The Blizzard of ’22

The Blizzard of ’22

Late on Friday evening, 28 January 2022, it began to snow, and it snowed for about 22 hours straight. By the time I walked the dog around 7:00 a.m. on Saturday, there were a few inches in some spots, but a lot was bare, owing to the winds. The bulk of the snow came during the next 12 hours. We live between Burlington, which reported 22″ as of 7:30 p.m. Saturday, and Cambridge which reported 14″ as of 4:30. But certainly a fairly significant amount of snow fell after 4:30. As with many such events, it is hard to measure snowfall due to the wind. We had patches that were bare, and drifts probably up to 3′. And even though it was quite cold, and the snow was dry, the wind really packed it pretty densely in some areas, so it was heavy and rather hard to move.

The night before, I attempted to start our snow blower. I hadn’t used it this season, and I don’t remember using it last season, though it’s certainly possible that I did. I didn’t run it dry, but instead put in the requisite fuel preservative. I know they say that ethanol free gas is better for such things, but I don’t see it for sale around here. Mind you, I haven’t done extensive research, but if it’s out there, it’s not obvious. Anyway, the snow blower wouldn’t start. Small engines and I are not on the best of terms, so I asked my neighbor to take a look. He had rescued my old one a couple of times before, and seems quite competent around such things. We tried a number of things, including siphoning out the gas and replacing it with new. But we had no luck. His feeling was that it was probably a carburetor issue, and getting to the carburetor was not obvious.

Another good friend came by later in the evening. He is an engineer who grew up on a farm, and all this stuff is second nature to him. But even he could not get the thing to start. His diagnosis was the same — carburetor, and likely the problem was getting the fuel/air mixture out of the carburetor and into the cylinder. Fuel seemed to be moving in OK. So it was to be a manually cleared storm, which I wasn’t particularly looking forward to, with the forecast calling for 18-24″. It snowed pretty hard all day Saturday, but I made one pass at clearing the sidewalks before dinner. For the rest of it, we waited until the snow was over, which meant waiting until about 9:30. Susan and I, with some early help from Emma, then worked until about 11:30 to clear the snow. Here are some photos from before and after shoveling, and the following day.

In the end, it might have been just as well that the snow blower wasn’t working. It would have been fine on the sidewalks, but it has struggled in the past with really dense snow. And that would have been frustrating. Doing it manually isn’t exactly fun, but at least I know pretty well what to expect.

A replacement carburetor is on order, along with some specialized tools for cleaning the old one. That way if the cleaning goes well, we’ll have a spare at the ready for the next time things get clogged up. Never too old to learn new things, right? There were a couple of very helpful videos documenting how to get to the carburetor and how to clean it. Hopefully we will be ready for the next one.

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