Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Coming of the White Death

Today was certainly an interesting day.

All week, weather reports had been calling for a massive winter storm to hit Ohio on Wednesday night. Quite often, reports like these grossly overestimate the amount of snowfall we actually receive, or are flat-out wrong about the storm altogether. This time, though, they seem to have been spot-on.

It hadn't started snowing by the time I got home from work yesterday, but people were gearing up. I had to stop at the grocery on the way home to pick up a few things, and the place was packed with people buying "the essentials" in case we found ourselves snowed in on Thursday morning. The roads were still clear at that point, but the skies darkened earlier than usual. I'm not sure exactly when it did start snowing; I just remember looking out the window onto a winter wonderland later in the evening.

Given how frequently the weather reports overestimate the amount of snow from a given storm, I wasn't expecting it to be as bad as most people seemed to be expecting. Nevertheless, I got up plenty early this morning so I would have time to clean off my car and let it warm up for a while before leaving for work. I have to be at work by 9:00, so normally I leave the apartment around 8:25. Today I left the apartment at 7:45 and still didn't arrive at work until 9:15. Some of that time was spent brushing the snow off my car (and Brandi's), but I probably started trying to drive around 8:00.

I say I started "trying" to drive at that time because it certainly wasn't easy from the very beginning. For once, the weather reports were right: there was a ton of snow out there. I've since heard it reported that we received around 9", but when I got out there I just knew that it was a lot. The landlords hadn't been out to plow the parking lot yet, and it was an adventure just getting out of there. I don't own a shovel, so I basically had to just keep driving back and forth, trying to build up enough momentum to break through, occasionally getting out and clearing out tracks for my tires with just my hands. I didn't get out of the parking lot until 8:30. Once I got onto the street I was mostly fine, but I didn't dare stop at intersections for fear of being unable to get started again. I just went on through, hoping no one else was coming, and I made it out of the neighborhood that way.

The side streets in Bowling Green were still rough at that time. We were actually under a Level 3 Snow Emergency, making it technically illegal to be on the roads. The main street through town was passable, though, and there was enough traffic that I didn't feel particularly concerned about being pulled over.

Once I got onto the interstate, it got a little frightening. The right lane was fine, so that's where I stayed. The left lane was in bad shape. At one point an SUV tried to pass me, and I watched in my rearview mirror as it spun out and slalomed into the median. Luckily it didn't roll over or anything, and when I last saw them they were trying to get back on the road. A short time later I was passed by a semi, which was only inches away from my car, and it was throwing so much snow that I couldn't see anything. I just had to slow down as much as I could (without hitting the brakes too hard) and keep going straight. Once that was over, it was pretty much smooth sailing for the rest of the way.

I actually got a round of applause from the people in my department when I made it to work. I don't think they expected me to show up, given the weather and the distance. They definitely didn't care that I was late. Most people made it to work that day, actually. Needless to say, the weather was the topic of conversation all day long.

The drive home was much better. The interstates were totally back to normal, and the main street through Bowling Green was in good shape as well. Even the side roads were significantly better than they had been in the morning. Brandi and I ventured out to eat at Wendy's, and traffic was moving normally.

Of course, Brandi was supposed to be out of town this evening. She was planning to go to her hometown of Clyde to help her stepmom get ready for their family's Christmas party, which is tomorrow. I was planning to join them tomorrow afternoon. However, Clyde got even more snow than we did here, and she was advised by her family not to come. This made things interesting for me, as I was planning to wrap her Christmas gifts while she was gone tonight, but we worked it out so I was able to get it taken care of. Now we'll just go together to Clyde tomorrow.

From what I've heard, the Dayton area got even more snow than we did in this region. That boggles my mind. Normally we get a lot more than they do. I'm just glad it came when it did so they can get started on cleaning it up. Brandi and I are headed down that way tomorrow night after spending the evening with her family, so we can stay over and have Christmas morning with my family. I can't imagine spending Christmas Eve night and waking up in the morning anywhere other than in my parents' house.

For anyone that likes a white Christmas, we'll definitely be having one around here. It isn't supposed to snow anymore in the forseeable future, but it is supposed to be quite cold, and the stuff we've got won't be melting anytime soon. I don't mind at all. Now that they've mostly gotten it off the streets, a covering of snow definitely makes it feel more like the holiday.

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