Regularly scheduled writings about running & fitness (or triathlon) is interrupted to write about Snowpocalypse Atlanta 2014. Snowmageddon. Snowjam.
Whatever you want to call it.
Or a shake of the head and sniggering laugh, if you are from the North of the US of A (or Europe or other naturally cold regions).
We have had so many below freezing days in HOTlanta this winter that it became a common joke to say that if the temps were this cold, it should atleast snow! And Tuesday, January 28 2014, showed 70% precipitation starting at 12noon and with the temperature being as cold as it was – snow it was to be!
By a very odd twist of fate, I ended up with 3 appointments that morning (one of which was at my kid’s elementary school). There was going to be no way I could make those and still head into work (a 10 mile drive or 25min drive on normal day), so I decided to take the morning off of work. As I was finishing up my 2nd appointment at 10:30/11am, flurries started. And I got the notification from the school district that there would be early dismissal (12:20pm instead of 2:20pm). Oops, my 3rd appointment was at 12noon about 20miles away in midtown Atlanta so I had to cancel it in order to be home by 12:30pm to pick her at the bus stop. And of course, driving to work as out so I called in to work from home for the rest of the day (I had earlier warned work that I might work from home the rest of the day since there was chances of snow from 12noon to about 7/8pm; a long time in Atlanta time for snow).
I now had about 1 hour free and the flurries were beautiful. So I went for a short run! Finished my run and updated my facebook status.
I even took a photo of the flurries scattered, blowing in the wind and was happy for the snow that finally came! I even made a hashtag joke about snowpocalypse, referring to the standard panic associated with Southerns in the snow.
On the way back from my run, the less than half a mile drive on one of the major inner roads surprised me. It was only 12:15 but the traffic was crawling and I saw 2 accidents in the tiny stretch. Both accidents had cars swerved off to the side of the road. Weird, since the snow had just started about 45-60min ago.
Of course, I then had to check Facebook. 12:30pm and my newsfeed was filled with people posting photos of the traffic jam on their way home! I immediately called hubby to ask him to leave, but he along with the 7-10 people who work together made the decision to stay until 5:30/6pm so that the “rush” was gone.
Nothing else to be done, I got my kids settled in and got to working.
When I was done and logged off, Facebook updated me on the situation again. And it was not funny this time. Frustrated friends still in traffic gridlock. Apparently having moved less than a mile in the past 4 hours. Neighbors who parked their car at the entrance and walked up the hills. And the snow was still falling.
The traffic patterns had shifted dramatically in just 60-75 minutes!
Hubby finally decided to leave office at 6pm and I flat out told him to go spend the night at a friend’s place nearby. Or to get a hotel room. He laughed at me and started the drive. He realized how serious I was when he saw cars stuck/crashed/abandoned on the hill connecting up to the interstate. There was a hotel right next to it and he pulled in to enquire about staying the night. But there were no rooms available. And hubby decided to make the drive home. In spite of my better judgement, I kept quite and instead prayed. I prayed a LOT to every Hindu God and non-Hindu ones too!
After a LOT of drama, he made it home by 11:00pm. A miracle considering that people who had left earlier were stuck and almost all roads had just one lane open; for traffic going in both directions! His tiny little Nissan Leaf, an all electric car (which I’ve honestly been not too crazy about because of the near experiences we’ve had with loosing all battery!), pulled him up hills and over ice that other bigger cars were stuck in! And somehow the battery had lasted the 4 hours he was on the road!!
Talking to my friends and seeing Facebook statuses, it was a nightmare! Many spending the night in the car or in shelters in stores that opened up, one with a kid still on bus (what a nightmare!), friends who had crashed or spun out of control, all with tales of desperation and frustration, an overwhelming feeling of helplessness.
But also came an pouring of help and compassion. Stories of strangers offering strangers a place to stay, trekking to rescue stuck friends, packing up food and blankets to pass out. There was even a baby born on the side of the interstate! Social media stepped up and a group was created that helped people connect.
I’m not a meteorologist or a government official to talk in depths about the causes of the gridlock. But the SnowJam happened. Atlanta was frozen in place, and the scare was very real to the people caught in it. No matter how much anyone makes fun of it.
Atlanta was indeed Frozen in Place, like a scene from The Walking Dead (So everyone tells me on social media. I have never watched the movie myself.)
In the aftermath, the next day was spent trying to change hubby’s international flight. That proved futile as there wasn’t any available seat open for his “non-flexible” ticket. And then to get a cab to take him to the airport. Nada. And then the nail biting to wait until he made the drive all by himself amongst the carnage of the previous day. (He made it safely and also made it to his destination without any delay)
Whew! What a couple of days! I’m ready for a loooong nap now!