So the children and I set out early Tuesday morning to seek snow adventures.
We ran into some slightly dicey weather about halfway there, which is when I learned for the first time that you could actually use defrost to de-FROST your windshield.
I seriously had no idea.
And it wasn’t a quick realization, either. It was after my window was covered with sleet, and after I tried to use my wiper fluid which only furthered the ice smear. I decided I was going to have to find a gas station to buy an ice scraper (because of course I don’t own one,) then I had The Epiphany.
It IS called deFROST. I wonder if it could…surely not…well, it’s worth a try…
And miraculously, it worked!
But what we didn’t realize until we arrived and settled in is that we had actually run away from the snow, and what turned into one of our state’s most massive snow catastrophes.
Our destination, Eufaula Alabama, had been predicted to get a the brunt of the snow. We did get snow, but not until much later. What actually happened is that the snow band very suddenly shifted 100+ miles north, quite unexpectedly dousing Birmingham with snow and ice, causing schools to shut down and everyone to leave work at once to get their children and/or get home. And thousands (yes, thousands) of people ended up stranded in a massive, city-wide gridlock of wrecks and impassable roads.
Over four thousand children were stranded at their schools overnight – some still there now, with dedicated teachers who may or may not have had any sleep.
There were hundreds of wrecks. Hundreds of abandoned cars when people realized they couldn’t move – it was so desperate that they resorted to walking miles home in the still-falling snow.
It was horrifying and heartbreaking to see unfolding over Twitter and Facebook. And then, the exact same thing happened in Atlanta.
It’s complicated to explain why this happens to the south, but this article does a pretty good job. Basically, we have zero infrastructure to handle it, because it doesn’t happen enough to warrant it. James Spann, the weatherman I mentioned yesterday whom we all rely on, issued a humble and heart-wrenching apology. But I know how seriously he takes his service to our community (he literally saved thousands of our lives in 2011,) and am 100% confident that he got it as right as he could have considering the complete lack of historical data about predicted South Alabama snowfalls.
All day Tuesday I had a constant stream of texts from my friends that were separated from their kids, stranded on the roads, and/or trying to get home from work. Chris was stuck overnight in his office (and is still stuck tonight as well.)
Yet we were in South Alabama, where it was supposed to snow, but we were alternating between watching movies and playing in the rain.
It was bizarre. It felt wrong. And all we could do was pray for our friends and neighbors – which we did a good bit.
After the kid’s bedtime, it started to snow here – giant, fat flakes, leaving us with the same amount of snow that Birmingham got, but with warmer temperatures and no mass hysteria.
I went to bed knowing that my friends were safe, my husband was safe, but that thousands were not.
I woke up just before sunrise to the snowy Utopia I’d so fervently sought for me and the kids, but it was bittersweet.
However, there was nothing we could do but pray for the people back home – we were quite firmly iced in three hours south, after all, so we set our hearts to enjoy the place that we were.
The sunrise was magical,
The kids were thrilled (I know the amount is laughable to Northern readers but it was enough to make us happy,)
And the lake made things all the more entertaining.
I forgot that I was three hours SOUTH of Birmingham several times until the Seagulls reminded me.
And of course these signs.
Noah enjoyed the snow until he decided he’d pick some up (in the terribly sub-par gloves I’d provided him.)
Apparently the stuff is cold. Who knew?
Ali was fortunate to make friends with the three kids staying two cottages over – they came up from Florida seeking snow.
Ali even ventured into the lake.
Noah preferred the driest snow he could find, after he watched an entire movie to recover from above snow panic.
And, as is customary in southern snow, we frantically did everything that must be done.
We ate snow cream and made snow angels,
Attempted a snowman but found the snow to be too powdery, made snowballs,
(Which is when I realized my daughter definitely throws like a girl,)
And wrote our names in the snow – with our feet, of course.
In short, our adventure has been successful. We have all three gotten everything we wanted out of our trip – beautiful views,
and plenty of playtime.
And some day when three hour’s worth of roads thaw (hopefully tomorrow), we’ll go home.
Please be praying for those still in transit or stranded in Birmingham and Atlanta.
14 thoughts on “The Snow Chasing Us.”
Goodness gracious, you’re getting some crazy weather over there! I’d love a bit of snow down our end of England as it’s just been raining, then drizzling, then raining, then overcast, then drizzling etc. for the past couple of months. Not being from a snowy country, snow is v. exciting.
We did get a wee tiny bit of snow in Copenhagen on our weekend trip, so that’s something. It was freezing there, though, -3 degrees C (about 26F) with a nasty cold wind.
Glad to see you guys got to enjoy your snow. Hope you get back safe and well.
Wow, I’m not on Twitter and you are my only Alabama friend so I had no idea you all were experiencing such a terrible storm! I can’t imagine people not being able to get home from work or school! I’m glad you and the kids were able to enjoy the snow even though it caused such problems back home.
This weather has been insane! I was one of the lucky ones and made it home yesterday. It took me an hour to get out of the parking lot at my office and then another hour to get to the end of riverchase parkway. After an hour sitting on Valleydale road and it not moving I decided it was time to walk home. Luckily I wore boots to work that day and not heels.
I hiked two miles passed hundreds of stranded cars when my hero (my husband on a four wheeler) showed up and took me the rest of the way home. He also went out to rescue a coworker who had been stranded on 65 N for 12 hours. We were very lucky!
I had a friend stranded on the interstate for over 24 hours in Atlanta and only went 2,5 miles. Yes I am counting my blessings although it is freezing cold here tonight and we (Gainesville FL) are supposed to get some sleet tonight and tomorrow at least I am not stranded somewhere. I have been praying all day for those in Atlanta and other southern cities. My oldest and best friend is from Milwaukee and lives there and I told her that midwesterns must laugh at us southerners when we get weather like this. She has been experiencing highs in the negative 20s with a wind chill factor colder. She said not because they understand we don’t have the infrastructure that they do. to handle this kind of weather. Just as if they ever got hurricanes they wouldn’t know what to do. Not that is possible but it is a reality or when they reach highs in the 90s or 100s most people don’t have air conditioning up there because they don’t usually need it.
Anyway I am glad your trip was all you wanted it to be. I am praying for everyone who is having to deal with this weather and pray you have safe travels home.
I live in the suburbs of Milwaukee, and I agree with your friend…we are NOT laughing at you! We wouldn’t have been able to drive in those icy conditions either. I can’t imagine what you are going through with leaving your cars on the streets and kids being stuck at work. We are all praying for you and we’re so happy that this weekend’s forecast looks good for you!
EDIT Kids being stuck at SCHOOL and parents stuck at work!
I love the photos and descriptions and I’m glad you guys are enjoying your time and the part about the defrost really made me laugh out loud! Also glad your husband is safe at his job, I can’t imagine the way your city and Atlanta is from this storm, kind of like how our area was from the massive 6 inches of ice we got here in December. (except I don’t think thousands upon thousands were stranded, thankfully). Prayers for a safe drive home and for all the people caught in all of this, ps- did you read about the woman who gave birth while stranded (in Atlanta I think?). INSANE!
Yes, I did hear about that woman! And another woman gave birth stuck in her home here in Birmingham. And she had to go and name the child….Wynter.
I have been watching your Twitter feed, and the comment about the defroster made me literally laugh out loud. Then I got wondering, “Does she have access to winter windshield washer fluid?” When it gets cold enough the “pink” washer fluid will freeze on your windows, you need the ‘blue” washer fluid when it goes below 0 degrees Celsius.
I feel for all those who were stranded and cannot imagine my child be stranded on a school bus all night.
All the “high and mighty Northerners” who keep commenting on news sites that they cannot believe this could happen need to stop being so judgmental.
I live in New Brunswick (Canada,) above Maine. Yes we got twice this amount of snow yesterday and it was -20C (-4F) and it was barely a blip on the radar, life went on. However, we are used to snow and cold, our cities are prepared for this weather with snow plows and salt/sand trucks, our school bus drivers know how to drive in snow.
For all those affected, just think of the stories you will have to tell about the great “Snowstorm of 2014.” I truly hope all your lives get back to normal as soon as possible. – From a sympathetic Canadian.
PS: Rachel if you ever want to do a house swap between Dec- April, , I would be more than willing to move into your home in Alabama and you can come up her to New Brunswick, I promise you, you won’t have to leave your yard to “chase the snow.” ;o)
Interesting..I’ve never seen pink windshield washer fluid. Maybe we have all the blue down here? We should send some up there, in that case.
And yes, I think life is back to normal! It was 70 degrees here last weekend. It’s back down to 40, but still… :-)
I agree with Kelly, you can house swap with us any time!
I read Mr. Spann’s apology and I feel so bad for him. Up here, we know to take forecasted snow totals with a grain of salt because things can change in an instant. Sometimes we will not get any snow at all, while other times, the snow totals will be much more than expected. We are used to driving in snow, but places will still shut down. We just don’t get the icy conditions as often since we are so far north. No one would be able to drive on ice up here either.
I live in Alberta, and I agree that dealing with snow and cold is easier when your city is prepared for it. We’ve actually been having really warm temps for this time of year (above freezing), which is actually making things worse because it thaws then refreezes as ice. Good luck!
What a story! I’m glad you got home safe!
The whole de-frost thing cracked me up! I just said to my husband, “Wow, things are really different in the south!”
Great pictures. :-) I’m glad you and the kids were removed from the craziness. I’m sure your hubby wasn’t terribly fond of sleeping over at work, but at least he knew you guys were safe and sound.
It’s been snowing where I live in Colorado for two days. It’s so pretty. I’m watching fluffy flakes fall as we speak. :-)