Since last week, were talking about the snow that was expected to arrive in Atlanta Sunday night, but I didn't think about it much. Snow, big deal. Of course people were getting hysterical about it, it's the South, people start denuding the supermarket shelves of milk and toilet paper if it's even slightly below freezing out and some guy with dandruff is standing next to a fan. It did indeed start snowing early in the evening, but even as I went to sleep that night I didn't worry much about it. Those tiny little flakes, this was clearly a lower-case-s snow, not the SNOW SNOW SNOW they were hyperventilating about on the news.
There's a saying, ready-made for needlework samplers (along with some kind of rueful saying about how Mother Knows Best) that it's not what happens to you, it's how you deal with it. Well, when it comes to winter preparedness, it's not how much snow you get, but how your city responds to it. When I woke up Monday morning, there was...maybe four inches of snow? Certainly no more than six. If it snowed that much in New York, it would undoubtedly be inconvenient and slow things down for the morning commute, but by midday, at least in heavily trafficked areas, it would be salted and sanded and shoveled and trampled into a muddy brown slurry that would crust on the sidewalk until it either melted away or got covered up by the next big snowfall.
But in Atlanta, it has been like the apocalypse. SNOWMAGEDDON.
(Photo: David Goldman / AP)
See, it's not that there was that much snow. But none of it was plowed. None of it was salted. Not just the local roads, but the big arteries, the highways, the interstates, all totally snowbound. By Monday the snow turned to sleet and then the sun went down and froze it all again, and by this morning, it was like a Zamboni drove over the entire city. There were two-inch thick sheets of ice covering the entire (and I mean the entire) highway. I drove up the GA-400 at 20 miles per hour the entire way to work, except when I was on local roads, where I was driving 10mph. Even at that speed I could feel my wheels skidding. The highway was strewn with abandoned cars along the side that had careened into the guardrails or skidded into banks of ossified snow, irretrievable, one presumes, until the thaw.
(Photo: Journal & Courier, John Terhune / AP)
I made it into work OK both Monday and Tuesday, but I think that I had one major protective mechanism, which was my relative inexperience as a driver. See, I don't think I'm an awesome driver, and as such, I know that I'm not some kind of badass. And as I tweeted late Monday morning, what I saw a lot on the road (from the few brave/stupid souls that decided to leave their homes) was an overestimation of driving skill and an underestimation of the physical properties of frozen water. I can tell you now: you can try to go 40 miles per hour around a turn on a completely icy road if you have that much faith in your steering and wheels and obscenely gigantic SUV, just don't do it anywhere around me. Slow and steady won the race in my case for getting into work, but I had jackasses almost careen in to me two or three times along the way.
So anyway, Atlanta has been pretty much shut down for the last two days, and given that it's going to be below freezing until at least Thursday (more likely until the weekend) I don't expect the rest of the week to be a hell of a lot better. Everything is closed. Everything is cancelled. Everyone has been advised to stay off the roads. I might not have even tried to go into work at all these past few days, except for one fairly important thing: I work at a hospital. Like law enforcement or the fire department, medicine doesn't take a snow day. So I'll be there. I might get there slowly, and I might skid in there sideways, but I'll be there.
How's the snow where you are? And are you coping with it any better than us in Atlanta?