I’m not turning this exclusively into a weather blog, but with the craziness that has been going on lately, I just had to write this – my second post on the weather in three days.
Here’s how this Wednesday went down:
The forecast on Tuesday night called for snow overnight and into Wednesday morning, but it didn’t happen here. There was a light dusting as of 6 a.m., but really nothing to write home about. So as has been the case for Monday and Tuesday, the school district decided to delay school by just one hour. Between one and three inches was forecast for the rest of the day, but considering the beginning, this seemed manageable.
When I was driving out to pick up high school and middle school students, it began to snow. Hard. Three hours later, by the time I had dropped the elementary kids off at school, it had snowed several inches and showed no signs of stopping. For effect, strong winds started blowing too. For most of the morning route I went very slowly. The bus slid a little bit when I was making a few stops, and I developed an eye twitch.
I returned to the bus yard at about 10:50, and by 11:45 the powers that be had decided to get the kids back home as quickly as possible before weather conditions got worse. The high school let out at 1:20, and the elementary schools let out at 2:30. The mechanics spent the intervening time getting tire chains on as many buses as possible. (some buses have automatic chains, and those that don’t have sand-deploying mechanisms) I spent the time fortifying myself at the local Subway.
When the buses lined up at the high school, we knew we were in for a rough afternoon. It was still snowing, the wind was still blowing, and on the two-way radio I could hear that a couple of bus drivers who were bringing middle-school students to the high school had already gotten stuck. Unbelievably, though, I made it all the way out to my stops without incident. True, on a normal day it takes me 20 minutes to get to my first stop whereas today it took closer to 30, but I just wanted us all to get there in one piece. On my third stop, I was going up a small hill and got stuck. The bus wouldn’t move forward.
After trying to get unstuck for several minutes, and drifting backwards and to the right until the right rear wheels were wedged against the curb, I called in on the two-way radio and said I was stuck. I was told that a mechanic was coming out to help. Most of the students got off the bus right then and there, since most of them live within a 3-block radius of that stop. After digging out the snow behind the back wheels and burning off a little more rubber, I finally got unstuck and finished dropping off the remaining two students who were still on the bus. By the time I had finished, the transportation department had already gotten another driver to take over my elementary route.
That was a good thing, because I would have been about 40 minutes late getting to the school. I also got stuck again when I was going back to the bus yard. It was the same situation: I approached a stop sign on an incline and couldn’t get going again. I had learned a little bit from my first experience, but not enough. I wasn’t planning on stopping, but the person in front of me did. So we were both stuck. Eventually I managed to turn around by hopping a curb to my left and cutting through a parking lot.
Even though my bus driving day was over at 4, the adventure wasn’t over because I still had to drive home. And even though the snow was no longer snowing, the wind was still winding. I made it out of Ferndale just fine, but it was when I got out on the blustery county roads that I had problems. First I tried heading east on Axton Road, but the wind kept blowing huge billows of snow over the road so that I couldn’t see anything. Once when my view was obscured by one of these billows, the rear of my car started creeping around to the right. I skidded to the right, then to the left, then to the right again, and when I stopped I was turned 130 degrees to the right. Since I was most of the way turned around, I headed back in the direction of Ferndale and took a different road east. This road still had the big puffs of snow over the road from time to time, but when this happened I tried to just look for any points of reference that I could find – signs, telephone poles – to make sure that I was still on course.
Finally I was on the home stretch, just a mile or so away from home. However, the home stretch is apparently prone to snowdrifts. And today, it was also prone to those puffs of snow over the road. Once, when another puff turned everything white, I hit a thick patch of snow, skidded again, and ended up in a shallow ditch on the left side of the road, perpendicular to the road and facing a white fence (that I had fortunately not run into). Since the rear of my car was still on the road, I was panicked about getting hit by any oncoming cars. But fortunately, I was able to rock back and forth enough to get the momentum I needed to get back on the road. Now I’m at home, thankful to God for preserving me through this day (and a little sheepish about all the swearing I’ve done under my breath).
And there’s no school tomorrow.