I rely heavily on the Weather Channel App. When they tell us that we’re getting a 30% chance of precipitation it means that we are getting 100% precipitation. It can be blue sky all around, but raining right on top of us in East Glacier Park, Montana. When they say a historic snowstorm is on its way, I’m not about to be caught with my pants down so to speak.
Better to be safe than sorry. I reschedule my appointment with the garden nursery in Kalispell from Friday, September 27 to Thursday, the 26th. However, I wake up feeling miserable, my throat is swollen and my body aches. I’m not looking forward to the 90 mile drive from East Glacier Park to Kalispell. I just want to crawl back under the covers and go to sleep. Finally I get myself together. Feeling like crap I start my journey across the Continental Divide on Highway 2.
It’s a bit nerve-wracking driving on the two-lane highway through the mountains with winds gusts of over 60 miles per hour. My Jeep feels like a tin can blowing in the wind. I grip the steering wheel in the 10-2 position. Cars are passing me. I don’t care. Driving 55 mph is fine with me, even though the speed limit is 70 mph. On a normal day, that would be okay, but there’s no way I’m driving that fast today. I’m can drive 55-take that Sammy Hagar!
Shortly after I pass over the Continental Divide, the winds slowly diminish, and so does my death grip on the steering wheel. What normally takes me 1.5 hours takes me over two hours. I make it to my meeting in one piece. It’s early afternoon when I start my shopping spree: Stocking up on food and supplies before the storm hits. The drive back is uneventful, thankfully. Thursday evening I make a chicken broth from a rotisserie chicken which I simmer in the crockpot. We were given a week to prepare for this historic storm and I took it. Thank God for accurate forecasting.
Throughout the day on Friday, I periodically check the weather forecast; 7 pm the snow is scheduled to start to fall and sure enough, it does. I hunker down in my dorm room and wait out the storm. Of course, after 18 months of not being sick, my body succumbs to the flu. Just great. What else can I do? I curl up under my covers, sipping homemade chicken broth which gets me through the storm and the flu.
Occasionally I look out my window to admire the snow, whirling around, so carefree and uninhibited. The mighty evergreens stand stoically against the storm as snow piles up on their branches. As the hours pass, the snow continues to accumulate higher and higher on the roof of the one-story quad dorm across from my dorm.
The night turns to morning and the day turns to night as the storm rages on. I venture out onto the porch to videotape the storm. As I turn the iPhone around, I hear an eerie sound. It sounds as though one is walking on icy crunchy snow, that’s the best way I can describe it. But there is not a soul around. I look up at the roof’s overhang and see a two-foot swath of snow hanging precariously over the edge. In a second it becomes a free fall, crashing to the ground below. The sound must have been from the snow slowly inching its way down the metal roof.
I go out a few more times on Sunday to videotape the storm. Wading through three feet of snow, making my way to the driveway to capture images unfolding before my eyes. What once was parked vehicles are now giant mounds of snow. Buildings are laden in snow. Homes reminded me of Gingerbread Houses, capped in heavy white frosting.
The last time I was in a storm of this magnitude was the blizzard of 1978 in Massachusetts. But a snowstorm in September is a little different than a snowstorm in the dead of winter. Montana is known to have snow at all times of the year. On July 11, 2016, it was snowing at Many Glacier. I remember that day because my friend from New England was visiting me and we drove up to check out Two Medicine Lake. The snow didn’t stick but it was still coming down at a clip. I thought that was bizarre. This past May East Glacier Park received six inches of heavy wet snow. Thankfully it melted within a few days. It was pretty but..
Finally, the storm breaks, Monday morning, September 30th. I wake up to the sound of tractors moving the snow. I climb out of bed and peer out of the window. The snow has stopped and all that remains is a winter wonderland. I put on my winter gear and head for the outdoors to survey the damage.