The Great N.J. Storm of 2006
My daughter Hillery, her husband, Bruce, and I arrived to help close my mother’s house in New Jersey on a Tuesday night, and by noon Wednesday, seven different people had alerted us about the Great Storm that was coming in at 5 p.m. Saturday.Friends, caretakers, relatives, neighbors and the media were all geared up for this storm, which was predicted to dump 1-2 feet of snow on the East Coast between Maine and North Carolina. We were warned to gather provisions in case the shelves of the stores were stripped.Bruce, who was flying back to Denver on Saturday afternoon, was assured that he would just miss the storm because his flight would leave a few minutes before 5. As the countdown to the storm drew close, visitors left abruptly, saying they were “running ahead of the storm,” and the media went into full hype, reporting that snow removal in New York City would cost a million dollars an inch and that everyone was to stay off the streets, snug in their homes, on Sunday.Here in Aspen, where predictions of major storms in the next five minutes are often followed by a skiff of snow, if any, and predictions of a few inches end up with a major dump, we do not take such long-range weather reports seriously. We hear that “weather” is headed our way, but we never know what turns it will take when it hits the mountains.Five small candles in an ornate candelabra and a gas-fueled stove were our only provisions against power failure, but we were there to clean things out, not to bring in camping supplies in the event of power failure.As it happened, Bruce caught the last flight out of Newark on Saturday. At exactly 5 p.m. the snow started falling slowly but steadily, and by noon on Sunday had blown and drifted to an average depth of 18 inches.When a quarter-inch had accumulated, snowplows were at work, and emergency vehicles could be seen flashing their lights, the only traffic on the usually well-traveled country road in front of the house. All hands were on deck. The media went wild, with wind-blown reporters screaming before the cameras, but as an exciting national emergency it fell short of the mark.On Sunday afternoon the sun came out, all the roads were clear, my mother’s driveway was plowed and by Monday morning it was all over. It warmed up, rained, melted and that was the end of the Great Storm.The next day, a front page headline in a local paper read, “CAUGHT BY SURPRISE!” as if everyone hadn’t been anticipating the storm for days in advance – DUH!”Well, you’re from Colorado, I guess you’re used to this.”It’s a different world back there, in more ways than one. Su Lum is a longtime local who was glad that the power didn’t go out because New Jersey cold is bitter. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.
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