Saturday, October 14, 2006

That was some storm!

By now you've probably heard about the storm that rampaged through western NY on Thursday and Friday. If not here's a bit from the Buffalo News:

The Columbus Day storm dumped nearly 2 feet of snow, the sixth-biggest snowfall ever in a 24-hour period, and forced the closings of schools, businesses and a 105-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway from Rochester to Dunkirk. (Don't know how long the story will be there but the link to the full coverage is in the title of this entry)

For the record, if you live here in WNY you're accustomed to snow. LOTS of snow. But this was completely out of the norm. I believe I heard that the next closest day for snow fall in October is 6 inches. This was the kind of thing we sometimes see in January or February.

My lady wife and I found ourselves caught in the storm. We were driving from north of Buffalo (where my daughter attends college) to south of Buffalo (where we live). The drive normally takes two hours.

It took four.

Three hours of creeping along, with visibility very low. Roads not only covered in inches of snow but the temperature dropped quickly enough that ruts had developed. Trucks and cars off the side of the road. Tree limbs down. At one point we had tried a different route hoping to get us either through the storm area or to somewhere we could stop for the night. Our first choice for stopping was part of the blackout area. No luck. So we had to kind of loop our way back since turning around was very difficult. (Try turning around when you can't see the driveways or side streets because of snow on the ground, snow in the air and no street lights. We got caught on a looooong hill and ended up backtracking about 5 miles at one point) I got out to 1)clear the headlights, and 2) try and figure out what the problem was with traffic at this point, when I heard a cracking near me and had a branch fall about ten feet away. It was scary enough by itself and a little more so when I heard one of the three deaths related to the storm was a man dying when struck by a falling branch.

In the end we decided to simply gird our loins and do the best we could hoping that the storm would have an edge to the south. We found it about 15 minutes later and cruised home on clear and then dry roads. Here, well south of Buffalo, we actually got no snow at all from the storm.

We left the college at 11 PM and arrived home at 3:05 AM. It's one of the worst sets of driving conditions I've ever gone through. Thanks to God, my father for teaching me how to drive, my mom for buying a four wheel drive SUV that I now drive, and my lady wife for being a calm presence by my side.

It's good to be home.


PS (Added Monday October 16)Yesterday we cancelled our diocesan youth commission meeting because large parts of the city of Buffalo and surrounding areas were still without power and some travel restrictions remain. Most schools in the area are closed today, some tomorrow and several of the largest suburban school districts have closed FOR THE WEEK! Meanwhile an hour and a half to the south there's no snow on the ground and life goes on as normal.

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