It’s actually snowing here in the mid-atlantic, although I’m predicting another non-event similar to so many others we’ve had in the past 3 winters.  I think that when all is said and done, we’ll end up with maybe an inch and a half of snow, not quite enough to cover the grass, topped with a light glaze of ice – A typical Maryland “wintry mix”.  Of course, the local news media has been in high gear since last night, leading off their 11pm broadcasts with radar maps, reporters standing in front of salt trucks, and dire predictions of rush-hour road catastrophes.  But for the most part, snowstorms in these parts rarely live up to the hype.

I have a snowblower that I bought back in late 2002, just in time for the big blizzard of 2003 (one of the rare storms that did live up to the hype).  It last saw action in February 2006, and since then it’s sat in my garage collecting dust.  I used to store it with the gas tank empty, but it would be an absolute bear to start that way..  so a couple years ago I started storing it with a full tank and a healthy dose of gas stabilizer.  That seems to keep it happy, providing I drain and replace the gas at least once a year.   Twice a year or so I’ll start it up to make sure it still runs.  I hadn’t done it for awhile, so I figured I’d fire it up this morning in case this latest round of wintry weather actually yields any “blow”able amount of snow.  And indeed, the snowblower started up pretty easily on its 9-month-old tank of stabilized gas.  The winning formula seems to be:

  1. Insert starter key.
  2. Check spark plug.
  3. Plug in electric starter.
  4. Close choke.
  5. Set throttle to full.
  6. Pump primer bulb 10-15 times.
  7. Crank electric starter until engine fires.
  8. Unplug starter.
  9. Slowly open choke as engine warms up.

I always feel sad starting up the snowblower, only to shut it off after 5 minutes or so of idling and return it to its resting place to collect more dust.  This morning, we had a slight powdering of snow on the driveway, just enough that the blower was able to pick a bit of it up and eject it through the chute.  So, I spent a minute or so blowing the powder off the driveway near the garage, which I could just as easily have done with a broom (or probably my mouth for that matter).  It was the first time the snowblower actually touched snow in almost 3 years.

Can’t wait to drive home this evening, when the roads will undoubtedly look like salt mines and the talking heads will be crowing about how we “dodged that bullet” yet again.

Welcome to Winter in Maryland..