By Bob Spiwak
Monday morning and welcome to December. Just think, in less than three weeks the days will be getting longer. That may warm the cockles of your heart, but what about the rest of the anatomy? We checked the thermometer at 8 a.m. and had 0 degrees, up from down under somewhere.
At last check on Sunday, Harts Pass had 36 inches of snow. The water content went from + 4.9 percent of average last week to 7.9 percent yesterday (Nov. 30), so there is probably no danger of flooding in the immediate future. While the wind was blowing down here on Friday and Saturday, we calculated a chill factor of –7 degrees.
Small world at Confluence Medical Center in Wenatchee. Last week three men from the valley went for various knee surgeries and/or treatments. As we get the story, the wives were a bit taken aback to find fellow valleyites in the recovery room for the same husbandly problems of Larry McWhirter, Michael Caldwell and Rick Swanson. Stay away from the Winthrop tennis courts for the next few months, guys.
Of course, the weather was the talk of the town, as well as other places all week. As the falling snow receded along with the temperature, plowed areas became ice fields with icy caps and micro glaciers on the berms. It has made for delicate walking and crunchy driving and without good tread on car tires, the possibility of a puncture.
Yearly we offer thanks and good words for the crews who plow the highways. This year is no different. The last dump brought about a foot of “Cascade concrete” (gummy, water-laden flakes) that taxed plows and dropped trees, primarily hardwoods like willow, aspen, alder and others. The lilacs here suffered immensely. The conifers held up to the onslaught, and their branches stored the ever-growing blobs of snow on their branches, creating snowa and then ice bombs to drop on unwary passers-by beneath.
Many years ago I went up to Washington Pass with the spring snow-clearing crew on assignment for the paper. (As I recall, it was the inauguration of the first woman to be employed by the highway department to work on the road crew. I’m certain she was the first in the valley to be hired.)
I rode up in a truck with supervisor Sonny Martin, asked a lot of questions and took a lot of pictures. I rode shotgun on one of the blower rigs whose augurs blew the snow many yards through the air and created some interesting pictures. The maximum speed was 4 miles per hour.
I mention this venture to counter snide remarks aimed at the Washington State Department of Transportation’s closure of the road before Thanksgiving due to slides already down and others threatening, especially in the Liberty Bell chutes. One has to see a guy on a Cat on the edge of a ledge of snow and debris to get a knee-knocking idea of just how dangerous their labors are. This holds for winter and spring. Add to the safety of the workers, the potential dangers to motorists, and we give the local department a big applause and thanks.