I survived Winter Storm Leon. Yes, right here in Montgomery we got what the meteorologist were predicting and a bit more.
On Monday, watching the news reports and articles stating snow was coming; most of the reports seemed to focus on the possible accumulation of snow and the “possibility” of ice. So I started to get a bit nervous, but I figured things would work out fine. Then when I get home and catch the news I noticed all the school and businesses closing on Tuesday. Of course, since I work for a government agency we were told through the news conference all of us must report to work and during the day on Tuesday they will make a determination on how they will precede.
So on Tuesday, I got my ass up and ready to go to work. When I went to warm my car up, because it was cold, it was raining. Just raining. However, as I was driving to work that rain turned to sleet. Ah, hell. On to work I went. When I got to work some of my co-workers who live 30 minutes to an hour away were there, and I was surprised. Really. I mean I live 8 minutes from my job with no traffic so I had no reason not to be at work but those commuting I was just surprised. They came because we had to. Well, about 9 am the roads starting freezing because although the storm was predicted it was coming sooner rather than later and the “possibility” of icing actually happened, fast.
I have read some ignorant responses as well as listened to blame being pointed at officials, but the issues that arose were a combination of problems that made a big disaster.
We were never released here at my government agency by the governor on Tuesday. I stayed at work until noon, when I hoped the temperature would rise a bit so I could make it home safely. Also, my co-workers, Troopers, wanted us not to get out there until it warmed a bit. And it did go from the low 20s to the higher 20s. It was colder than predicted. Those who hit the interstates found themselves negotiating slippery surfaces because the interstates froze over, remember it started as rain. Those traveling home were met with black ice, accidents and cars ill prepared to drive on icy roads, not snow covered roads. The snow did start until after 11 am and it would fall and form more ice. A co-worker was talking to her cousin as she traveled back home because her job failed to alert her they were closed, when she saw an 18-wheeler jackknife and then she hit black ice and spun on the interstate filled with cars. She is fine, but she had to be taken to the hospital. Soon after that we heard of two fatalities in the Elmore county area from the road conditions. This was not because of snow.
Although our EMA teams were on deck and the governor finally stated government would be shut down until Thursday at noon, the south is not prepared for ice storms or huge snow storms. Yes, we shut schools down when we get reports. We have no choice because it rarely snows and we don’t have the icing of other cities. No there are no salt trucks in Alabama. We put down sand, but it is useless to put down sand on ice. The ice came much earlier than the meteorologist predicted and the models showed. In Birmingham, it was predicted they would get a dusting of snow, baby they got ice and snow. So those thinking we get scared because of a little snow, yes we do because we don’t get snow like the northern states or the east coast. We do not have the equipment to handle such situations. And for so many especially in Birmingham, things happened so fast there wasn’t enough time to be fully prepared. Again, none of the models showed more than a dusting of snow for Birmingham.
Ice on our roads is a disaster. And I am glad I do not live in Atlanta because even if the weather conditions are prefect there, driving there is a nightmare. All I know is in Montgomery our Troopers did their job. Our city government responded immediately and the state government responded realizing the models were off.
What did I do when I got off work Tuesday? I went home and went to bed. I woke up long after the news conference and I am glad a co-worker texted me and said we were off until today. On Wednesday, I slept in and then proceeded to be bored trying to find things on television. There is nothing on television. I couldn’t sleep because I decided to make a café mocha with a double shot of espresso. So yeah, I was wired. I was also got to read some really ignorant things about the south. I love my home. I love my state. Yes, we are southern, but we aren’t all ignorant, stupid or ass backward. What happen during the storm was combination of things and after what has happen we can all learn something. Family and friends are amazing and we have so much to be grateful for because we are still here.