Wow, is all we could say. On Wednesday, the Baltimore area had a once-in-a-lifetime weather and traffic mess, which will give us something to chatter about in malls, office lunchrooms, hair "saloons" and small claims courts for years to come.
The day dawned with a couple of inches of snow dappling our landscape, and if you haven't had your landscape dappled lately, let me tell you, you're missing out. The weather people had been saying that it would start to rain overnight and rain like all get-out during the day, so it snowed instead and then the sky turned rather pouty and rainy. Then the weather people said it would start to snow just about the time everyone left to go home from work, but we took a wait-and-see attitude toward that. I get off at 3:30, and when I headed home it was raining sort of hard. I stopped for gas on the way, and the wind kept blowing my hood off my hooded chore jacket, and then by the time I got back to the Lazy 'C' Ranch here, it was sleeting.
Peggy and I enjoyed a nice dinner and, unable to take our usual 20-minute after dinner walk on the court we live on, we took walks around the house we live in. I was going up and down stairs for exercise, walking through the house, and had the odd experience of running into Peggy as she left the dining room. "Hi there, " I said, with an amiable nod. No, we're not insane. Really.
So, with nothing on TV, I was idly thumbing through Facebook and started seeing messages from people who were stuck in huge traffic jams on the beltway and other highways. I mean, it was like 8 o'clock, 9 o'clock, quarter to ten, and they had left their work at 4, 4:30, 5! Seven hours became the commute home for many people, and no, they were not cheered to think that on another night - most ANY other night - they could have shuffled off to Buffalo in that much time!
What happened was the perfect storm, the one with no Geo. Clooney. The snow got fierce just as the traffic did, and how are you gonna get a snow plow through to plow the snow off streets already clogged with SUVs? Reports of people waiting two hours on a Beltway exit ramp surfaced. Our favorite traffic reporter Candace Dold reported that it took her 7 1/2 hours to get to work - a normal 30-minute ride. Highways were shut down, cars were abandoned, people slept in hotel lobbies. And one person decided to go the wrong way on a major highway.
And then later, the streets were clear! Zipadeedoodah!
This seems like a good time to remind one and all living in areas prone to snow of several things. First, sneak out of work early when a big snow is headed your way! (Not applicable to public safety personnel, news reporters, and grocery store cashiers!) Second, in the winter time, keep the car full of gas as much as you can - lots of people ran out of gas on the beltway. And it's a good idea to keep some granola bars, peanut butter doodads and bottles of water in the car just in case.
And also - an empty water bottle. You'll see why!