By Christopher McCollum
Two evenings ago, Micah Hanks and myself were spending the evening interviewing brewers, and tasting beer. The following morning, there were 6 inches of snow on the ground. While we had seen the forecast that called for several inches of snow, we figured that, like usual with mountain weather reports, it was grossly over-exaggerated. Little did we know, we would receive what would become known within hours as the worst winter storm of the decade in this part of the country, and we would receive some 11 to 17 inches of snow in Asheville, within a 20 hour period.
As the afternoon went by at my house, one tree came crashing down in the backyard, missing the house by no more than 4 or 5 feet.
This led to a frantic next couple hours, with my roommate and I doing our best to knock snow off the lower branches of trees, trying to keep them from snapping and causing potential damage to the house. These frantic efforts relieved the stress on the trees and they rose back up to the sky, with hundreds of pounds of snow dropping to the ground, down our sleeves, and down the open collars of our coats. But fortunately, our power stayed on, even though thousands around the city were already flickering out.
We stayed inside, ate ham sandwiches and drank some beer, until 11:15pm. Right after the basketball game we were watching ended, the power finally flickered once and died, for the rest of the night. After gathering all the flashlights together, lighting some well placed candles, and watching the eerie scene out the window, of a bright snowscape that breathed beauty.
At around midnight, we finally decided that since we weren’t going to be going to sleep that early, we might as well make some cocktails. So we did it in the style of Culture of Spirits, with cutting boards, oranges, limes, lemons, tequila, bourbon, and vodka.
A couple Whiskey Sours later, we decided to walk around the neighborhood and enjoy this serene sight, so peaceful in atmosphere, but breath-takingly deadly in its harsh reality. Walking through knee deep drifts is a humbling experience when you’re not used to it, and serves as a stark reminder that we live in a world that is so large, so powerful, and so indiscriminately dangerous, it can end our lives at any moment. The three poor souls so far that this storm has already taken, is testament to that.
While walking the Hoth-like streets, we came across many picturesque sights, such as this row of majestic Hemlocks looking like a landscape from classic Christmas cards.
Scenes such as there were echoed throughout my neighborhood, and the quiet was unlike anything I can remember. Even being in the middle of the wilderness, 40 miles from the nearest town, the quiet is broken by wildlife. But during this storm, the quiet was like a dream. Every crunching step through the snow almost seemed like it should have echoed, if not for the suffocating nature of the falling snow. Even talking to my companion a few feet away from me was at times difficult without raising my voice, as the elements seemed to soak up all vibrations in the air.
The only noise to break the silence was the occasional passing of a snow plow on the nearby highway, and additionally an energy supply store that was fittingly powered by a humming generator. Making our way down the highway about a quarter of a mile led us to the back entrance to the neighborhood, where 10 to 15 cars were abandoned by hapless drivers who decided that walking to their homes would be the better part of valor.
There, we ran into a couple other night walkers who were also taking photos, and they hinted to us that there was quite a spectacle right around the corner from us, going into the neighborhood. Rounding that corner revealed to us quite a surprise.
One of the neighborhood’s tall pine trees had fallen across the road, pinning three cars underneath its sprawling trunk and branches. The tree crossed the entire street, and the only way around it was to go into an adjoining yard and hike through the snow.
We eventually circled back around the block, came home, and retired for the evening. Upon rising early, we discovered that a tree nearly went through my bedroom window at one point during the night, but fortunately, missed by mere inches.
The next couple hours were spent, once more, knocking snow off the branches of trees on the property, trying to keep more collapses from occurring.
Finally, at about 2pm, power returned, and we were once more able to live a normal, modern day life.
Enjoy these following pictures, and for those in Asheville and the rest of the East Coast being hit by this storm, stay warm and stay safe! My thoughts are with you, and I hope to hear your own winter storm stories as well!