedera said...

I remember that other post and the photos of the 1936 flood; that was all very interesting.

Linkmeister said...

Glad to know you've had better luck than we have. Our roof is showing signs of leaking. Estimates coming, but it looks like double-digit costs.

Captcha: hoping, as in I'm a-hoping I'ma wrong about the cost.