For those who lived in Duluth ten years ago, we all remember what the Halloween storm in 1991 was like. This was an event which had never happened before (and likely never will again), and it brings back some fond memories (for the most part) for me even today.
Try to imagine a 37-inch snowfall in one storm. Drifts were much higher due to the fierce winds which whipped the barrage into massive drifts. For three days, virtually nothing moved in Duluth. Certainly not normal modes of transportation, such as cars, trucks and busses.
It all started innocently enough on Thursday (Halloween) morning. First there was the Winter Weather Advisory, with a few inches of snowfall predicted. As the day went on, the predicted snowfall kept increasing; 4-6 inches, 6-10 inches, 10-16 inches and so on.
Most of us like "snow days", and we got exactly that on Friday. A few hardy (or foolish) souls ventured down to the Government Services Building to work that day. Me? Yeah, sure....I was going to wade through two foot drifts, or spend two hours shoveling out my Mazda GLC without knowing if I'd be stranded there at the end of the day.
Yep, snow days are appreciated but this was, uh, a "bit" of overkill. My first venture outside on Friday night was an adventure. Walking backwards up the street (to try and escape the northwest wind whipping down the hill) to the local Spur to stock up on provisions which I had stupidly neglected to purchase two nights prior, wondering how long it would take to uncover my car on Saturday.
Turns out, the car never got uncovered. Least not that weekend or that week. Two hours outside on Saturday night with a coal shovel (those are fun and nearly useless, with that small yet heavy metal blade which sticks to the snow more than anything) was nothing more than a futile attempt. What the hell was I thinking? 7th Avenue East was a scene out of an Alaskan documentary; unless I was willing to shovel 300 feet of street down to the intersection, I was wasting my time. Some serious angst ensued; my girlfriend was likewise stranded two miles to the west, and she was in the same stranded situation I was in.
Here's the kicker; later that night, my stomach started hurting. Thinking it was nothing more than the ulcer which visited me from time to time, I just ate something, hammered down some Mylanta and waited for that wonderful burning to pass. It didn't pass. Throughout the night, it got worse...and worse...and worse.
Hey, this was a bit scary. At luck would have it, I lived only three blocks from a hospital, but I put off the decision to trod through the snow for several hours. Must have been some male testosterone thing; "it'll pass, I can tough this out". Yet it didn't pass and by nine the next morning I was walking hunched over to St. Luke's Hospital.
It wasn't an ulcer. My appendix decided it was time to infect, and it had to come out. How bad did I hate my job at the time? When the doctor told me I had to stay home for one month, I would have danced a jig, except for the tube in my arm and the med cart (self-adminstered morphine is a blessing and a curse for any recovering chemically dependent alcoholic!) I was leaning on.
Heading down to the glass room at the end of the hallway each morning, watching the single-lane traffic winding its slow painful way down 1st Street; when I look back on that week, this is one of the images I'll always remember vividly.
By the way, when I was released from the hospital five days later, my car was still buried nearly up to its hood in snow. But, hey, flash some cash in front of the neighbors' eyes, and the problem is solved.
Now all I'd like to see is another snow event like that one. But save the hospital trip, please.
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