The Night Observer Shovels

2013-01-06 20:03:00.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

Saturdays Sunset

Shoveling is typically an intern/day shift duty, so working the night shifts, I don’t often get the opportunity to help out on this task. This week however, I got an opportunity to take up a shovel and help out my fellow daytime counterparts. Normally our shoveling is centered on 5 different exits/zones: the front entrance, the northeast exits, the south tower exit, the deck-level tower exit, and the top of the tower. By the time I woke up this afternoon, there were only two exits left to choose from: the deck level tower exit and the top of the tower. Since shoveling snow off the tower drops onto the deck and affects shoveling that exit, we typically will start at the top of the tower then do the deck level last. So, I volunteered to take the top of the tower.

So I took our beefy 7 inch sidewalk ice scraper/chipper and a steel shovel and headed to the top of our tower. Over the past few days, we have received several inches of snow but the top of the tower also sees rime ice accumulations from what we remove from the weather instruments every hour when we are in the fog. So, by the time I got up there, there was about 6-12 inches of accumulated snow and ice to remove. Making it slightly more difficult was the fact that we had several pairs of feet stomping it down yesterday as our overnight guests took in a spectacular sunset yesterday evening. While it would be a tough task, it would be far from the worst I have dealt with. So with tools in hand, I got down to business.

Now with the tower, there is an order that I work in to make things work out smoother. First, clear the slots below the railing, then chip and cut up all the compacted snow, shove the lose snow through the gaps, then take the ice scrapper and remove anything solid that remains. After nearly two hours of work (and several unsavory words grumbled at times on the tougher spots), I was able to get it all cleared. Now, if you live in a location where it snows and have ever shoveled something out, there is such a huge sense of accomplishment when all is said and done. Regardless of the fact that it is already starting to fill in, at the moment right after I finished, I was on top of the world. To put this into something more comparable in case you’ve never shoveled something out, the feeling is like when you bag a summit after a long hike, beat a video game boss after days of trying, or beat the top ranked team in your division, or created fire on your own. Think of the movie Castaway (2000), when the character Chuck Noland makes fire for the first time and exclaims, ‘Aha! Look what I’ve created. I have made FIRE!’ In my case, when I was done, I exclaimed, ‘Aha, look what I’ve done! I have cleared SNOW!’ Luckily though, no one was around to see me making a fool of myself as I exclaimed my accomplishment to no one…at least that I know of, it was pretty foggy…


Ryan Knapp,  Weather Observer/Meteorologist

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