Conversation Piece

It’s the main topic these days, this winter.  Here we go again!  It’s the top news story anywhere in the country.  It’s all over social media.  It’s the headlines in the newspaper.  It’s the weather.  Everywhere – mounds of snow, torrents of rain, ice-covered everything, record-breaking low temps and then all over again.  Does this seem like the longest winter ever???

Leaving the mid-west for Florida a few weeks ago was perfect timing.  Weather there was perfect!  Of course, driving through the remnants of the ice storm in Birmingham to get to Florida was a memory I’ll never forget.

It began with “There will be a light dusting of snow and no travel complications in Birmingham.” — Meteorologist James Spann

Uh, wrong!

Ok, living where I do, we all know meteorologists get it wrong A LOT.  But as it was predicted the storm would hit further south, all the snow equipment (which was minimal at best) went south to Montgomery.

I’m not going to second-guess the meteorologists and politicians and decision-makers there, but I lived in Birmingham for four years in the late 70’s.  My kids were born there.  It’s a very pretty hilly city, about 1/3 the size of St. Louis.  At the end of my street was a brand-new mall, the largest between Atlanta and Dallas.  One “winter” day (I use that term loosely because winter in Birmingham could consist of mid-60’s and rainy as was my first Christmas there.  I cried.)  But I digress. . .

It began the day before with the prediction of the possibility of a light dusting of snow maybe occurring the next morning.  Well, the city shut down!  Shut down!  Schools were closed, businesses were closed, the mall was closed!  All this went into effect the day before the possibility of a light dusting.  Being raised in Pennsylvania then living in Missouri, I was incredulous!  I thought it was hilarious!  It did happen – a light dusting of snow.  Kids who had never seen snow in there life brought out sleds (who knows where the sleds came from!)  Apparently there had not been snow there for ten years.  I have to point out that the grass was still showing. 🙂 Indeed it was a dusting.  But it was a day off for everyone!  It was an outdoor party for the city!  My son was not quite two years old.  We put a couple of plastic bags on his feet (one could not buy winter clothing there) and joined the neighbors in their glee!

What happened?  That was almost 40 years ago.  If folks there had reacted the same way last month to the same prediction of old, there would not have been the chaos.

Back to last month, we postponed for a half-day our trip through Birmingham.  We waited several hours away the day after the storm to give them time to clear it up.  I guess we should have waited a week.  We adhered to the mayor’s advice, not to enter the city until noon the following day.  We arrived at noon – to a parking lot on I 65.  We inched along for hours.  Sand had been applied to the icy highway.  But we could see the main problem.  People the day before had panicked and abandoned their vehicles – all over the interstate. I cannot imagine how many hundreds of vehicles were on the side of the road.  It was like a used car lot.  Vehicles were parked every which way, sometimes taking up two lanes on the right, some on the left and once in a while, one right in the middle of the lane we were in!  It was no wonder the roads could not be treated with all the abandoned vehicles in the way.bham ice storm

The National Guard was called in first on a rescue mission, to check for folks stuck in the abandoned vehicles.  Later the National Guard traveled to and fro guarding the vehicles to keep vandals from doing what they do.  And much later the National Guard was used to take people to locate and pick up their vehicle.

When we traveled home, three weeks later, I half expected to still see some abandoned vehicles.  But, thankfully it was all back to normal.  I can imagine everyone in Birmingham has a story to tell.  For us, it could have been worse.  We could have taken the Atlanta route! 🙂

As I write this, I sit here in front of my fireplace listening to the sleet and waiting for the snow.  It is 16 degrees out and no doubt the wind chill is minus something.  I’m content!

“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecclesiastes 1:9


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