Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fools

Yes, snow on April Fools Day. But not that much in the Metro. (On Sunday, the Trail Slaves were talking about grooming Woodland and then the storm shifted 150 miles and we got skunked. Again.) Up north, well, 5-10 across the Range, 10-15 along the North Shore (where a lot of places closed after the ice storm) and a foot in the Northwest part of the state. Fargo has had 28 inches of snow in March, breaking a record. Luckily the cold weather kept it from sending the river up a couple more feet, but now they get to wait and see again, although it looks like a slow melt in the next week or two. Will I be skiing at Maplelag or The Ridge or the North Shore again this weekend? Maybe.

That said, it's April Fools Day! Twelve years ago, when I was an awkward tyke in seventh grade, Eastern Massachusetts was greeted with two and a half feet of snow. The Wikipedia article doesn't do the storm justice, so here's the recap. March 30, a Sunday, was a beautiful day, with temperatures in the mid-60s. My dad and I went on a bike ride in shorts and a t-shirt. The Friday before, the weathermen had been talking about the possibility of a snowstorm on April Fools, but no one believed them. Saturday, they were saying rain on Monday changing to snow on Monday night in to Tuesday, with as much as half a foot. No one believed them.

By Sunday evening, the forecast for the next morning was for rain and temperatures around 50, falling throughout the day, with snow mixing in in the evening and six to twelve inches by Tuesday morning. April Fools. With the sun shining and temperatures well above normal, it was widely believed to be a hoax. It wasn't.

Monday morning, March 31, dawned cloudy, cool, and rainy. It was in the low 40s with a steady, cool rain. Typical April weather. The forecasts called for the rain to change to snow between 4 and 6 p.m., and accumulate 10-14 inches. Were the weathermen to be believed? Well, at least there was something falling from the sky.

I was excited because, whilst I was not a competitive skier at the time, I did like snow. Sitting in math class at 10:30 in the morning, I was bored, and turned to look out the window. It kind of looked like snow. "No," I said to myself, "it's not supposed to change over for hours." Five minutes later I looked out again. I could barely see across the school's courtyard, a distance of maybe 50 feet. It was definitely a blizzard.

School wasn't called early, but all after school activities were. It was snowing hard, sticking on the roads, and they wanted everyone home. We walked out to the buses through snow, with what seemed like an inch sticking to my head as I walked 200 yards. Our bus drive, Sam, usually took a nap with the bus's door open while he waited for us to board, in fact, we often had to wake him up when it was time to go. (Sam was what we call, in Boston, a "character." When he dropped us off he'd usually tell us to "go home and do your homework." Why? "So you don't wind up a bus drivah like me.") Today, however, Sam was not only awake, but opening the door for every kid who got on the bus, so that the stiff northeast wind didn't fill the bus with snow.

With everything canceled, everyone took the bus home. Imagine a Birkie bus with seven people seated across every row, packing the aisles with bodies and bookbags (but no skis). Skis might have been faster. Half an hour later we got to the bus stop, two miles away, and exited, tromping to a friend's house in the snow. An hour later my mother called. She was coming to get me. She didn't know if she'd be able to get through later on.

School was canceled the next day at 9:00 p.m. that evening, which made for joyous celebrations. It was a forgone conclusion at that point. We had a foot of snow and it was an all-out blizzard. We made a nice snowman in the back yard (it was definitely snowman snow; it didn't drop below 29 the entire storm), tried to get a handle on shoveling, and all went to sleep, the wind howling outside. Visibility at bedtime was reported at 0.2 miles. Winds were sustained at 35 mph, gusting to 55.

When we woke up, everything was very white. The streets were not really passable, but we were able to trudge over to go sledding (the Ski Track had shut down for the season), which was fun. The snowman in the back yard was a pinnacle of snow. That evening, school was canceled the next day, too. Hooray! We went to pick up a friend that day, 24 hours after the snow had ended and found that his house, on a side street, was accessible only by a footpath down the middle of the street. No wonder school was out. We went sledding at "Kill Hill" which was well-padded with all the snow and a blast as always.

By Thursday, school was opened, but with a two hour delay. Friday as well. A two hour delay, highs of 55 three days after the snow had ended. With the April sun and temperatures in the 50s, the snow was mostly melted by the end of the weekend. I was biking to school, dodging snow banks, on Monday. That afternoon, the high was 75. And in the shade, you could have probably gone skiing.

The City of Boston had a wait-and-see approach with side streets, where there was pretty much too much snow to plow. Days after the storm, they were melting but still impassable. If it had been three months earlier, it would have been more problematic, but because of the season, it melted pretty quickly.

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