Snow Day Slows Down Atlanta

January 28, 2014

Brenda enjoys the snow in our driveway after we were both home safely and settled in.

The weather forecast was for snow starting about 1pm, but schools and GSU were not canceled, so I headed out for Atlanta shortly before 7. The photo at right was taken when I crossed Peachtree Center Avenue last Thursday, and gives and ideas of the kind of student crowds we get at class-change time.

On this morning the schoolhouses were running and there was a full expressway of cars. Everything was dry - I thought the sky looked different, a bit eerie, but perhaps that was suggestion from the forecast. I taught my class with probably 80% attendance and headed out for Microcenter off of I-75 at about 11.

When I left there were a few tiny snow flurries, but the air was mostly clear until I approached Delk road where I saw what looked like a wall of thin cloud. It turned out to be very fine snow. I proceeded to Microcenter, which took about 30min. Leaving the store about noon, I drove in fairly heavy snowfall, and when I reached I-75 the snow was swirling in the roadway as shown in this photo.

This is very unusual in Atlanta, but the road was fine. I was able to travel about 60mph down 75 and around 285, and thought I might be in the clear, but at Hollowell I ran into a solid line of cars and trucks headed for I-20 and just inched along for probably 20 minutes.

When I did get up on I-20, there was much more ice on the road, and you could feel yourself slipping on the overpasses of the Chattahoochie River and other bridges. People were driving very responsibly, and we inched along at 15-20mph on solid ice, keeping good spaces between us.

I was relieved to finally reach the off ramp to Six Flags Drive, even though it was solid ice and I could feel the front tires spinning a bit. I had it in low range, kept it straight and tried not to accelerate. I felt for those folks who had to travel further on that sheet of ice called I-20. This picture is really a tribute to the sanity of those drivers in view, because they were traveling about 20mph on solid ice with sensible spacing between them.

Any slope was a challenge on the ice, so we inched up Six Flags Drive and along Factory Shoals Rd at about 15 miles per hour. In this view I am approaching the traffic light on South Gordon Road.

I turned on South Gordon Road feeling that I was on the home stretch, but as we topped the hill at Mt. Pisgah Church, we came to a dead stop, and of the dozen cars ahead of me, over half of them turned around and headed back. Assessing my alternate routes home, all of which were longer and as steep, I decided to press on. There were moments when I doubted the wisdom of that decision, for when I topped the hill it was obvious that the downslope was solid ice. I had the little Toyota in the lowest range and was inching along, but it was obvious that I was sliding as much as rolling down that hill. One car trying to get up the slope was totally stalled, and I slowed enough to give a gap for one pickup to get past that car.

At that point I called Brenda and told her that I doubted I would make it all the way home in the car, but I was close enough to walk. Despite my skepticism, the line of cars did make it down the steepest slope. I was sympathetic with the line of cars that was trying to get up that slope, which included one ambulance. All the drivers except one were very responsible, and it was that slow pace and responsible spacing that made it possible. One crazy came along up behind me and passed three cars on a blind hill, but on the whole I was very impressed with the drivers.

Having made it to South Dillon Rd, which is a long steep downgrade which was covered with snow and ice and no tire tracks, I essentially tobogganed down it with the transmission in low gear, touching the brakes when I felt like I absolutely had to. Moody Lane was a welcome sight, even covered with ice and snow. Delighted to be home with Brenda, we could now just enjoy the snow.

These were scenes along Thornton Road, not much more than a mile from our house as the crow flies, and near the time when I made it home. So our gratitude grew that I had dodged the bullet by getting on the road at noon instead of 1pm, and the two hours it took me to travel a normal 30min route was trivial compared to many of the tales of travail that we heard all day and into the night.

These were the kind of pictures we were getting from the news as the situation got worse and worse after almost everyone was released from work at about 1pm and everyone was trying to get home.

We had a nice lunch and then I went out to fill the bird feeders. The response of the birds was immediate and enthusiastic.

A whole flock of dark juncos and several of our old friends, the titmice, were there almost instantly.

Within minutes of filling the back yard feeders, they were alive with a variety of birds on the feeders and a large flock of juncos on the snow below to pick up what they dropped.

Brenda and I ventured out into the front yard, but it was nice to be able to retreat to the warm house. It was still snowing steadily and she joked that it was hard to distinguish the snow from the gray in her hair.

This cardinal was about as fluffed out as you can get! He was sitting on a high limb outside our back window with snow falling steadily around him. The temperature was in the low 20's so he had good reason to fluff himself out.
This titmouse is holding a peanut between his feet and pecking on it. He is also fluffed out in the cold wind and snow.

We enjoyed the visits of so many of our long-time bird friends. From top left clockwise, a sparrow and a junco, a house finch, a downy woodpecker, a chickadee in flight, a sparrow landing, a junco on a limb, and a nuthatch doing his security routine.

A cardinal and a sparrow, a junco, a goldfinch and our red-headed friend, the yellow-bellied sapsucker.

Having mistakenly bought junk birdseed that was mostly millet and barley, I wondered if any of the birds would like it. Here I think I have a vote of confidence from the chickadees.

The squirrels didn't seem to be at all keen on this cold white stuff.

Concerned that a snow-related power outage would leave us without heat, we went down to Marty's for a load of firewood in the back of the little Toyota. Brenda set a fire in the fireplace insert.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

We were grateful to be warm and snug at home with all the drama of hundreds of cars stranded all around Atlanta. We built a nice fire after breakfast with the temperature 13°F outside. We checked in with family in Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana and all were well, so we enjoyed the time.
With snow on the street and our vehicles, it was a nice time to stay inside and enjoy the fire and the birds outside.

Another snow two weeks later

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