This morning, while I waited and watched for the tow truck to arrive at our home, I thought I saw an errant snowflake or two, periodically falling from the sky. Usually, that’s all we will see here in the metro Atlanta area. Lowering skies and shivering temps that presage snow elsewhere usually result only in a slight flurry here – just enough to tease you, and make even grown adults stand with their faces upraised and tongues out, trying to catch a taste of snow.
However, late this afternoon, around 4PM, the snow flurries began in earnest, leaving a good dusting on the ground after only 30 minutes. Arriving home from an errand, it was apparent to me that people were not taking a chance on icy roads, leaving work early to stop by the store for milk, eggs, bread, or whatever else they felt necessary to withstand a 12 hour siege with snowflakes on the ground.
Now, I have good friends up in the North-East and out in the Midwest (Missouri) that seriously have snow – 18 to 20 inches in places, or even more. (I can’t keep up with it.) I know that right now, they’re probably holding their sides, hunched over with laughter, at what we call snow. (Yes, I hear you snickering, Debbie, Christa, Beth Anne!)
But when you can count on one hand the “real” snowfalls here in Atlanta during your lifetime, you take whatever snow comes when it comes, and you enjoy it to the max!
Just for fun, for you longterm Atlantans, do you remember these?
The Ice Storm of 1973 – Atlanta was struck almost blind-sided on a Sunday afternoon shortly after New Year’s, and entire neighborhoods were without power for days. At my parents’ home in south DeKalb County, we were without power for 7 days and 7 nights due to a neighbor’s tree that fell across the neighborhood transformer from the ice load *after* the power came back on early Monday morning. Since there were only seven houses affected, we had to wait until Georgia Power finally got to us – the next Saturday night.
SnowJam ’82 – It came roaring in on Tuesday afternoon, January 12th. We had just brought our newborn daughter home from the hospital the day before, which was one of the coldest days on record in over 100 years. (-5 degrees) Being jaundiced with elevated levels of bilirubin in her blood, we were scheduled to see the pediatrician on Wednesday morning, but, after hearing weather reports on the radio of the possibility of flurries the next day, we decided to go ahead and have her levels checked that afternoon.
Since my husband had returned to work that day, my intrepid mother volunteered to take us, along with my two boys, ages 2 and not quite 4, to the closest office with the necessary lab equipment. This was up at the Century Center Office Park just off Clairmont at I-85, requiring us to travel on I-285, through Spaghetti Junction over the highest bridge, and back down I-85 to Clairmont.
As we left home in her trusty little Datsun sedan, we had no clue to the adventure that awaited us later that afternoon. Let’s just say that, after waiting for an hour to have Beth’s heel pricked and with the all-clear finally given by the doctor, we began our homeward journey, meeting the blizzard at I-285 and the Stone Mountain Freeway. I’ve never forgotten the sinking sensation in my stomach as my mom’s car skidded and snow-planed across three lanes of traffic on the Perimeter Highway as she tried to negotiate the tight curve onto the I-20 Eastbound ramp, holding my newborn daughter in my arms and listening to my two boys giggling in the backseat, having taken their shoes and socks off in order to throw their socks around inside the car like the snowflakes they saw outside the windows. (Please don’t send me hate mail about holding her in my arms. This was in the days before I knew better and prior to car-seat legislation.)
We finally arrived home safely, two hours after we left the doctor’s office, only to find that, while we could receive phone calls, for some strange reason, we couldn’t call out. My father-in-law had left home while we were out, walking 2.5 miles in the blizzard up to I-20 and Wesley Chapel Road, looking for my mother-in-law who had left work around 1:30PM. He was afraid she had gone off the road in the bad weather.
When my husband got home from his route at 5PM, he joined his dad in looking for his mom, who, unbeknownst to us, had eventually made it to her aunt’s home, forced to walk up a long, steep hill on Columbia Drive through the storm after her car skidded off the road, coming to rest on the wrong side of the road. They didn’t get back home until around 11PM that night. As I waited at home, with a new baby, a toddler, and a preschooler, with no way to call anyone, wondering if my mom had made it back home, if my mother-in-law was safe, if my husband would ever get back home that night, it was the first time in my life that I completely understood what some people mean when they say, “Boy, do I need a drink!”
The Blizzard of ’93 - I was ready for that drink again in March of 1993. Our oldest son turned 15 on the 12th of March and had asked to have four of his friends over on Friday night to have pizza, watch movies, play video games, and stay up all night, doing whatever it is that 14 and 15 year old boys do at such events. In order to give him an opportunity to celebrate without siblings underfoot, we had arranged for his brother to stay with his grandmother across the road and his sisters, 11 and almost 3, to visit our aunt in Lithonia, 5 miles away. (What self-respecting 15yo boy *wants* his brother or sisters at his party? I mean, *really*!)
Matthew and his friends were having a good time, filling our house with their laughter, crude jokes and bathroom humor (wanta play “turtle”, anyone?), when we realized that it had begun to snow outside. Turning on the weather radio, we had our first clue that this was more than just flurries. Accumulations of 4-6″ were expected. Listeners were urged not to travel if they didn’t have to. My husband and I looked at each other, thinking, “How much food do we really have in the house? Enough to feed these boys more than overnight?!”
The next morning, while the boys were sliding down the hill behind our home on every pizza and pie pan that I owned, my husband and I were trying to figure how we were going to get them home. The only reason we weren’t literally eaten out of house and home that weekend was that the dad of one of the boys had a Cherokee 4-wheel drive. (Being a doctor, he knew the need for dependable, safe transportation in all kinds of weather and also knew how to drive safely in the crazy white stuff.)
That Saturday afternoon, he finally arrived at our home around 3:30 and agreed to take two of the other boys home on his way back to Covington, using his carphone (a novelty at the time) to contact the other parents who met him at their exits on I-20. The last boy was finally picked up that night by his dad, who had found some chains for his tires and had filled the bed of his Ford Ranger with firewood to give it some extra traction. Our younger son stayed across the road until Sunday night, and our older daughter didn’t come home from Aunt Betty’s until Tuesday! Thankfully, our youngest at the time, Bekah, had begged to come home before the storm hit on Friday night, so we didn’t have to worry about 3yo homesickness.
So – where were YOU in any of those memorable snow adventures?