By Bob Spiwak
Here it is almost the new year. More important is that we have gone beyond the solstice and the days will be getting longer, somewhere around five to 10 minutes a day, I think. Whatever the rate may be, to me it is a sign of spring even though with the solstice came the first day of winter.
Saturday (Dec. 20) provided a lollapalooza of a snowstorm. Our seven-day NOAA forecast had jumped around over the preceding week as far as precipitation and temperatures, and in the end we got about 8 inches of new snow, like frosting on the foot or so remaining from the earlier storm. There was steady and intermittent rain along with the white stuff. The temperatures have been quite mild and there is a lot of melting along with 40-degree days.
Plowing snow on an open tractor can really be a mixed experience. If the temperatures get below freezing, even going about 3 miles per hour on the rig produces wind chill factors that are decidedly uncomfortable. With today (Sunday) a very mild day, every pass under our 80- to 100-foot pine trees produces micro-monsoons as the snowmelt on the myriad branches is released in showers. Thankfully, it is far better to get soaked than clobbered by an ice chunk falling from above.
Up at Harts Pass the snow depth is now 70 inches. Needless to say, what with all the rain, the snow/water content is high, 123 percent of average. The forecast is little changed from what it has been, with snow or snow/rain predicted right up to Christmas Day when the sun is supposed to shine.
If you get to read this paper before Christmas Eve, remember there are two services being held in Mazama. At 4 p.m., Cabby Tennis will hold a non-denominational, everyone-welcome service at the Mazama Community Club. He says he has been doing this for a number of years. And an hour later, Pastor Randy Picklesimer will lead the Christmas service at the Mazama Community Church on Highway 20. Here too, everyone is invited.
We got a very comprehensive report about things going on in the aftermath of the fire and floods from Dan Sarles of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). There are almost two pages of text dealing with what is and was going on in the Methow area, but I was especially taken by the following excerpt. It is in response to people asking or maybe complaining about how long the repairs are taking: Can’t WSDOT do more?
“If only we could … the Federal Highway Administration released $750,000 in emergency relief funds the first week after the floods to get things moving. The money comes with a lot of strings … we’re allowed to restore a road but we can’t improve it.”
Sarles pointed out that the best solution to gunk that is clogging culverts in flood situations is “bridging” the ditches rather than installing culverts to keep the water off the roadway. Is this an improvement? Is it part of a restoration?