Frankenstorm in the Black Mountains

For four days it was nothing but wind and wind and wind. Places just a few miles from here were hit with 20 inches of snow, much worse than the South Toe Valley’s measly few inches. But the tiny sliver of Frankenstorm I experienced from 3,000 feet here in the Black Mountains reminded me a little of the stories told by early settlers of the American Plains. Brave people who had ventured hundreds, often a thousand miles from their settled towns, homes, and lifestyles to pioneer a new way of life frequently wrote home about…not the amazing views, not the sense of freedom, and not how sick they were of corn. No. They wrote about the wind that made a good number of these resourceful folks go completely batty.

The other thing I experienced en masse was limited visibility. Here, I orient by the ridge line of the Black Mountains. I know that they run north to south and when I look out my front window and straight up at the sky I will see the summit of Gibbs Mountain. Last week, day in and day out, the ridge line refused to show. I still knew where I was, of course, but one had to wonder how different the world must have been up on top compared to the grey and brown slopes just a thousand feet below those clouds that stuck like glue to the Blacks.

There they are. The Black Mountains. Can’t see ’em? Me neither.

Wind roared down from the tops for three thousand feet and slammed into the Airstream head on. From the side, wind came up from Banjo Branch over the north side of Coon Ridge and shook the trailer on its blocks. Dad pulled out the post-hold digger and set a pole 3 feet down, then chained the 175-pound propane tanks to it…just in case. Weather station data from the top of Mount Mitchell–that very ridge line I orient by every day–indicated that, with wind chill, the temperature up top plummeted to 2.7 degrees at one point. Yipes!

But a mile down the road and across the valley, folks weren’t in the clouds. They could gaze up at the sky (and I drove down there myself just do to it, too) and marvel at the storm in battle with sunset, and snowflakes falling all the while. Taken by a friend of mine:

See the Black Mountains? Me too. Perhaps one of the best sunsets I’ve seen here in 10 years.

It’s been a epic storm bringing out the best and worst in people, from what I’ve read. Here in our tiny pocket of life, we were lucky to escape most of the extremes. And luckier still that some amazing views came along with it.


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