Are we sure this is still Alabama? Did we really just get another winter blizzard? I know, I know, “blizzard” sounds a little extreme. But y’all, that was a blizzard last night! And if we thought snowpocalypse snuck up on us, this one went from 0-10 in literally a matter of seconds. Thank goodness everyone had a good heads up about it, so hopefully most people (not me, unfortunately) were already safe at home when it hit. I had to work my shift at the hospital yesterday. I came to work prepared. I brought my boots, a change of clothes, and stuff to spend the night in case I got stuck at the hospital. Most of us had the news playing all day in our patient’s rooms so we could keep an eye on the weather. And for the longest time it seemed like nothing was actually going to happen. Hours went by and it just rained outside, or even stopped raining and just looked dreary. Atlanta was getting pounded by ice and snow, and it just seemed like it was all staying north and east of Birmingham. I was rocking one of my babies and watching the news around 4pm, and reports of snow were coming in from Jasper and Cullman. All the weather reporters were talking about the storm system creeping down in a southwest direction (which is totally uncharacteristic for most weather systems). But it still just didn’t seem like it was going to hit Birmingham. My manager even walked by and asked if I was planning to spend the night, and I told her I was prepared to if I had to, but if I could go home I’d rather try that (assuming all the night shift nurses showed up for their shift). Our charge nurse had started calling all the scheduled night-shifters, recommending that they start coming in to work to ensure they would make it (no one wanted another snowpocalypse experience, so they made sure night-shift was well informed about the impending snow).
Well sure enough, nurses started rolling in. Even some Thursday scheduled day shift nurses came prepared to spend the night. I was standing in a patient room at 6:05pm when the PM charge nurse and another PM nurse walked by asking if I was scheduled to work Thursday. When I told them no, they asked if I wanted to go home NOW. Night shift had starting rolling in and was prepared to start working so that some day shift nurses could try to hurry home before the storm hit. I took up their offer, gave report, finished up a few things with my patients, and was clocking out at 6:35pm (an 1.5 early than my normal shift time).
When I pulled out of our parking deck it still just looked wet and rainy outside. I might say it was “flurrying” but it was just that light, wispy kind of flurries that don’t stick to anything and just kinda float around in the air. Greg had just sent me a text saying “be very careful, it’s really bad.” Based on what I saw around me, I figured he meant just watch for ice. I drove down University Blvd, no trouble. Even tried to call my sister about it (at about 6:50). I decided to take I-65 instead of Greensprings because I figured it was flatter and less curvy. As I was driving up the on-ramp the snow began to fall, and within a matter of seconds it was getting a little intense. Within the next 30 seconds, I couldn’t see the lanes anymore. I just kept following the car lights in front of me thinking “well, at least I’ll know where the road is…” But then (only about 5 seconds later) that wasn’t even working. For about 10 seconds, I literally could not tell where any 3 lanes of I-65 where or where the shoulder or even the guardrails of the bridge I knew I was approaching was. I made a split second decision to just pull over into the shoulder to just wait it out (although in hindsight, that wouldn’t have even worked. It’s not like rain that just passes. This was snow, it always just gets worse)…but regardless, before I could even act on that decision, I hit ice. I fishtailed, tried to gain control, but with 2-wheel drive, all I managed to do was get to the shoulder facing almost a complete 180 degrees from my original path. I am thanking God that I got to the shoulder instead of the inner lane where I could have crashed into the median. I am also grateful because just beyond the shoulder is a woodsy drop-off. And for a half a second I thought me and my car were going straight down that mountainside. Thank you, God, for my guardian angels!
Somehow I stayed calm. I’m usually one to burst into tears in high-stress situations or out of fear. But I picked up the phone and called Greg. (and I just looked back at my call history…this was at 7:02pm. TWELVE minutes after I had just tried calling my sister to tell her it was barely flurrying). In twelve minutes I was now stuck in some snow off the side of the interstate. Ridiculous. Anyways, he immediately called his friend with a 4WD vehicle and made plans to come rescue me. For the next hour I was just stuck in my car, watching the blizzard come down in all it’s furry. I had my windshield wipers on high-speed and still couldn’t see far for a while. My biggest fear was someone else would slide like I did and knock my car off the side of the mountain. And I just watched over a matter of minutes my whole surroundings turning solid white. It hit SO FAST. If you were sitting by a window at the moment it hit you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
So without anything else to do but wait, I of course tried to take some pictures… They did not turn out very well since it was dark and I only had my phone. But I tried…
My rescuers finally arrived about 45 mins later. Greg, Michael and his girlfriend came to my aide! Then thankfully, Greg was able to maneuver my car out of the snow and drive it the rest of the way home. Clearly, I am totally incompetent when it comes to driving in the snow. Now I know. 😉 And I will be much less likely to give it a try again. The only thing that flashed through my mind during my fish-tailing chaos was to turn the wheels opposite of the slide. But actually doing that is much harder than in theory when your car is going back and forth both directions. Greg is obviously much better at this.
We made it safely back to our neighborhood, and since I was no longer fearing for my life, we decided to make some fun out of our snow experience. The park was GORGEOUS completely covered in snow. So many people had come out to play in the snow. We made some amazing snowballs. The snow was so light and fluffy and there was just so much of it! Nothing like the slushy wet snow we usually get. And the trees were so beautiful!!! I think because the snow fell so fast and came in so hard, it perfectly outlined every branch of the every tree limb. The snow we had 2 weeks ago did not do this. I don’t know if it was the texture or the amount of snow we got, but this time it perfectly highlighted every little detail of whatever it landed on.
And here’s a little comparison. I took the first mailbox picture 2 weeks ago during snowpocalypse. The 2nd one I took last night.