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Friday, January 31, 2014

Day 3 in the Southern Snow

Day 3 in the Southern Snow


Day 3 in the Southern Snow

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 11:28 AM PST

While I was out driving yesterday, I listened to the Governor's press conference on the radio. I heard the Governor mention several times that he called upon the National Guard to assist with the weather situation in Atlanta. �Fortunately, after the press conference, the radio host provided more detail about how the National Guard was helping. I learned that the NG was helping the local law enforcement and local emergency services with the removal of vehicles by providing transportation for people who needed to retrieve their abandoned cars. I drove to the local train station, West Lake Marta Station, where people were instructed to go if they needed transportation to their vehicles. When arrived, there among the agencies were the Georgia State Patrol, Marta Police, Atlanta Police, GEMA, HERO, and the National Guard set up as a hub. All agencies worked together to transfer people via Humvees�to their vehicles.

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Why I Ditched My Car and Ran Home Happy: Atlanta Snowpocalypse of 2014

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 10:43 AM PST

The day started out normal enough. I left home around 6:30AM to go to work. I didn't feel great about this since it was my wife's birthday and my team had accepted a contract to do some marketing work at Emory and Georgia Tech for the Economist Magazine. I'm a writer but have been making ends meet as a brand manager for various brand launches. This was the final day of the contract for this particular job. A few hours getting the word out, then I'd be back home with my wife and one-year-old son to celebrate.

After a few hours I mosied through very light flurries and retrieved my car from the $3 lot close to Tech's campus. The next 7 hours would prove to be an experience I will never forget. But wait, let's rewind for a sec. A few days ago I remember my wife telling that the 5 day forecast mentioned "snow flurries" early in the week. We thought nothing of this since "snow flurries" in Atlanta usually means a few sparse flakes, unnessecarily panicked motorists, and obnoxious FB memes about the city's drivers. We even joked about how similar Atlantans in a little snow are to Southern California in a little rain. Little did I know that by 6:30PM I would be traversing on foot the murderously icy hills of Cobb Parkway in 4 inches of snow and 20 degree weather.

Before I left the comfort of my car, the hours between 12:15PM and 5:30PM were spent in bumper to bumper traffic between downtown Atlanta and Marietta. My smartphone maps application showed me that all of the highway routes were crimson red with dozens upon dozens of reported traffic incidents. The map it showed looked like some photoshopped prank picture we see so often on social media. But as I crossed a bridge downtown overlooking the highway I realized that the map was chillingly accurate. I-75/85 was literally a parking lot. I could see people out of their cars tending to fender benders every few hundred yards or so. The scene was very Walking Dead-esque. The freeway was obviously out of the question.

After I made the decision to stick to Atlanta's few navigable surface streets, I was only a half hour into my Odyssian journey. Everyone read Homer's Odyssey in high school right? For the next few hours many futile attempts were made to go where the traffic wasn't. I would drive an empty icy backroad only to be confronted with a line of cars at the end of it. It felt like a dangerous adventure book from my childhood. You know, choose A, B, or C once the jack-knifed 18 wheeler is spinning out in both lanes. I dodged sliding minivans, witnessed sobbing 20-somethings, road rage, at least 4 accidents right next to me, 2 flipped cars, and a couple schoolbuses full of children hopelessly stalled at the bottom of ice covered hills. I also saw some amazing things; A man in a mechanic's coverall was rescuing stuck car after stuck car with his miracle wooden board. There was a woman with a huge Afro honking at the folks beside her just to wave and smile. A family of 6 in an SUV hopped out to play in the snow on a nearby hill for a half hour. All they were missing was a sled.

