Thursday, February 11, 2010

Winter Song

Tonight, one could sing that old song "Oh, the weather outside is frightful" and it most certainly would be the absolute truth. Especially on the east coast and yes, even here in central Pennsylvania!

Yeah, we got hit with a heavy snowfall over the weekend here -nothing like they got blessed with down in D.C., or Philly, Baltimore or "The Big Apple" but we got a more than ample supply of the white stuff.

Tuesday afternoon, the snow began to fall here around 2 p.m. I was talking on the phone with my bestest friend from the days when I worked in D.C. back in the 60s and early 70s. OMG! Yes, that long ago yet she and I are still darned good friends.

A little heads up here too -if ever I say in a post that I had spent around 2-3 hours on the phone sometime in the future (on one phone call), you can probably make book on it having been with my old friend, Joan.

We talked about virtually everything from soup to nuts, politics, family issues, rehashing old funny stories about our days working together at the NRA and of course, at our ages now, medical issues and arthritis-related problems. We had lots of giggles about some of the fun things that happened at work, or to us and other friends at work back then. As Joan said, "That was back in the day before management got serious." How true!

But anyway, that's not what I'm really writing about tonight, is it? But then, why am I asking you, my readers, that question anyway? How would you know what it is I'm writing about when -if you follow my blog at all -you know I tend to ramble about a little bit of everything.

Tonight though, the weather is really a big factor in this post.

That snowfall that started Tuesday afternoon continued throughout the night and all day today too. I have no clue as to how much more snow we got here on top of what we already had but I do know this much -it's deep!

I did have a little fun Wednesday evening though with Maya about the snow. Katie -the 18-year-old -had sort of disappeared for a bit and I asked Maya where Kate had gone. Maya said "She's outside." What on earth was the girl doing outside at almost 9 p.m. anyway. Turns out she was feeling generous -or ambitious maybe -and had gone out to try to clear the sidewalk a bit for Mandy -and her Dad -when they finally got home from work about 10 p.m.

But anyway, seems that while Kate was out clearing the walk Maya had gone out on the stoop on the front of the house and was all excited when she came back in, telling me she'd been outside and that she had even eaten some snow.

My response to that was that I hoped she hadn't eaten any yellow snow. Kate understood my meaning but -and it's probably for the best -the comment didn't even register with Maya. If it had, I most likely would have had to spend the next hour or more answering a whole bit long stream of "Why" questions from Maya.

Back to my actual theme tonight though -the weather indeed was frightful, especially all day Wednesday. School in our district was canceled for the day but that call to let us know that it was canceled didn't come through until 5:30 a.m. -which didn't really endear the school district much to Mandy as it woke her up well before she normally would have had to wake up in order to get Maya ready for school for the day. Considering all the other school districts in the area had posted by 11 p.m. Tuesday night that they were closing today, Mandy thought it would have been extremely nice if our district had made the decision then and those calls could have gone out then so people wouldn't have had to even set their alarm clock to wake up early in the morning. (Well, some folks wouldn't have needed to set their alarm to get up that early anyway!)

Around about 11 a.m. though, there was a news brief on the tv about an accident that had happened a little earlier on Interstate 80 -which runs through this area -about 4 miles from where I live -and that this was a multi-vehicle pile-up involving many tractor trailers and passenger vehicles.

They gave the location of the accident as being at the 118 mile post on the eastbound side of the interstate and knowing that area of I-80 -as most of us in this region do -I knew the highway there is on the "downhill" side, about a mile west of the Clearfield exchange at the 119 mile post. It's big, long hill -steep and has some curving to it too. Even in good weather, it can be a little tricky if your foot gets a tad heavy on the gas pedal as you take the curves there.

But with weather conditions being what they were here at the time -nasty, very nasty -I knew that section of the highway would have been downright treacherous, to say the least.

I made sure that at noon I tuned into one of the local tv stations for their noon news broadcast and that's when I learned that this accident had involved a whole lot of vehicles, for sure. Fifty, to be exact! Subsequent reports then stated that there were 30 tractor trailers and 20 passenger cars involved and one fatality.

The broadcasts at 5 and 6 p.m. had the station's reporter interviewing a gentleman from our county's emergency response team and he said that clearing the road, rescuing the injured, etc., was made extremely difficult because of the sheer numbers of vehicles plus the fact that many vehicles were lodged under the trucks or trailers too -plus the location being on the side of the hill, a nasty drop off there also made it even more hazardous and time-consuming for the rescue personnel.

It was believed that the accident began when two trucks both began to jackknife and vehicles behind them couldn't stop due to the snow, ice, slush -whatever you care to call the mess that was on the roadway at that time.

I know the big trucks tend to keep their speed fairly steady, and to many of us driving along in our little four-wheelers, it often seems -as they whiz past us, that they are totally unaware of the lousy road conditions as they splash up great big gobs of snow, slush or even just water on our windshields and often give us a white-out situation too at times then. They do that why -well, because they can. At times, I don't know what's worse on bad roads -to be around a faster moving big truck and risk getting blown off the highway or getting behind a slow-moving truck pulling up a snow-covered road going uphill! Either way presents its own particular set of problems, for sure.

