Stories for the Boys: The Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011

In 2011 (January 31-February 2) Oklahoma got more snow than I ever remember seeing in my lifetime. It was a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. We went without power for around 2 weeks during that blizzard. I was stubborn. I was sure I could wait it out and we did stay in our house on the hill for a few days- Derek, Shaina, and I. (Bart was working in another state on a job with Siemens so he wasn’t home.) We kept the propane heater on high to heat the house because that was our heat source but also, it didn’t need electricity. We weren’t able to cook so we ate what was in the house and I had stocked up before the bad weather hit so we were doing fine on food. At night we would play board or card games, read, or listen to old time radio shows by candlelight and battery-operated camp lanterns. One morning I opened the door and the snow was up to my thighs.

The snow was so deep it was level with the bottom edge of the window. I would open the window and toss out the sunflower seeds onto the snow so the birds could have food. The snow covered our bird feeder.

The bird feeder covered with snow.

There was no way we could get the cars out of the drive and down the hill. It did soon become apparent though that we needed to leave for our own safety. We called a relative (probably Bart’s dad) to come and get us and take us to my parents’ house. On the way down the hill it was so eerily quiet and every few steps you could hear tree limbs crashing down to the ground from the weight of all the ice. I worried that the trees we were walking under would crash on top of us. One did crash right behind us after we had passed and that was plenty close enough!

We stayed with my parents for the remainder of the two weeks and when the road finally was clear enough to drive on, Bart’s dad took me back to our place. It was a good thing we left when we did! On our first trip back, we could barely get to the first driveway on our dirt road. It seems like the second time we tried to go home we got down close to our driveway. Huge trees had fallen down on the road and blocked access. When we could finally get to the driveway, we found huge trees had fallen on the driveway as well. Some were laying hillside to hillside and I could stand and walk underneath them. Bart’s dad and I (probably mostly his dad) took chainsaws and cut our way back up to the house on the hill. It was quite a clean up job.

Schools and businesses were closed, airports and interstates were closed, The Tulsa World even cancelled several print editions of its newspaper in the early days of February that year citing weather and the safety of it’s employees…which brings to mind something else. I just started a postal job this week. You know the saying, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds”? Well, in 2011 even the postal carriers were having difficulty delivering mail. The U. S. Postal Service actually put out a statement that they were attempting deliveries but that delivery in some areas may not be possible. In fact, in some areas the mail wasn’t delivered for a while until conditions were safer. Temperatures were very low, the wind was blowing hard, roofs were caving in from the weight of snow and ice. We had no idea what condition our house would be in when we could finally get back to it.

When we finally got the trees cut out of the driveway and got up to the house, we found that the house was just fine. It was still warm, still had running water, no caved roof or broken out windows. It was just waiting for us to come back. (Although the birds were really hungry by the time we returned.) It was nice to know that Bart and Derek, mine and Bart’s dads, and other relatives had built us a sturdy house to live in. It was also especially nice to be back in our own home and sleeping in our own beds. We were appreciative of the generosity of family who let us stay with them but it sure was nice to get back home. I was surprised to find that Wikipedia actually has an article about this storm. Apparently the storm had a name; it was called, “The 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard”.

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