Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snow and Ice Bring Seattle to a Stand-Still

I don't think anyone predicted how sudden and severe this storm would be.

At about noon yesterday, Elisabeth and I decided to head into town for lunch and a few errands. Although there had been some snow and more was predicted, the weather when we left was clear, cool and non-threatening. As we sat in the restaurant, the snow began coming down, gently at first and then quickly becoming more and more dramatic. I mentioned something about hurrying and she razzed me for being a scardy-cat and worrying about "a few snowflakes." Admittedly, I'm a California girl who has never really learned to drive in snow -- and certainly not on ice!

As we left the restaurant (Q-doba, our favorite Mexican grill), the plan was to head across the street to get some German stollen at World Market (which we tore into in the parking lot in order to send some home with her), and then she'd head to Seattle across the 520 bridge and I'd quickly pick up a few scrapbooking supplies at Target before I headed home. There are no windows in Target, so I immersed myself in shopping bliss, completely oblivious to what was happening outside. When I stepped out about a half-hour later, I was struck immediately by how cold it had suddenly become and how thick the snow was, both on the ground and falling from the sky.

I was driving the Honda Accord that we bought in April, so I had no idea how it (or rather, its tires?) would handle in winter conditions. I assumed that, being a Honda, it would perform beautifully. Wrong! Even before I left the Target parking lot, I was slipping and sliding -- and scared! I was immediately greeted by gridlock on a street that rarely has many cars on it. Assuming there was an accident ahead, I took a circuitous route... and was greeted by more gridlock -- and more sliding! I called Tom's cell, but it rang and rang -- and really, what could he do for me, anyway? I called Kat and Aleks and told them to stay home and not to even consider going anywhere in "these blizzardy conditions," but they thought I was nuts because at home, just five miles away, it was dry and clear.

Somehow over the next hour I managed to make it up the two main hills without mishap and from there I literally inched my way home. Lo and behold, about a half-mile from our house, I drove out of the blizzard and into clear skies and dry roads! But the storm had followed me and within 10 minutes of arriving home the snow was falling fast and furiously. It was only after I walked into the house that I felt a cramp come on and I realized that I had been tensing my left leg for a solid hour!

At home, I managed to get a hold of Tom on his office phone (he had forgotten his cell that morning -- turned out to be a very bad move...) and told him about my dramatic adventure on the roads, imploring him to leave work immediately and head home. I tend to be dramatic anyway, though, and Tom knows it, so he assumed I was being my dramatic self (especially since he had just been to the gym across the street from Target a few hours before, and all was clear), and he insisted on staying at work. As the snow continued to dump and the temperatures continued to plummet, I called Tom back three more times, each time begging him to head home. Damn my normal drama; he didn't beleive me and thought I was "being cute."

Suffice it to say that he should have listened to me! Tom's adventures are chronicled in my previous post... and he's one of the very lucky ones! When we watched the news at 11:00 (after watching the final episode of The Bachelor -- dang-it Lorenzo, you chose the wrong girl!), the ice-slicked freeways were still completely gridlocked and people were abandoning their cars left and right, and just walking to the nearest hotel or restaurant -- or just heading in the general direction of their homes, as Tom had done.

The challenge this morning seems to be removing all those abandoned cars on the freeways and side streets. Fortunately there's no real commute to speak of, as all schools in the Puget Sound region are cancelled and employers are being urged to allow employees to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

I can assure you that no one in this family will venture further than the nearby sledding hill today. As I write this, the skies are bright blue, the sun is out, the tress are covered with fresh-fallen snow, and it is absolutely gorgeous. Maybe I should have waited to snap some pictures, but I'm not about to head out again now. You'll just have to put up with some photos I shot earlier this morning as I was accompanied by some curious pets.

OK, that last one I just took in our newly landscaped front yard as I ventured out in my slippers... it's just too beautiful not to capture!

Kat's snowman must have started to lean down the hill (yes, there actually is one there) and then frozen! We can't get Shasta to come in the house; she just wants to play in the snow all day!

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Michelle said...

WOW!! What a storm but it looks beautiful. It has finally gotten cooler in Basel again but seems that it will warm up again soon. Hope we get some good snow this winter.. I'm ready for skiing!

blackcrag said...

Since you said you're from Caliornia, you might not know this... cars need winter tires especially in snowy conditions.

I'm Canadian, I do know this. Summer tires, as you just found out, just won't cut it in this weather.

I'm sure the Accord would handle fine if you had the right tires on it.

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