2002-11-22 - 5:11 p.m.
The snow is falling and we should get about 5 inches by midnight. Classic lake effect snow as my earth science teacher used to describe it. A weather system starts out in Michigan or north in canada, moves across the warm water of Lake Erie and draws the moisture as it travels 300 miles across the water. Once the system is again over land in Western New York, it hits the cold air and high elevation, causing the precipitation to freeze and dropping snow, and lots of it.
On Thanksgiving eve, 2000 a rather large system moved across the lake and dropped 4 feet of snow over the course of 24 hours. We were driving to my home from West Virginia, and they closed down the interstate about 30 miles south of Erie, Pennsylvania. She asked me if closing down the interstate was a common occurrence. I told her it was, and we would have to take the back roads home. I was driving a four wheel drive car, so there were no problems getting through the snow. You just had to take your time and be cautious of other motorists, other people not as familiar with the conditions. She was impressed about my calmness while driving through towns in North Western Pennsylvania through 3 feet of snow without a map, just my general sense of direction. Her eyes were wide as we drove through sleepy small towns with snow blanketing everything and people fighting the falling snow with shovels and strong backs even though it was falling a lot faster than one could remove it from a driveway. "It's like the front of a Christmas Card" she said as we drove past a large white, Victorian home with tall pines and Christmas lights already lit.
The drive that usually took four hours took six and a half that day. The snow slows everything down. It gives you more time to think. It takes away the rush and the hurry we all have in our day to day lives. I have lived through this season for over 20 years. Never cared too much for it until now, as an adult. Hard to believe when I was younger I would wait impatiently for the snow to arrive so I could go sledding and build snow forts and have snowball wars with my childhood friends. I was away from home long enough not to hate it any longer. I was learning to appreciate and accept my small town roots and the fact that whenever I travel and tell people where I am from they almost always say "Oh, where all the snow falls," and I have learned to appreciate the methodical and deliberate ways we behave and travel and think in a lost, dreamlike state living on the cover of a holiday greeting card as soon as the lake effect snow comes our way. Nothing has ever been so surreal yet so lucid as this.