Those that know me well might be surprised by the title of this post for they know I am not a winter-time person. I hate the cold and January is my least favorite month of the year since typically that gives us the coldest weather of the year in Memphis. But this year, January was relatively mild with multiple high temperature days during the month of over 50°F (10°C). So, when Ground Hog Day rolled around—my favorite day of the winter, since it may mean the end of winter—I had high hopes of Punxsutawney Phil not seeing his shadow and predicting spring was just around the corner.
But no less that 10 days after he burrowed back into his warm home predicting six more weeks of winter, we got hit with one of the biggest winter storms in over a decade!
It started on Thursday the 11th when we were hit with freezing rain. The day before, many people began to fear something similar to the ice storm of 1994 that devastated the city and knocked out power to over half the residents. Fortunately, there was not as much ice accumulation as predicted but it ushered in rather cold weather. Then on Saturday, it began to lightly snow and continued off and on through Sunday evening eventually dropping about an inch at our house. On the rare occasion when we actually have snow, this is what it normally looks like.
But over the weekend, forecasts began to come out with a major snow on Monday predicting first 1 to 4 inches and finally from 9 to 17 inches! I don’t think Memphis has ever seen 17 inches of snow.
When I got up Monday morning, I saw that nothing had happened which is more common following such predictions. But then about 8:00 AM it began to snow and continued to snow throughout the day. By 4:00 PM with light snow still coming down, I ventured out to see what we had gotten.
My wife, as I have written before, loves cold weather and snow and at the slightest prediction will go around the house singing “Winter Holiday” anticipating a fun romp in the snow.
But this storm was different. The temperatures throughout the day turned bitter cold with highs only in the teens and lows in the single digits with wind chills well below zero, freezing the surface not only of our pool, but the lake in our subdivision as well.
Now I knew what it would be like to live in Chicago. It was just too cold to venture out and as my granddaughter discovered, too cold to even make a snowman. But she could at least mound up enough snow to make a snowman’s head all decked out with her cute bike helmet.
By the end of Monday, our house looked more like some of the big snow pictures I had captured in the past.
Early Tuesday morning, I had to drive over to my son’s house to watch the grandkids while he drove his wife, a nurse, to work. Getting over there and back was not too difficult, much akin in some places to driving on loose sand or a lightly packed dirt road with just an occasional fishtail. I felt confident driving my all-wheel drive Subaru but when I got back home, I could not even get up the small incline from the street to our driveway. After rocking back and forth several times, I gave up.
I eventually had to do something I don’t think I have ever done in my life—shovel snow—but not with a snow shovel something I don’t even think is sold in Memphis, but a pointed digger shovel (all I had).
Having driven over it a couple of times, fortunately the compacted snow tracks came up in fairly large chunks. Clearing two tire tracks that gave it the look of a 1940’s era driveway with just two narrow concrete strips, I was eventually able to get up the driveway and into the garage.
Then on Wednesday, our third snowfall in four days, snow began around noon and continued until about 9:00 PM. At times, the snow came down so heavy it reminded me of those snowfall scenes from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. With an accumulation of the three snowfalls, my wife did get out to enjoy a Winter Holiday romp in the snow with our granddaughter.
With snow continuous throughout the day on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday, at times it reminded me of the lake effect snow I had experienced over a 24-hour period in Allegan, MI when it never stopped snowing.
That night, after having made I don’t know how many 5-mile trips back and forth between our house and our son’s house, over an inch accumulated on my car in just 2.5 hours parked outside his home. The drive home blew some of the snow off but when I parked again in our garage and saw what it looked like, I decided to rename my car my “all-wheel drive snowmobile.”
For me, other than seeing the snow fall continuously and having a bit of fun driving in the snow, my Winter Holiday pleasure mostly derived from our evenings in front of the fireplace where we temporarily moved our club chairs to better feel the warmth from the fire.
Thursday morning, a week after it all began, I ventured out to remeasure what we had accumulated over the three storms—7.5 inches!
If we got any more snow (which we didn’t), I knew I would have to find a longer ruler, maybe a yardstick like they use up north.
On average, total winter snowfall for Memphis is about 3.5 inches so in just over four days in February, we got over two years’ worth of snow.
Finally, on Saturday after nine days of sub-freezing temperatures, the high finally got above freezing and began to melt off the snow. But it was still several days before the streets were clear (Memphis doesn’t have snow moving equipment except at the airport) and the snow was finally gone. With this one certainly for the record books, I know my wife will have fond memories of this snow of 2021 as a fun Winter Holiday.
But for me, spring can’t get here soon enough which will turn this winter storm into a distant and forgettable nightmare!