Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

The Blizzard of 2016

Yesterday, Fernley had the heaviest single snowstorm I've seen since I moved here in 2011. While it was nothing by the standards of places that get real snowstorms, it was still quite a bit of snow, particularly given that it's now spring.

Spring Snow

When I got up on Monday morning and looked out the front door, this is what I saw. Heavy, wet snow had been falling for a while and was rapidly accumulating. Oddly enough, the air temperatures were slightly above freezing, but I decided it would be a good idea to get the fire burning, so I broke out the brooms and started clearing a path to the wood box.

Spring Snow

Snow was falling fast enough that I couldn't keep the walk very clear.

Spring Snow

I used the accumulation on the front porch rail as my guide, and at its deepest it measured 15 cm.

Spring Snow

Trains were moving through, but I could hear on the radio that the dispatcher was having difficult with switches — they wouldn't lock, probably due to heavy, wet snow clogging them. At one point he asked a maintainer (the tire tracks of the maintainer's truck are what you see in the street here) to go to Patrick siding (near Sparks) to clear switches, and the maintainer said that would be difficult because I-80 was closed due to accidents.

Amtrak Westbound in the Snow

Amtrak #5, the westbound California Zephyr came through three hours late. I heard the dispatcher tell an eastbound train that had managed to get into a siding, when the switches locked back into the main, "You're doing to be there for a while. There are four westbounds heading toward you, starting with Amtrak." The dispatcher was presumably worried that if he let the eastbound train out of the siding, the switches would get jammed again. Meanwhile, you can see how much snow was piling up on the Astro.

Spring Snow

After getting the fire going, I tackled the sidewalks again, and also banged on the trees to make them drop their loads of snow rather than accumulate so much that they might break limbs. I got the walk cleared as far as the trailer, and the intensity of snow slackened off a bit as the morning progressed.

Spring Snow

Later in the morning, when I came out to get more wood, I took this photo showing how the snow had piled up. This shot incidentally shows that we really do live in a town with other buildings in it, not just just an isolated house next to the railroad tracks.

Trains in the Snow

Still later, the snow stopped for a while and paved areas started melting, leading to a slush pond forming in front of the house as this eastbound freight passed by.

Railroads in the Snow

By mid-afternoon, snow that had been 15 cm deep was already melting. On the rail line you can see the "Fernley Flyer" heading back to Sparks.

Amtrak East in the Snow

Around 5 PM, snow started falling again, and it got windy as well. It wasn't too bad on the east side of the house (where the porch from where I took most of these photos is), but once you got out of the shelter of the house, it was bitter. Amtrak #6, the eastbound Zephyr roared through at full speed as if to escape the storm as quickly as possible.

Amtrak East in the Snow

An hour later, the snow stopped falling and again started melting, as the BNSF local came to the Fernley siding to do their work.

Spring Snow Aftermath

With the storm passed and the trains gone, I took this photo looking north in the general direction of Gerlach (the Black Rock Desert is on the other side of the mountains in the distance), where you can see that snow has covered the hills down to the valley floor.

I am so glad that we did not have to go to Reno on Monday. There were accidents and road closures and chain controls everywhere. We did briefly go to the local grocery store for a few things, but otherwise we stayed home and stayed warm.

March 2016 Blizzard: Epilouge

This morning dawned sunny and clear, and this morning's westbound Zephyr, with a "heritage" unit in the consist (I wasn't quick enough on the draw to get a better shot) rolled through heading for Reno. Later in the day, we also drove to Reno, where Lisa had the stitches removed from where her wisdom tooth had been removed. As we did some errands in the late afternoon, snow started falling again, but fortunately not at the furious rate it had the previous day, and the roads were merely wet, not icy, as we went home and huddled by the fireplace.

We are well stocked up on supplies again and as far as I know do not need to go out again this week, which suits me just fine.
Tags: amtrak, fernley, house, lisa, trains, weather

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