The Blizzard of 200814 Feb 2008
Please excuse this non-geeky post, but today was harrowing and quite the tale. We came home from my grandmother’s funeral yesterday. We drove from Boise, ID to Cedar Hills, UT. The trip usually takes five hours, but yesterday it took nine due to major road work at Ogden, and a complete freeway closure north of Salt Lake City. My wife was scheduled to work the evening shift at the hospital that night, but the delays were too much and she didn’t make it in. Also, you can imagine how unhappy our two young girls were from sitting in the car for so long.
Today, we got the worst winter storm I have ever seen. On the way home from appointments in Salt Lake City, my wife and two girls got stuck in huge traffic jam due to the snow storm on the road home. This was just a couple miles from my work, where I was not allowed to leave because of the storm. I became increasingly worried, even more when my wife tried to turn around and got the car stuck in a snow drift. For two hours my little family was stuck and the girls became increasingly stir crazy while strapped in their car seats. Fortunately someone was kind enough to gently nudge our car out of the drift and my family was able to find shelter at a nearby hotel.
My wife called work to tell them she couldn’t make it to work again. I was not able to get to them to watch our daughters in time for her to leave. And her scrubs were at home where she could not get them. And the freeway was so backed up it would take hours to get there, if at all. What are the odds of being unable to make it to work on consecutive nights for entirely different reasons?
Two hours later we were told that we could leave the plant heading away from the hotel where my wife and daughters was staying. I decided to take the chance and leave in hopes of reuniting with my family. The doors of the plant were iced over to the point you could not see through them.
Here is the view of the sidewalk out of the plant. The sidewalk is covered with little rolling waves of ice from one to two inches thick. Although it was slick there was enough traction to walk on it.
As I was walking to my truck I was battered with wind gusts upwards of 50 mph. It was hard to keep my feet under me as I crossed the parking lot. As I got to my truck, I scrapped an inch of ice off my side-view mirrors. I have never seen anything like it. Sitting in my truck, the wind battered it back and forth as if an angry mob was trying to get me to leave.
Visibility was low as plumes of snow and ice blew across the roads. The images captured by my iPhone do not capture the blowing snow and ice as well as I’d hoped.
I was eventually able to leave the plant traveling at ~5 mph. Even at that speed, I almost slid off the road twice and slid into the truck in front of my once.
Eventually I was able to escape the worst of the storm, and then traveled across the valley, where I picked up some food, and then headed back towards the hotel. As I passed under the freeway I could see lines of cars and trucks just sitting there, like a very narrow parking lot. I was on the road three hours to get to the hotel. I was in bumper to bumper traffic most of the way. Eventually, I was able to break off to some back roads and arrived at the hotel.
The hotel is filled with people trying to get rooms. The lobby is filled with folks tired of waiting on the freeway and deciding to cut their losses. We overheard discussions of folks spending two, three, and four hours stranded on the freeway.
Since the girls were now asleep in the hotel room, and the lobby was so full, my wife and I decided to eat our dinner in the only other logical place: the bathroom.
The Winter Storm Advisory was supposed to end at 10:00 PM tonight, but has been extended to 5:00 AM tomorrow. Right now I’m not sure if I will be able to get back to work or even get home in the morning. But I’m very happy to be with my family and thankful we are all safe.
Update: We made it home this morning and I made it in to work. I saw many abandoned cars and trucks off to the side of the road buried in snow. The road my family was stuck on was still closed this morning. I’ve heard news reports that there were also elementary school buses stuck for hours on that road, and the children were eventually brought back to the school where they stayed the night.