I did my best to remain positive, laugh with some of my equally high-spirited moto-neighbors, and keep out-thinking the traffic. Around hour 5 the full bladder and hunger pangs started to catch up with me. Out-thinking the traffic was not going so well. I had faught my way from downtown through Vinings and now sat on Cobb parkway just 6 miles from home. So close, yet so very far away. There was a Subway in the large shopping center to my right with a cluster of cars in front. Everything else must have been abandoned hours before since all of the parking spaces showed not even an inch of pavement. I decided to get a bite to eat, relieve myself, and resume the homeward efforts to my land of Ithaka. I had travelled too far and faught too many Cyclopses, sirens, and witches to "pull over and wait it out" as the radio hosts were suggesting. Would they have given the same advice to Odysseus as he fought to get home to his wife and son?

When I left the shopping center parking lot and re-entered the Cobb parkway parking lot there sat the same group of idling cars as when I left about 45 minutes earlier. It was strange to me because I could have sworn I saw traffic moving while inside Subway. A winter mirage? These cars had not moved 10 feet. Before the sandwich excursion, my wife half-jokingly suggested that I ditch the car in a parking lot and run home. She got the idea from my brother-in-law in Sandy Springs who decided to park his car and walk 3 miles to his apartment. It would be 5 miles for me negotiating Cobb parkway's hilly terrain. Why not? I happened to be wearing my running shoes and I had just published a fitness eBook earlier in the month. Time to live my work right? Running home should have been part of the plan all along. The decision had been made. I would run the entire distance home. I parked in the deserted Cobb Galleria Business Center deck, recorded a short video to commemorate the occassion, launched my Nike+ app and started the final leg of the journey.

Oh the sights I saw. Every single intersection (about 10) was fully blocked in all directions. There was a professionally dressed graying man beating on the hood of a young woman's SUV for being one of the dozen cars blocking people from entering Cobb from 285. One man would not stop flooring his luxury car's gas pedal as it slipped on the ice until it finally lurched forward and slammed into the car in front of him. I ran by at least 30 people walking in each direction. Some of them were laughing and having conversations and some were silent as if they were part of some forced exodus to no-man's land. A couple in a pick-up offered me a ride in their truck bed as they sat stuck behind a thousand idling and abandoned vehicles. "No thanks."

As I ran up then down the snowy hills I realized that I was enjoying this immensely. I was not cold. Nothing felt unpleasant about this at all. To be honest, a 5 mile run is not even the greatest of challenges in and of itself to a frequent runner. The snow, the cold, and the steep hills made it a bit more lofty. I had ample time to reflect on many things. The sound of my shoes on the snow and ice along with the sound of my breath became a sort of mantra. The run became an hour-long meditation. I walked into the warmth of our home and the arms of my family a proud man. Sometimes making ourselves proud is all we need. I was proud that I made the decision to challenge myself. I was proud of the decision I made to make it home at a decent hour to be with my little family on my wife's birthday. But most of all I was proud that I had the presence of mind to turn these unforseen circumstances life often saddles us with into personal triumph. Cheers to you doing the same the very next time the opportunity arises.

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Walking on the Interstate in Downtown Atlanta

Posted: 31 Jan 2014 01:41 AM PST

I left work at 1pm in Alpharetta, Georgia thinking I was leaving early ahead of rush hour traffic. Little did I know that a normal 1-1.5 hour commute back home to Atlanta would last until 1:30pm the next day! I started to worry when the usual 2 minute drive on my office street took 45 minutes. Then I was stuck again in a traffic jam on 400 basically sitting the entire time moving inches it seemed every 15 minutes or so. I had skipped lunch and I ate an entire bag of veggie chips while I was in the car.

 

By the time I exited 400 and reached 85 South, I found out the cause for the traffic jam. Interstate 85 had turned into one massive skating rink with ice so thick you could barely make out the lines separating the lanes. There were 2 tractor trailers that had jackknifed on the road, cars slipping and sliding on the icy road, and delivery trucks scattered every which way, just sitting there it seems like they gave up. I slowly and carefully maneuvered my little Scion tc around them closer to downtown Atlanta. That's when panic started to set in. The roads barely had any cars on them, it was dark, the temperature was in the teens, and my cell phone battery was down to 10% due to thoughtful and concerned friends, family, and co-workers calling and sending texts.

