Here in western Washington State we decided to hold winter in two weeks instead of spreading it out over a few months. Of course winter might not be over yet.

A week with no electricity. Days with no water. Falling snow that went on and on and on. Highway closed because of so many trees coming down.

Here are the things that made these days safe and not so bad.

A wood stove and a full wood shed. Even though I hated stacking firewood on hot summer days, this is the reason for all that labor. Though honestly, my husband worked harder splitting all the wood. This coming summer we should have plenty of wood to cut because of all the trees that came down.


When company comes, we put them to work.

A generator and full gas cans, thanks again to the husband who fills the cans before winter and makes sure the generator runs. All our gas cans wouldn’t have lasted so many days though, and so we should probably get a few more for next winter. What helped this time was my husband and a neighbor who braved the closed highway, collecting gas cans for others in our tiny community and keeping us all with running generators.


The Blue Scoop. The husband (again, hero of the times) works at the mountain pass and there they use something called a blue scoop. It’s like a weird snow shovel that is big, and you push it like a lawn mower. It moves lots of snow fast and easily, without the backbreaking work of bending as with a traditional snow shovel. As you pile the snow you remove, it can be pushed right up the slope of the pile, and then with a single push forward, the snow slides off the scoop. You can find them on Amazon. They aren’t cheap, but are well worth the money if you live somewhere with lots of snow. With the scoop we were able to keep paths clear to the woodshed, the gates, the generator, and most importantly, the hot tub.


Four years ago when the snow wasn’t as deep, but still…priorities.


A full pantry and a full freezer. The full freezer would have been a liability without the generator to keep it running. But we were never at the point of having to worry about groceries.

A kid. Our son moved back home about a month ago. Didn’t he time that perfectly? So having a young man to use that blue scoop was pretty nice.

Ice caves

Community. There were rough moments with a few people in our little community but I believe it was their fear and worry coming out, and not something that will last. Those moments were mainly due to the lack of water when the water system’s tank ran dry and everyone expected my husband to fix it. Which he did. But there was a wider community of people who donated supplies and delivered them to the mountain neighborhoods. Granted, the supplies came after the highway was open and we were past the worst, but what’s important is that people cared.


Water. I keep gallon jugs of water in the freezer. When power goes out, they can go in the fridge to help keep things cold, or to help keep the freezer cold. When thawed, they provide potable water. This time we knew ahead, so we had full 5-gallon water jugs and a full bathtub. And of course, lots of snow to melt on the wood stove. Though a canner full of snow melts down to a scant inch or so of water so it’s a long process. It works better if you can melt icicles.


Propane. Having the stove be propane rather than electricity allowed us to cook and bake just like it was any other day in the household. Granted, our propane level is now low and the delivery truck feels they still can’t make it up to us. But if it goes out, we have the wood stove.

And today the sun is out. Shortly I will head outside to use the blue scoop now that all the snow is softening some, to do some more clearing. We made it through the week fine, thanks to preparing and planning.

If you were to lose your power and water, could you manage?

winter 08-09 001

Eleven years ago at the old cabin.

13 thoughts on “Snow

  1. I often envy you having all that incredible scenery surrounding you up in the mountains. Sometimes, I imagine myself snowed in, the house heated by a wood stove, cup of cocoa in my hands and a good book in my lap … and then I remember, power, water, wood chopping, snow shoveling, and realize that no, I probably couldn’t manage very well!!


  2. Glad you came through the closure well Lisa. You can probably never be too prepared living where you do. Such a beautiful area, but after a storm like this one, not the easiest place to live.


  3. THANKS for this one – LOVED the pix of your “beast” covered on your couch!! Knew you were OK from all the systems we knew you had in place. Beautiful. Pat Larson PHONE: 425-298-9431 (please leave a voice message)

    On Mon, Jan 20, 2020 at 12:51 PM Lisa Stowe – The Story River Blog wrote:

    > Lisa posted: “Here in western Washington State we decided to hold winter > in two weeks instead of spreading it out over a few months. Of course > winter might not be over yet. A week with no electricity. Days with no > water. Falling snow that went on and on and on. Highwa” >


  4. Oh man, Art is just the man to have around for this scenario!!! Extremely nice of him to go around collecting gas cans to go and get some for everybody!! I hope they all paid you!! And then they also rely on him to fix the thing that was supposed to safe you from having no water… damn, you are all lucky to have him up there and geez what bad luck it broke down when you needed it most.
    But thanks to your organized preparation and experience you guys were probably totally fine for that week. I know I felt totally safe with you, even though it was just no power and we left before the worst part happened.
    Here at home I would be totally screwed if the earthquake hits, or with no power for a week. In the super old apartment building I live there is no generator as backup. My stove/oven is electric and with no power I am sure the main water boiler would freeze in a winter like that. My fridge would warm up fast and I only have this tiny little freezer compartment which doesnt even fit a gallon jug, unless I take the divider out and store nothing else in it 🙂
    But I do have tons of blankets, several flash lights, lots of batteries, lots of candles, some water and a crank radio for the ultimate emergency.
    At least my building is old enough to use keys instead of fobs. Would one be able to get through the main door in those newer high rises if there is no electricity I wonder?
    We rely way to much on our modern conveniences!
    I am glad I can talk to you again though 😉 ❤


  5. I thought of you guys out there! But I also knew you would be prepared. This was the first year we had no wood burning stove, we have propane. And we do have a generator and a husband who loves to tackle the snow! I do not work right now, so I was just enjoying the scenery for photo ops and painting…and readung your latest book! 😄💟


  6. I have no worries for you Lisa given everything I’ve read about your life and your family. I think there are certain kinds of people who, like us, enjoy living on the outskirts of civilization and dealing with things like this is just part of it. Where I am, we rarely have any kind of snow falls that lead to closures but we get ice storms. In fact it’s icing right now but will change over to rain soon.

    We had a really big ice storm in January 2009, 2 inches of ice followed by 5 inches of snow and we did just fine without electric for the 5 or so days we were out. We have a generator, propane heater, deep freeze, fireplace and a well. My husband grew up on a farm, so he knows how to fix just about anything and be prepared for the worst. What I remember most about that storm was the haunting sound of branches snapping for days under the weight of the ice and snow. It decimated the forested areas for the entire Ohio Valley.

    I’ve got a tip for your readers if they don’t have a big freezer like us to keep the milk jugs: freeze plastic soda bottles (16 & 20oz) to lay on top of your meats in the fridge. This works great and doesn’t take much room.


    • I imagine those smaller bottles thaw a lot faster, too. I might have to change from the gallon jugs! We had a rare ice storm in 1996 when I was very pregnant and on the local fire department. I remember we had to chain saw our way out to the highway and then chainsaw our way back because so many trees were coming down.

      Liked by 1 person

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