Saturday, January 28, 2017

An Idaho Snow Disaster, And A Beautiful Avalanche In Patagonia

Cracked back wall of an Idaho
supermarket after the roof collapsed
under heavy snow earlier this month.
While we here in Vermont struggle with frequent bouts of mixed precipitation and lackluster snow cover, the ski areas in the Rockies have been rejoicing in, in some cases record breaking amounts of snow.

There's feet and FEET of it on the ground in many spots out there.  

There can certainly be drawbacks to this, and that's the case in northern Idaho, where unprecedented amounts of snow has collapsed many buildings, leading to fear and paralysis among the snow drifts up there.

The city of Weiser in western Idaho is especially hard hit. Much of Idaho doesn't usually get all that much snow, and Weiser's climate is fairly mild. Usually.

But the city of more than 5,000 people is buried under four feet of snow. Many building roofs have collapsed,  including that of Weiser's only supermarket,

That's a problem, since the nearest other supermarket is 15 miles away, and it's hard for some people to travel that far, especially with all that snow in the way.  The Idaho Foodbank set up an "emergency store" in Weiser to help the city get past the crisis, says television station WBOI.

Shane McInroy, the manager of Ridley's Family Market, was on the roof with 11 other people when it began to collapse.

They were up there to shovel away the heavy snow load, but it was too late. The roof collapsed. Witnesses rushed over with ladders to rescue the pople who had been on the roof, says the Idaho Statesman newspaper.

The snow collapses have unfortunately killed at least one person in the hardest hit region of Idaho. According to television station KLEW, a woman either stepped out onto her porch or was trying to get into the house from the porch when the roof collapsed.

Family members found her body trapped beneath the snow and wreckage of the porch roof.

Other collapses in Idaho involved a mill and a church.

The Washington Post says about 100 buildings have collapsed under the weight of the snow in or near Weisner.

The area is a big onion growing region, and many onion sheds have collapsed under the snow, destroying produce and stock.

The snow siege in Idaho recalls the epic snow years  here in New England that have led to multiple building collapses.

Numerous roofs collapsed in eastern and southern New England during the winter of 2015 when record snowfalls buried the region.

Here in Vermont, the last time we had a winter severe enough to collapse roofs was in 2011, when one of the snowiest winters on record - which included snowstorms that featured wet and heavy snows instead of the usual powdery variety, led to numerous roof, barn and porch collapses.

So far, no problems like these in Vermont last year. Though I did pick up a semi-surprise three inches of snow last night at my house in St. Albans.

Meanwhile, I came across a video from August of a large avalanche in Patagonia, seen on a sunny blue sky day in the region.

Avalanches are of course extremely dangerous, but the video captures the powerful beauty of these things.


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