 

It was around 10th/14th Street when I got stuck and my tires kept spinning. I couldn't move forward. I found out that if I reversed my car backwards, I could move closer to the right side of the interstate. I tried to get as close as I could to the right side, but cars were starting to pile up behind me. I was stuck again and I couldn't do anything but sit there helplessly and wait for people to move. People started coming out of their cars to use cardboard boxes to put under their tires, I saw 2 people jumping on the bed of a truck to keep it from getting stuck on the ice. People were pushing against other cars to slide their car to the side. I saw a huge truck "push" a car in front of it so it could move forward. Numerous cars were pressing on their accelerators, but going nowhere and you could hear the sounds of their cars' wheels futile attempts to gain traction on the ice. Cars and tractor trailers were slowly moving and sliding on the road inches from my car. I was praying that they wouldn't hit my car or even worse, that I wouldn't get crushed in between 2 trucks.

 

Finally, after sitting there for an hour with a dead cell phone, a group of kind strangers helped me push/slide my car to the emergency lane. From where I was sitting, I saw a Marriott Courtyard on Techwood Drive. I thought it would be better to see if I can walk over there to get a room rather than attempt to make the few miles back home on icy roads and potentially get stuck again. I was wearing a skirt and high heel boots and I started to slip on the iced roads. One of the 2 ladies who had abandoned their car behind me offered to give me a pair of her UGG boots so I can walk across the street safely. One of the strangers who helped pushed my car to the side of the road offered to drive me to the hotel on his 4 wheel drive SUV. It was a short walk there, so instead he helped carry me over the median that separated the interstate from the road, carried and handed over my laptop bag and handbag to me.

 

After climbing over a guardrail and slowly walking on the slippery road, I arrived at the hotel near midnight. I asked for a room, but they were overbooked so I asked if I could stay in the lobby to stay warm and they said that I was welcome to. I wasn't alone as there were about 30 people in there stranded and in the same situation I was in. I started talking to others who described the same ordeal I encountered that night. Fortunately, a few rooms became available and I was able to take a hot shower and finally rest. When I awoke in the morning, I could see a line of parked cars on the side of the interstate and considered myself blessed and fortunate for getting stuck near a hotel.

 

There seemed to be a few more cars out on the interstate around 1pm so I decided to take a chance to drive the few miles back home. A news reporter saw me going over the guardrail and interviewed me for a few minutes, helped me over the huge median and then assisted me in pushing my car away from the ice. The interstate roads had improved a bit, so I decided to take the next exit, North Ave and the back roads, North Ave to Ponce de Leon to Moreland and Hosea Williams to go back home. Along the way, I saw numerous people walking on the streets and scattered, dented cars abandoned by their owners. By 1:30pm I was safe at home!

 

After watching the news and hearing from a co-worker recount the night being stuck in their car on 285 and hearing about my manager getting stuck in his truck in Roswell with his baby and seeking shelter at Kroger, I considered myself one of the more fortunate ones. Even more so, I was amazed and humbled by the kindness shown by absolute strangers in a time of chaos and distress. Despite what I've been hearing on the news about the city of Atlanta, I am proud to live in a city where amidst a time of crisis, strangers acted in kindness.

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Helping hands

Posted: 30 Jan 2014 09:57 PM PST

A group of good samaritans used any available tools to help clear the road of ice left from Tuesday's storm, most having already freed their cars from the pile up.

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Why I Ditched My Car and Ran Home Happy: Atlanta Snowpocalypse of 2014

Posted: 30 Jan 2014 03:44 PM PST

The day started out normal enough. I left home around 6:30AM to go to work. I didn't feel great about this since it was my wife's birthday and my team had accepted a contract to do some marketing work at Emory and Georgia Tech for the Economist Magazine. I'm a writer but have been making ends meet as a brand manager for various brand launches. This was the final day of the contract for this particular job. A few hours getting the word out, then I'd be back home with my wife and one-year-old son to celebrate.

