Thursday, January 17, 2008


Snow in San Anselmo
My waitress my waitress my waitress
Said it was coming down
Said it hadn’t happened in over 30 years
But it was laying on the ground
But it was laying on the ground

- “Snow in San Anselmo,” Van Morrison

We don’t get a whole lot of snow in Atlanta. And that’s probably a Good Thing, because on those rare occasions when we do, it becomes a clusterfuck of monumental proportions.

It was our first January in the Atlanta area when we experienced “Snow Jam 1982.” [Yes, big snows here get their own names.] Several days of below-freezing weather got the ground nice and cold...and then, on Tuesday, January 12, the snow started coming down in the midafternoon. Within an hour or two, there were over three inches of accumulation on the ground, with more on the way.

The smart ones had gotten out of Dodge early, but the bulk of the rush hour commuters missed the escape window. By the time most businesses had let their employees leave, the roads had devolved into an impassably slick morass. The freeways were clotted with tangles of wrecked and skidded-out cars. Some people saw their 45-minute commutes turn into six-hour ordeals; others never made it home at all.

In my case, an eight-mile, twenty-minute drive took two hours. Given the slickness of the roads and the hilly topography, it’s a minor miracle that I made it at all. It was touch-and-go for a while on some of the hills. Keep in mind that there are no snowplows here, and only the biggest thoroughfares ever see sand or salt.

That night, the skies put down a layer of freezing rain, enough to convert the surface of the snow to glaze ice. The next day, another three inches of snow provided the proverbial Icing on the Cake. Afterwards, low temperatures kept everything frozen solidly in place for several days.

Travel was virtually impossible. Our neighborhood, surrounded by steep roads, was an island of warmth and comfort...but Gawd help you if you needed a gallon of milk.

The forced neighborhood isolation didn’t bother us. We partied for three days with our neighbors. Finally, on Saturday, things warmed up enough to melt the road-glaze, permitting us to once again make our way to the outside world.

Yesterday afternoon, as I was making ready to head into town to meet SWMBO and get a haircut, the snow once again started falling.

Snow in the Afternoon
Uh-oh...another Snow Jam in the making?

The flakes drifted down gently at first, then more insistently, in big, wet clumps. By the time I had driven five miles, it was starting to accumulate on the cold grass, and I was beginning to question my wisdom in leaving the house. But I was committed at this point; there was nothing I could do but forge ahead. I arrived at my destination - about 17 miles away - after a full hour on the road.

By the time SWMBO and I left the Hair Place, the snow had been replaced by a horrifying mix of sleet and frozen rain. That tick-tickity-tick sound of sleet can loosen the bowels of even the most seasoned highway drivers. Fortunately, we avoided the slick spots and got home with no problems.

The neighborhood was white, white under the glow of the streetlamps.

Snowy Night
A temporary Winter Wonderland.

This was no Snow Jam 2008, though. The accumulation around here was maybe an inch, and, typically for these Southern climes, by mid-day the next day most of the snow was gone. But the Weather Gurus are predicting that more will arrive Saturday morning. Feh.

Sounds like a good time to head for the beach, say I.

No comments: