February 13th, 2008

jumping-winslet

February Really IS The Longest Month

Sunday

We stayed in all day, watched the horizontal snow. We were safe, warm. Eventually the snow stopped and we managed, one way or another, to make it to work on Monday. Not everyone was so clever.

During the white-out, blizzard conditions and -20degF wind chills of Sunday's storm, there were a lot of idiots out there still trying to drive. Why? Near us, I-96 at Exit 16, there was a fifty car pile-up. Folks, if you can't see beyond your hood, why are you still driving at even 35mph? Two cars crashed and after a rescue vehicle came, IT got hit by people and the chain reaction kept coming.

Of course, it wasn't news. Not a 50-car pile-up. Not when there was a 68-car pile-up in Pennsylvania. Then there's I-94 near Kalamazoo. I swear they must have a remote control so that when the weather gets bad they just remotely jackknife a few trucks on either side of K-zoo so they can close the highway. Happens all the time. And lately, an odd number of truck accidents have involved meat. Or beer. Or bottled water. No wonder food prices keep going up.

Idiots

But there will always be idiots. Including a friend/colleague of mine, who explained to me on Monday morning that he and his wife tried to drive to Chicago from K-zoo on Sunday. During the blizzard. What part of stay off the roads did you not get? Well, they saw the reports but figured they'd try it anyone, and test it for at least one exit. On I-94? The Death Trap? You're an idiot! I told him so directly. He grinned and said that they were going only about 30mph and couldn't see very well. Duh. They got off at the Matewan exit -- and then couldn't see the road and overpass to get to the other side and turn around and come back. Well, double DUH! Idiots!

I told him they should've taken Amtrak to Chicago. He said that due to the weather, the train is often late these days. Uh, yeah. And your point? I told him that's why you take the train the day before. Oh why can't people realize that you can't drive through just anything?

Tuesday

For a weather pattern that was supposed to leave here, it started snowing early in Kalamazoo. By the time I was getting ready to leave around 3pm, I had to brush off the windshield a second time after brushing off the rest of the Blazer. And that was before I started.

Coming and going lately, my 1:15 to 1:30 commute is taking two hours or more each way. Today was about 2:15. Heavy snow, but fortunately not the big winds of the weekend. Highway speeds typically about 35-60 mph. No one in my vicinity did anything stupid. Well, there was the woman in a minivan trying to get going from a light on West Main in K-zoo and spinning her front wheel drive -- and flooring it further. Lady, you've already lost the static friction. Flooring it ain't gonna help much, except get you into trouble. And I'll be pissed if you swerve into me.

700 church and activity closings on Sunday -- we did not go see Ragtime at GVSU. 350 school closings on Monday. Only 1 closing on Tuesday. Despite the limited traction, they will have the roads cleared enough on Wednesday. Fortunately, no snow forecast for the afternoon -- I have to teach until 5pm. So much for trying to drive only in daylight right now...

By The Way

Oh, and tonight? A truck overturned on I-94 in Kalamazoo. With cows. There were cows wandering around. Huh. And right after they got the cows, the truck and cleared it up, another semi jackknifed closing the road again.

Isn't there a poem about how there's something that doesn't like a highway? Isn't that the one about taking the road everyone else is trying to drive on like idiots? No? Maybe their should be.

Dr. Phil
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Oh Well, Now This Is Interesting

Land of Snow...

Huh. For the first time even, I got snowplowed this morning. I mean, sure, we get snowplowed all the time and when we lived in the U.P., one had to sometimes dodge the plows coming up and down Iroquois Street in Laurium while one worked on scooping the "driveway". And down here I've had to back away from the road while scooping to avoid being buried by a plow. But today was different.

I have a rubber tie-down strap with two hooks, which I loop around the handle of our Rubbermaid rolling garbage can and set the hooks in the trailer hitch so I can drag the garbage out to the road as I start on my Wednesday commute. I had just set the can in a snow bank when I looked down the road and could see a snow plow barreling down the road casting quite a lovely curved plume from its blade. No way I could make it back around the Blazer with anything other than getting in, closing the door, rolling up the driver's window -- it's always cracked open even in the coldest weather so I can hear outside noises -- and backing up about 20 feet down the driveway.

It was pretty spectacular. The snow was white and fresh and light. I think I now know what surfers must experience riding under the curl of a wave, so I can cross that off of my To Do list (grin). The bow wave made the garbage can rock in place, but there just wasn't the volume of heavy dense snow to tip it over, thankfully. And the arcing plume of snow fell up against the driver's window and windshield, pouring off like water. And coming and coming... it took many seconds for all the snow to fall out of the air. It was quite an experience.

... and Ice

Despite the brilliant sunshine I had for much of my morning commute, I have to agree with Kevin Richards who does the traffic reports on the radio, this may've been the worst morning for roads this round of storms. The temperature in Grand Rapids actually dropped down to zero from 6am to 8am. I took 84th Avenue down to M-45 and I kept the speed slow, about 30 mph. As I pulled up to the intersection at M-45, I noticed that just east of the intersection lay a sedan with its headlights on pointing west in the snowbanks on the wrong side of the road. Huh. Guess someone was going too fast and slid across the road.

After I turned onto M-45, I saw another car, some kind of sports sedan, spin out of the westbound lane, cross in front of me and plow into the snow banks short of the corn field. With the light fluffy white snow already mentioned, it looked spectacular. But again, some idjit was going way too fast on a slick road surface. I know I had a big assed dual-rear wheeled pickup truck riding my back bumper all the way into Allendale. Guess he didn't appreciate my 35 mph in a 55 mph zone, weather and road conditions be damned.

This was actually the first spin-out I've observed this winter, which is pretty amazing considering the number of cars I've seen in the ditch or were mentioned in the traffic reports on the radio. Thankfully, I doubt the drivers of either of the cars on M-45 were injured -- though with traffic behind me I did not stop and back up along an icy shoulder to check -- and also that no one else spun-out and into me.

Hope the sun helps dry out some of these roads, so my late drive home tonight is uneventful as well.

Dr. Phil
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