 

After a few hours I mosied through very light flurries and retrieved my car from the $3 lot close to Tech's campus. The next 7 hours would prove to be an experience I will never forget. But wait, let's rewind for a sec. A few days ago I remember my wife telling that the 5 day forecast mentioned "snow flurries" early in the week. We thought nothing of this since "snow flurries" in Atlanta usually means a few sparse flakes, unnessecarily panicked motorists, and obnoxious FB memes about the city's drivers. We even joked about how similar Atlantans in a little snow are to Southern California in a little rain. Little did I know that by 6:30PM I would be traversing on foot the murderously icy hills of Cobb Parkway in 4 inches of snow and 20 degree weather.

 

Before I left the comfort of my car, the hours between 12:15PM and 5:30PM were spent in bumper to bumper traffic between downtown Atlanta and Marietta. My smartphone maps application showed me that all of the highway routes were crimson red with dozens upon dozens of reported traffic incidents. The map it showed looked like some photoshopped prank picture we see so often on social media. But as I crossed a bridge downtown overlooking the highway I realized that the map was chillingly accurate. I-75/85 was literally a parking lot. I could see people out of their cars tending to fender benders every few hundred yards or so. The scene was very Walking Dead-esque. The freeway was obviously out of the question.

 

After I made the decision to stick to Atlanta's few navigable surface streets, I was only a half hour into my Odyssian journey. Everyone read Homer's Odyssey in high school right? For the next few hours many futile attempts were made to go where the traffic wasn't. I would drive an empty icy backroad only to be confronted with a line of cars at the end of it. It felt like a dangerous adventure book from my childhood. You know, choose A, B, or C once the jack-knifed 18 wheeler is spinning out in both lanes. I dodged sliding minivans, witnessed sobbing 20-somethings, road rage, at least 4 accidents right next to me, 2 flipped cars, and a couple schoolbuses full of children hopelessly stalled at the bottom of ice covered hills. I also saw some amazing things; A man in a mechanic's coverall was rescuing stuck car after stuck car with his miracle wooden board. There was a woman with a huge Afro honking at the folks beside her just to wave and smile. A family of 6 in an SUV hopped out to play in the snow on a nearby hill for a half hour. All they were missing was a sled.

 

I did my best to remain positive, laugh with some of my equally high-spirited moto-neighbors, and keep out-thinking the traffic. Around hour 5 the full bladder and hunger pangs started to catch up with me. Out-thinking the traffic was not going so well. I had faught my way from downtown through Vinings and now sat on Cobb parkway just 6 miles from home. So close, yet so very far away. There was a Subway in the large shopping center to my right with a cluster of cars in front. Everything else must have been abandoned hours before since all of the parking spaces showed not even an inch of pavement. I decided to get a bite to eat, relieve myself, and resume the homeward efforts to my land of Ithaka. I had travelled too far and faught too many Cyclopses, sirens, and witches to "pull over and wait it out" as the radio hosts were suggesting. Would they have given the same advice to Odysseus as he fought to get home to his wife and son?

 

When I left the shopping center parking lot and re-entered the Cobb parkway parking lot there sat the same group of idling cars as when I left about 45 minutes earlier. It was strange to me because I could have sworn I saw traffic moving while inside Subway. A winter mirage? These cars had not moved 10 feet. Before the sandwich excursion, my wife half-jokingly suggested that I ditch the car in a parking lot and run home. She got the idea from my brother-in-law in Sandy Springs who decided to park his car and walk 3 miles to his apartment. It would be 5 miles for me negotiating Cobb parkway's hilly terrain. Why not? I happened to be wearing my running shoes and I had just published a fitness eBook earlier in the month. Time to live my work right? Running home should have been part of the plan all along. The decision had been made. I would run the entire distance home. I parked in the deserted Cobb Galleria Business Center deck, recorded a short video to commemorate the occassion, launched my Nike+ app and started the final leg of the journey.

