Yesterday we all woke up and rolled off to our respective places of work or school or care, thinking it would mostly be like any other January day in Birmingham. The weatherman had called for a light dusting of snow, and I spent the morning listening for teenagers at my school to start the inevitable squealing in the hallway that would signal the first fall.
That squealing started around 9:45ish, and we all rolled our eyes and told the kids it was no big deal while shooing the gawkers to class.
Only it kept falling. And falling. And falling. Even though it was relatively dry/fluffy snow, within just 30 minutes the parking lot and all roads in our school's neighborhood turned to pure ice.
We heard via text from The Captain that school was dismissing at 10:30. Damaged phone lines and other glitches prevented our district's notification system from getting the information out as quickly as it typically would. Sassafras usually rides the bus from her school to mine, but after a very confusing and frustrating hour or so of watching for her bus and not seeing it, I was told that the bus couldn't make it and had turned back. I took off on foot to her school and was given a lift for part of the way by our sweet cafeteria manager.
This was the scene as we walked back from her school to mine. And, basically, it felt like walking on stalagmites. With cars sliding their way past us, more than once I had to shout for Sass to get as close to a house as possible. We do so apologize for the crushing of anybody's special front yard things.
The next phase of our little adventure was trying to get to the little girls at their day school. By the time I got Sass in the van, their school had been closed for over an hour. I truly thought that our 2 little bitties would be the last ones left, bawling their eyes out because their mama hadn't come.
And of course, they totally weren't. They'd had a hot lunch and had settled down for a good nap, along with about 30 other kids. The Captain? He was trying to figure out how to get his people and himself home from the office, which was perched at the stop of a very steep and now ice-covered hill.
So we set out to get Sweet Love and Pearl. Along with about a thousand other people.
Slowly. Methodically. In low gear. Inching along. Gripping the steering wheel.
Freezing from ice-covered feet but sweating from the stress of just getting our people gathered alive.
Thankfully, Sass was nicely distracted with a movie. She watched the whole thing before we made it to get the other girls...a whole Disney movie and then some, on what is typically a 20-minute ride.
This was by far the scariest point in our ride. There are a lot of 18-wheelers around our exit, and many were stuck on/around the ramps. The dicey part was that they were sliding together, as if magnetized. Sometimes with cars stuck in the middle.
With cars and trucks trying to dodge these trucks from every angle possible, it was about 15 minutes of sheer anarchy on this stretch of the roadway. No matter what direction you tried, someone else was already there and sliding.
Finally we slowly crept into our neighborhood and around to our house, avoiding as many of the sharpest inclines as possible. As we nearly slid down our hill to get into the driveway, I managed to get the tires at least halfway off the main road before Blue Thunder declared she wasn't going another inch. Not.Another.Inch.
I call that close enough!
The Captain ended up stranded at his office, along with several others. We had it better than many and are thankful, but this day was one I dare say we've never experienced. I was really frustrated at the lack of timely information about one of my children's transportation situation, very concerned that we would all not get home safely, worried about proper supplies to care for my kids if we were stranded, and upset that our district was not released sooner so that people could get off the roads. In a day where survival became the focus, I thought a few times...hey, this is why those people stockpile huge bags of rice in their basements. Doesn't sound so crazy in the face of Snowmaggeddon. As a matter of fact, is anybody selling car-sized disaster kits? Because I'm buying.
James Spann, our famous weatherman in the Birmingham area, posted this blog post today. In it, he apologized for the bad forecast and took full responsibility for all that went wrong. Not one single weather projection predicted this type of snowfall and deterioration of our road conditions. Not one. We were in for just a dusting, and that was a nationally-endorsed forecast. Because the worst of the ice was predicted to hit the southern part of the state, that is where all the local EMA sand trucks and supplies had been sent.
Despite that fact and, oh, this is the weather we are talking about, still he published a humble call for people to blame him and not their school districts or bosses. Everybody was acting on the information he gave them, and he says he gave them bad information.
In the face of every option before him, especially those in which he could just reason why it all went so badly so quickly, still he owned this "bust." I call that real leadership. He says that "Humility is lacking in our science," but ultimately, humility is lacking in our world. Thank you, James Spann. You're still the mighty weatherman to us!