A Snowy Commute in the South

My kids have had nine snow days this year. Tomorrow will most likely be their 10th. Most of these days I have had the luxury of knowing they were coming first thing in the morning. Then I would simply take them to our backup plan…the daycare, and I would get on the train and ride it to work. Sure the back roads to the train would be “fun”, but I’ve driven in plenty of snow and they don’t really scare me. Only the other drivers scare me, but again with the warning, most people here in the South stay home or go in late when there is even a dusting of snow on the ground.

Tonight was a whole different experience for me. We heard on the news that snow would hit us around noon or 1:00 pm. School was open, but planned to close at 1 pm. At 1 pm there was still no trace of snow. I picked up my eldest daughter from school and took her back to work with me for the afternoon. I doubted it would even snow, since the weather reports here can tend to be wrong. Then my friend in the office showed me footage of snow that hit the next closest “big” city to us, which is only 3 hours away. They had received 1-2 inches within one hour. Ok for the northerners….that’s no big deal. In the south, that is a BIG deal. It was heading our way. We kept popping in and out of the office to see what the weather was doing outside (we do not have any windows in our office).

At about 3 pm the snow had reached us. It was snowing pretty good. My husband called me and suggested I leave work right then. I was about to ask my boss if I could leave, when someone went into his office for a meeting. I figured I could wait, after all I only had to drive 18 miles home. At 3:45 I was starting to get anxious about the weather. My friend and I finally interrupted the meeting to ask if we could leave. I didn’t know by then it was already too late to avoid what was to come…

From the messages and calls on my phone, I can tell you precisely what happened:

3:45 I headed for my car. The shuttle bus that takes me to my parking lot was stuck in the horrible campus traffic, so Virginia and I got out and “skated” on the snow to the lot. My husband was on his way home too.

4:32 I am on the road, but still within walking distance to my office.

5:11 Traffic is so bad, that I am still within 1/4 mile of my office. I may walk back if we get desperate.

5:22 I made it six miles. My husband was about five miles from home. Thank God, because the daycare closes at 6 pm and we have to pick Klara up by 6 pm.

5:45 I notice my windshield wipers are starting to freeze and not clearing my window very well. My husband finally made it to the daycare. Thank God! The daycare is only two miles from home.

6:11 I made it 7 miles. Virginia had to go to the bathroom. I had to go to the bathroom. We were hungry. I was almost out of gas. We were lucky enough to find a gas station where we took care of business and cleaned off the windshield wipers. 11 miles to go. My husband hit a few traffic detours. An hour after picking Klara up, he still hadn’t made it the two miles home yet.

7:03 I made it another mile. My window was freezing again. I noticed the heat in my car is no longer warm. Uh oh. My husband faced a second detour, which lead him to a route that got his car stuck. A wonderful citizen helped him get his car unstuck.

7:34 Traffic is finally looking light for me, but I am having trouble seeing out my window since everything seems to be freezing. My husband is trying his fourth route.

7:45 Traffic is very light and I feel that I can drive without worrying about anyone else. The snow on the road looks like powdered sugar, but I know from walking at the gas station there is a layer of evil ice beneath it. I haven’t seen one road that has been cleared or plowed. The heater in my car seems to be working again. Amen. I attempt to take one of the routes my husband received a detour on, and I am lucky enough to remember a little side street that gets me around the cars causing the detour so I don’t have to find another route.

7:50 FOUR HOURS after my journey started, I FINALLY made it home! My husband, who was only two miles from home two hours ago still isn’t home. This can’t be good. I call him. The final road he attempted to take forced him into a ditch. Thank God for wonderful people in this world, because once again someone helped him out of the ditch.

8:07 Chris and Klara finally make it home. Thank you God for getting us all home safely.

I am from the North, but haven’t lived there in years. When it snows I tend to wonder why everyone in the South freaks out. I saw the horrible blizzard-like storms they have recently had and what we get does not even compare. But after a four hour drive that may have normally taken half an hour (one hour on a bad day), I think I am finally starting to understand why everyone panics over snow here. It’s not the snow so much as it is the thought of being stuck driving at a pace slower than walking just to get safely home. Next time I will leave work earlier…or perhaps just stay home – like a true Southerner.

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2 comments on “A Snowy Commute in the South

  1. Kris, Great blow by blow commentary. thank god you finally got home and found a gas station that let you take care of your and Gin’s needs. Years ago I had a simalar experence. When I was working at the mall I got off work at 9 P.M. when I went outside the ice was terrible. What should have taken me 20 minutes turned into a 3 hr. odessey. When I reached rt. 4 there was a truck jack knifed in the road had to turn around and head back down 334 to middle urbana rd to Moorefield rd. and back to rt 4 to home. What I didn’t know was that Jerry and JJ was at the semi that had the road blocked. I made it at midnight. Just thought I’d relate this. love you.

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