 

Oh the sights I saw. Every single intersection (about 10) was fully blocked in all directions. There was a professionally dressed graying man beating on the hood of a young woman's SUV for being one of the dozen cars blocking people from entering Cobb from 285. One man would not stop flooring his luxury car's gas pedal as it slipped on the ice until it finally lurched forward and slammed into the car in front of him. I ran by at least 30 people walking in each direction. Some of them were laughing and having conversations and some were silent as if they were part of some forced exodus to no-man's land. A couple in a pick-up offered me a ride in their truck bed as they sat stuck behind a thousand idling and abandoned vehicles. "No thanks."

 

As I ran up then down the snowy hills I realized that I was enjoying this immensely. I was not cold. Nothing felt unpleasant about this at all. To be honest, a 5 mile run is not even the greatest of challenges in and of itself to a frequent runner. The snow, the cold, and the steep hills made it a bit more lofty. I had ample time to reflect on many things. The sound of my shoes on the snow and ice along with the sound of my breath became a sort of mantra. The run became an hour-long meditation. I walked into the warmth of our home and the arms of my family a proud man. Sometimes making ourselves proud is all we need. I was proud that I made the decision to challenge myself. I was proud of the decision I made to make it home at a decent hour to be with my little family on my wife's birthday. But most of all I was proud that I had the presence of mind to turn these unforseen circumstances life often saddles us with into personal triumph. Cheers to you doing the same the very next time the opportunity arises.

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Hello, Son!

Posted: 30 Jan 2014 11:04 AM PST

I would like to give a shout out/SALUTE! to my 18 year old son, Jack Wiker, who just recently left home in WA State for USMC Boot Camp at Camp Pendleton in San Diego, CA. I want him to know how much I love and miss him and how very PROUD I am to call him my son! I am his biggest cheerleader and he is in my thought and prayers everyday!
Love, Mom.

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Snowflake Photography

Posted: 30 Jan 2014 08:55 AM PST

As part of the Ontario Winter Lake effect Systems (OWLeS) project, a National Science Foundation research effort, one responsibility of university research students was to photograph ice crystals at various weather balloon sites around Lake Ontario. Some of these photos may go well with your snowflake imagery link. More information and contacts about the project can be found at (http://owles.org/) Feel free to zoom zoom in and crop pictures as you wish!

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24 hours sleepless at the airport

Posted: 30 Jan 2014 08:46 AM PST

I'm with a group of Brazilians returning from a Congress held in Orlando by Transitions Lenses and are very tired without alimentação.Após successive cancellations of flights bound for Sao Paulo, Brasília and Rio de Janeiro, started the confusion of information in Delta Airlines.Agora morning got access to Delta Sky Club where we can bathe and have the promise of being able to embark almoço.Cancelamos after the meeting and we were very tired!

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24" of Lake Effect Snow Overnight East of Lake Ontario New York

Posted: 30 Jan 2014 07:06 AM PST

The easiest way to tell how much snow we're going to get in Northern New York, East of Lake Ontario, where Lake Effect snows are frequent in the Wintertime is to wait until the next day. We got 24" last night.
Last night about midnight, I looked out the front window and was surprised.
We'd heard that South of us about 8 miles on the Tug Hill Plateau, was supposed to get more snow.
That's nothing new for them. They get a lot of snow.
But the winds, about 35 miles an hour had shifted unexpectedly from the West to the South West which brought all of two feet of snow our way here in Watertown.
People here, unlike in Atlanta, Georgia, are used to tons of snow.
Northern New York has many plows and sanders because we get lots of snow for 6 months of the year.
Just thought I'd share with those of you in the South what our normal day in Winter is like.

When I lived in Oklahoma, a half inch of snow would close schools and businesses.
So I can empathize with those of you in the South that don't see snow that much.
Take a look at these videos and photos and be glad that your snow is the exception and not the norm.
Liberty1955 - Cliff Olney
Watertown, NY

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