Thursday, December 29, 2016

Slipping and sliding in a winter wonderland

By Andrea Dell

"When I was your age, I waded through 20 feet of snow for 10 miles just to reach the bus stop!"

I exaggerate (a bit), but you're probably grinning after reading that first sentence, either because you've heard this from your parents or grandparents, or you've said something similar to your children or grandchildren.

Clearwater County's winters over the last several years have been comparatively mild. Maybe a few inches of snow here and there, and a couple weeks of near-zero degree weather. 

We'd hear stories of the east coast getting hammered with two or three feet of snow and raging wind gusts, and think, "Thank God it's not like that here."

Then came winter 2016.

No, it's still not as bad as the east coast.

But, it's had more snowfall than I can remember in several years. Even people dreaming of a white Christmas are saying, "Okay, I'm over it!"

The National Weather Service says this particular weather system comes along every four years or so. Seems like it's been longer than that since we've seen this much snow here in the valley.

Next week, yet another rare weather system is supposed to descend with a round of bitterly cold temperatures, where the HIGHS will "struggle to reach zero degrees." That's Fahrenheit, not Celsius.

The lows, meanwhile, could drop down to -15 or so a couple days next week, in some areas.

As of this writing, the actual forecast for Orofino says highs in the mid-teens and lows around zero degrees, give or take a couple of degrees.

Orofino often doesn't get hit quite as hard as other places by these extreme weather conditions. Surrounding areas often do.

Meanwhile, we can expect more snow until that cold snap arrives to welcome us to the new year.

Take a look at the photo with this post. It's the rear entrance to Orofino City Park. There's even more snow piled up there than is pictured, and this image was taken less than a week ago.

The roads aren't going to improve for the foreseeable future. Neither are the sidewalks, many of which are slick with ice or three inches of gooey slush.

The town is quiet, and business is slow, as people wisely stay off some very scary roads. Those who don't often find themselves stuck, or in a fender bender. If they're lucky, they get by with a white-knuckle, fish-tailing round trip.

Wherever you are as you're reading this, I hope your new year is the best one yet. And if you're huddling in the throes of a real winter, as we are here in Clearwater County, stay warm and safe. We at the Clearwater Tribune will see you next year.

Orofino City Park's rear entrance is pictured in late December, 2016. Photo by Charlie Pottenger.

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