But -and this is just my theory here -as often happens though on snow-covered roads, trucks don't always drop their speeds as much as they should and that same thing also applies to many folks driving along in their cars or pickup trucks or vans too! And a lot of people in the latter types of vehicles often forget a few things -like a big truck can't stop on a dime and also, if one of those trucks goes in a slide and begins to jackknife, there's very little the driver can do to get that rig completely back under control at times.

And if that big truck can't stop, what makes people in the cars, pickups and vans think that THEY can stop on a dime on snowy, icy roads too!???

I'll be darned if I can figure out the answer to that question, can you?

If you're behind a truck and it goes sideways on you and if you're zipping right along then and suddenly that trailer is across the roadway directly in front of you and not moving in the same direction then as you are in your car, pickup or van, where do you think you're gonna land then anyway?

Odds are you have a darned good likelihood of ending up wedged in under the trailer or the cab of that big truck and what do you think your odds are then of coming out of a potential situation like that unscathed anyway? Probably slim to none, don't you think?

I'm not writing this as a condemnation of truckers although I don't think it would hurt them that much to slow down a trifle under conditions such as were present yesterday but I definitely do think other drivers -those who are just motoring along in their nice passenger vehicles -should be the ones to take heed first and slow down -not just a little, but a whole lot!

Oh, and also, according to the news at 11 p.m. tonight, this pile-up was actually two accidents -one at the 118 mile marker which started things off and the second part was at the 116 mile marker when vehicles -apparently trucks and cars alike -came along, didn't slow down fast enough and plowed into vehicles already stopped because of the initial accident. And it was in that part of the accident that the driver -a gentleman from Illinois -was killed.

A few years back -may have been only two years ago -may have been longer than that -there was another terrible multi-vehicle accident on the interstate in the next county to the east of us. I don't recall the exact number of vehicles involved in that one -just that it was a very high number -but six people died in that one. Of course, that happened because of white-out conditions but the roadway at the time was in similar shape as the highway was yesterday -not dry, not yet just wet, but snow covered. And in that particular accident, several vehicles also caught on fire too which made it even more difficult to rescue people then.

I know from my own experience just two weeks ago when I went into a big slip-slide, whiz around and doing a donut before I really realized what was happening to me in my little jeep, on the back roads here that were snow-covered how it puts your heart in your mouth even after you get stopped and see you're now headed in the opposite direction that you had been traveling. Yeah, it's scary even then when you are "booking it" -traveling a bit faster ya know.

Sure we can all take the attitude that we have to get where we're going and get there as fast as possible without breaking the speed limit and if we do wipe out, well too bad, so sad and yeah, s**t happens. Sure it does at times but is there any reason why any of us should try to entice it to come along and drop a lovely package of crap on us?

So, if we do have to go out, drive on snow-covered or icy roads or in white-out conditions where we could run into no visibility or even a big pile of snow that has drifted across the plowed highway, why not drop the speed a bit, leave a lot earlier than normal to give ourselves extra time so we don't have to drive to fast for the prevailing road conditions.

Or better yet -if you don't HAVE to be out, don't absolutely HAVE to be at work or don't HAVE to run to the store for whatever item it is you can't live without -why not just stay home, stay off the road till the weather -and the road conditions are considerably better to deal with then?

Just a thought, ya know.

And if you do have to go out and travel when the weather is downright frightful and the roads are treacherous, then please do it with more regard for the other drivers as well as for your own safety too!


Linda said...

I do believe that I've had phone calls with my friend in California that have you and your friend beat! I know it was over four hours at least at one point!

We didn't get anywhere near the amount of snow they were predicting - thank goodness - but it's still a mess out there! Can I hope that this is it for the year? Probably not as they're predicting more snow for next week ... ugh!

dr sardonicus said...

Sadly, there are those drivers who are overconfident and get cocky with their 4-wheel drives and such; they are the source of many a winter driving problem.

In this part of the world, on the rare occasions it snows we get "Bubba Alerts" where some fool going 70 mph in his SUV hits a patch of ice and winds up overturned in the ditch.

This Eclectic Life said...

Stay off the roads indeed! Here in Texas we are getting some of that snowfall, and it's very unusual here. Folks don't know how to drive in it. I love to look at it, but I don't want to be out in it.

Yellow snow *snicker*

Sandee said...

You do have more than one topic in some of your posts. Not all, but most. It's okay. I follow along fairly well.

Have a terrific day and stay warm. :)

Sandee said...

I'm posting the joke you sent tomorrow by the way. The outhouse one that is. Thanks. :)

TechnoBabe said...

I always thought the truckers kept up a certain speed so they could get up the inclines and hills especially in snow. That is a shame that all those people were involved in a traffic accident. Two accidents apparently. I think it is a great thing that you have a dear friend to talk with once in awhile. However long you talk it is a fun time.

Marguerite said...

That's exactly why I live in the South, cher! It's been cold here, but at least we don't have all of that snow. Stay warm and hang in there!

... Paige said...

how horrible!

Anonymous said...

Oh and today....February 11, 2010 is your Daughter's Birthday!