Winter Storm Elliot (Making a Mess of Christmas)

The snow doesn’t give a soft white damn whom it touches.


This Christmas didn’t go as planned. In fact, at times it didn’t really feel like Christmas at all. While we certainly had a white Christmas, something not as common as it once was in Northeast Ohio, the arrival of Winter Storm Elliot threw our Christmas plans into disarray this year.

Afternoon weather conditions on Christmas Eve

Elliot arrived with a fury in the days leading up to Christmas. A massive storm system that impacted two-thirds of the country, Elliot brought hurricane force winds and brutally cold temperatures throughout the midwest and eastern United States. Here in Northeast Ohio we saw wind gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour and air temps as low as -4 degrees Farenheit. Wind chills pushed as low as -30 and persisted over the course of about 48 hours.

This storm was deadly. Nearly 60% of the United States population was under some type of weather warning during this storm system’s course. Five of the 18 fatalities associated with Elliot were here in the State of Ohio. Nearly 2 million people along the East Coast lost power during the storm. Stores quickly emptied out of necessary supplies in the days leading up to Elliot’s arrival.

Empty shelves as space heaters clear out ahead of the storm.

Just looking at statistics it’s easy to get lost in the grim realities of this storm.

But, even in this storm and its aftermath, we find reasons to be grateful.

Yes, our Christmas plans were interrupted. This was a fate no doubt shared by millions of Americans. Our second eldest daughter and grandchild could not be with us for Christmas due to the storm. The drive from Indiana to Ohio would simply not have been safe for them to make with Elliot’s severe weather impact. Even local family members could not make the journey to our homestead as we had planned. Still a handful of us managed to gather together on Christmas Eve. For that opportunity we are grateful. All are safe and we can gather at a later date.

Yes, our animals were stressed. The cold winds and blowing snow were unlike anything I’ve experienced in recent memory. Snow found its way into buildings and shelters. The penetrating cold was unstoppable. Warm buckets of water intended for animals to drink froze solid within the hour. But we had prepared ahead of the storm. And we scrambled effectively during the storm. Despite the relatively primitive shelters in which our chickens and goats live, we experienced no loss of life or damage to any of our animals during the storm. For that we are grateful.

Buckets of warm water froze solid during the storm.

Yes, our bathroom pipes froze and our bedroom floors were cold. But thankfully we have an extra bathroom in which the pipes did not freeze so we were not without water. Clever placement of space heaters throughout our home raised temps to comfortable levels and opened up frozen pipes that, thankfully, did not burst. We fortunately never lost power during the storm. That seems like a miracle in its own right given the intensity of the storm. We’re thankful that we were prepared.

A space heater gently warming the overhead waterlines back to life.

Yes, despite all that Elliot had to throw at us over the course of the storm, we are no worse for wear. The storm has passed and our plans are already in the works to get everyone together to celebrate the dinner we missed and the coming together that this season brings. We’re grateful that our home is still here, our animals are all well, and all members of our family are safe and warm in the wake of Winter Storm Elliot.

We even managed to celebrate a little with the animals on Christmas day!

What are you thankful for this Christmas season on your homestead? Share your blessings with us in the comments below.

Bonus: Want to see our mid-storm update on YouTube? Click here!

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