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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Portland, you wish. More like Edmonton. Thanks Keith!

Blink and You'll Miss It
A story of Snow (and bicycles) in Portland

As most folks know, winter means rain in the West-of-Cascades region of the Pacific Northwest (or to some of us living here, Cascadia.) Now that's to say that snow doesn't happen around here (see "The Great One Week Snow and Ice Storm of January 2004" or "Snowpocalypse 2008" for proof), but snowfall is infrequent, insubstantial, and pretty unpredictable. If we get more than two substantial snowfalls a year (and by "substantial" meaning "2 or more inches"), it's a big frikking deal.

And for me, a winter of drizzle/rain, high temps 40-50F (that's 4-10C for you metric kids), and mercury rarely dropping to or below freezing is better than snow and real cold. After all, that's the type of weather I got away from. But I still like seeing snow from time to time, so that's why it's special to me when it happens.
But it hasn't really happened yet this year. Around Thanksgiving we were promised a "real" snow, which turned into barely a dusting (which stuck around longer than it normally would, due to sub-freezing temps.) And it was also supposed to snow last Friday (12/17), but we got little more than a super-duper-light-dusting that only stuck to a few cars, and was gone in a few hours.

So it was a surprise to get some snow this past Sunday (12/19) as I was leaving work around 4pm. I would say "pleasant", but I was riding my bike home that night. Now I do have a snow/ice bike setup, a studded front tire and a cross-style rear that I put on my Surly Long Haul Trucker when the forecast calls for winter weather. If I lived in a truly winter climate like this guy I would have a bike set up exclusively for snow in winter, but right now I install/de-install the setup on the Trucker when it's needed. And since this snow was NOWHERE IN THE FORECAST, I was riding the Trucker with normal tires.

"Oh well," I thought, "the snow is actually mixed with rain and isn't sticking." Which was true at SE 30th and Hawthorne, but as I started to gain elevation going up SE Lincoln towards Mt. Tabor, around 50th I noticed that there was a small layer of slush on the road. Geez. Besides walking or busing home, there was nothing more I could do than press on and hope for the best.

Crossing 60th into Mt. Tabor Park, snow was sticking to grassy areas and I braced for the worst as the road steepens to go over the south shoulder of Tabor. Thankfully there wasn't much traffic (except for two other bicyclists!) and when I reached the summit I took a few photos of the winter scene:

The rest of the ride home was uneventful. The slush and slight snow wasn't bad, and within a couple hours it was totally gone.
Now when can I actually get a day or two of decent snow?

1 comment:

  1. You will have to come and visit Canuckistan in January and I will arrange for some snow. :)

    It really isn't as bad as you think and not nearly as bad as the nearly freezing and wet weather you get in PDX.

    I have to come there to actually feel cold... and... to warm up a little.


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