so often here in oklahoma the weather is news. tornadoes in the springtime. rain. ice storms. and more times than not the media hoopla made of the weather turns out to be pretty much sensationalistic. it's almost as if they make a big deal of reporting impending severe weather to scare you into watching their news broadcasts longer.
as a consequence, we the people become complacent. we view their reporting in somewhat of a ho-hum fashion. oh yeah, they're predicting a big snow storm. like that's gonna happen.
and the christmas of 09 was pretty much that way. they started reporting on this storm at least a week ahead of time. forecasting cold, windy conditions with perhaps 6 inches of snow. and then maybe a foot of snow. one report a couple days before christmas eve indicated we should prepare for one to three feet of snow. with winds gusting to 50 miles per hour. and then the more realistic approach, the meteorologists would concede that maybe we'd get 1 to 3 inches of snow, with 6 inches tops.
well, for once the devastating forecast came to fruition. christmas eve, 09. started innocently enough. a bit of drizzle in the wee hours of the morning. when i got up at 7 the rain seemed to be turning into sleet. and when i looked out on the patio the wind had blown over one of our metal lawn chairs. i stepped out onto the patio to upright the chair and noticed immediately that the rain that had fallen on that chair had turned to ice. hmmm, that's a bad sign.
by 8 the rain/sleet had turned to snow. hard, blowing slow. 50 miles an hour wind gusts? turned out there were reports of wind gusts surging to 64 miles an hour. and the snow was falling sideways. and beginning to accumulate.
but it's christmas eve. scooter's working today. down at the mall on the south end of the metro area. and he's coming home after work for our christmas eve celebration. he suggested we do our christmas stockings and such on christmas eve so he could share his christmas morning with tracie, his girlfriend. so, egg nog and hot apple cider at the ready. we're all looking forward to a warm and toasty white christmas eve.
around noon the tv broadcasts all turned to weather tracking news shows. no other programming. just the weather conditions. and they were advising all residents to go home. and stay home. don't go shopping. don't go anywhere. stay home. and if you have friends or relatives out shopping at the malls, call them and tell them that if they want to be home by christmas, they need to go home NOW!
by 2 scooter called saying he was coming home. most of the stores in the mall had closed. i advised him to take it slow and easy. he's experienced in snow driving, so not too awful concerned. but lots of wrecks on all local roadways. so he'll be careful. and five minutes later he called. he's stuck in a snowdrift in the mall parking lot.
i considered going down to pick him up. it's about a 15 mile trip, but i figured in these conditions it would take an hour or more to get there. i told scooter to give it a little time and see if conditions clear a bit. meanwhile, i donned my snow duds and went out to shovel the driveway.
at that point we reportedly had 8 inches of snow. with drifts, of course, thanks to the gusting winds. but my driveway said 18 inches. up against the garage door even deeper. i shoveled a bit, then realized the foolishness of the entire matter. for looking out into the cul de sac i realized that the entire street, for that matter the entire neighborhood, is buried in the same type of snow. and underneath it all . . . the frozen sleet from earlier today. i'm not going anywhere.
and about the same time i realized it was hopeless scooter called with the same understanding. he'd decided he'd just spend the night at the mall. he and many of his co-workers. good idea. maybe santa will find them there.
now the airport's closed. travelers are stranded. cars are slid off roadways all over the place. and just recently the interstate system was completely closed. law enforcement officers will not even respond to accidents without injury, and can't get to all injury accidents.
and there's a 20 car pile up west of town on i-40 plus what's believed to be a 50 vehicle wreck on the east end of oklahoma city. and highway patrol is sending their officers home. they can't negotiate these conditions in a two-wheel drive crown victoria. only the 4 wheel drive suv type vehicles can get around. even the rescue tow trucks are getting stuck.
so, there's no place like home for the holidays. and we're staying here. merry christmas to all, particularly those stuck in the mall. or in their cars skidded off the road.