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When Snow Hits Unexpectedly

I just got off the phone with my wife. She spent the night stuck at work. She slept on the floor of her office with the tablecloth from their break room to keep her warm. She is one of 16 people where she works who did not make it home yesterday. My daughter walked from her office to a friend’s apartment where she spent the night. She was one of six people there and slept on the floor. Both safe and warm. I work from home, and after seeing the snow begin to fall, I stopped by the house for a conference call and never left.

Yesterday was a disaster. Snow was forecast for the area south of us. Snow started falling about 10:30 and did not let up until 4:00 or so – a short period of time really. The fact that the metro Birmingham area was unprepared for this winter weather meant that unsuspecting people went to work thinking Tuesday would be a mostly normal day. It wasn’t. It became a mad dash to get home and the roads quickly became treacherous. Accidents started happening and a lot of people spent many hours trying getting home. I heard stories of people who worked for six hours just to get home, and it was work.

Multiple area schools were caught by surprise and students had to spend the night at their schools. The interstate highways around Birmingham became clogged with cars, multiple lanes of cars. Wrecks were everywhere, people abandoned their cars and walked searching for warmth. The City of Hoover alone transported 600 people to warming stations. The lines of cars with people desperately trying to get home continued into the night.

We just don’t get crippling snow very often. Local governments are not equipped to deal with this, especially when it is a surprise. Today the problems are ice and cars. Many roads are barely passable because of ice and the many abandoned cars which are literally blocking the roadway. My daughter’s car is one of those abandoned, parked along the road near her office.

The forecast today is sunny but the high will not get above freezing. Our only hope is the sunshine will make the roads more passable and my wife and daughter make it home. Anybody have a four-wheel drive vehicle I can borrow? The overnight low will be about 9 degrees, so most likely we will still be dealing with this tomorrow too. Wish us luck; we will need it.

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During the week, I sell carpet and rugs for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.

14 Comments

  1. Welcome to our world in Minnesota. I know it’s not funny for people that are not used to these conditions to have it hurled at them. We are expecting another 4 – 6 inches tonight which will give us between 15-24 on the ground. The difference is, we are used to driving on ice and snow and we have the equipment to clean it up. Good luck, at least yours won’t last long. We could have a couple more months of this. Last year we 10″ of heavy wet snow the first part of May.

    • Rick, I like the way you said that: “hurled”. Like you say, we are simply not used to this kind of weather. The funny thing is the little snow we got is being described as a terrible event, further indicating how infrequently we get snow. So, best wishes to you and your neighbors, that is a lot of snow you are dealing with.

      • Here is an update on our forecast from yesterday. The snow did not hit until around 7 a.m. and has not let up. We are getting at least an inch/hour and expect it to end shortly after noon. My normal drive time to work through the countryside is 25 minutes, today 60 minutes. Not many plows out when it is falling this fast, they just can’t keep up with it. The positive is, the temps are in the mid 20’s which is like a heat wave here.

        Keep plowing.
        Rick

  2. David Rose says

    Looks like what happens after the first snow storm of the season in the Northeast!

  3. Jeff, I pray that all goes well for you and your family. I live in northwest FL and they let us off from work Tues at 2PM, and we have been told not to come back to work until noon thurs. No snow, just freezing rain here in Ft. Walton Beach, FL.

    Stay Safe
    AL

  4. Vincent Granacher says

    From the pictures, it looks like the worst part was the ice that was under the snow. And there is nothing worse than having that ice under the snow. I really feel for the poor soul who tried to do their part to melt some of the snow and ice by sacrificing their car to a fire.

  5. This has been terrible. My brother-in-law left work at 2:30 pm and did not get home until 4:45 this morning. Thankfully my sister picked up her kids from school because some kids never made it home. So sad. I’m happy to be living in my desert at the moment. Take care, stay safe!

    • A neighbor buddy with a four-wheel drive has picked me up and we are mobile. Trying to pick up my wife and daughter. So far this is an adventure. Abandoned cars line the roads.

  6. Gregg Drennan says

    It is these types of “unexpected” situations that mandate having a bug-out or sustaining bag with clothes appropriate to the season, food, water, heat, light, etc. to maintain you until you can get to your safe place. Hopefully your wife’s office and daughter’s friends house didn’t lose power, had enough food and water for the number of people there and a backup source of heat in case the power was lost.

    I learned living in Nebraska for 14 years to make sure each car, office and school locker must have a bug-out bag in it. The kids never got kidded about it but their friends because it looked like any other backpack at the school.

    Now that we live in Arizona, I still make sure all these areas have bup-out bags. The kids are at college but still have their bags where they can get them in case of an emergency. Having a second bag in their cars just add to their security.

  7. Gregg, you said it – being prepared is a must. My wife and daughter were slightly prepared, but they have learned a lesson from this. Me too.

  8. Wow. The weather’s been incredible this winter.

    Here in the south-west of England, many areas have been hit by torrential flooding. We’ve been fortunate in that we haven’t had a consistent cold spell but so many people are suffering and yet, the forecast doesn’t appear to be improving.

    • Sorry to hear that Olly. One thing that we saw here was people coming to the aid of others. It was heart warming despite the trouble the snow caused. Hope you witness the same thing in your part of the world. 🙂

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