Yesterday in DC we experienced something called ThunderSnow. Yes, my friends, this is a real entity. It’s a thunderstorm, except instead of rain there is snow and sleet. This was not the worst part, though. I’m sure I would have enjoyed it had I been at home. But alas, most Washingtonian’s had to work considering it was Wednesday. And the Thundersnow started around 2pm.
My commute home from work usually takes me between 20 and 30 minutes depending on traffic. Last night it took me 5 and a half hours. Read that again. 5 and a half hours. And that wasn’t even the longest commute recorded. When I heard on the radio this morning that there were people stranded on the GW Parkway for 13 hours
I felt a little better about the situation I had been in.
So now for the traumatizing parts. My car, while it is a Trooper in every way, if very old and temperamental. If it idles too long it over heats. I just told you I was stuck for over 5 hours, my car was not happy. Although, on the bright side (I guess), there were stretches of 30-45 minutes with no movement what so ever, so I could turn my car off and give it a rest.
For part of this fiasco, I was stranded on a bridge, ThunderSnow all around me, car overheating, becoming claustrophobic. When finally over the bridge and at the intersection that would, in theory, take me home, I was told that there were too many cars stuck on the hill and they were redirecting everyone to the only other road available. And then no one moved for hours. There was an accident and everyone was trapped. Literally. Canal Rd in Washington, DC is a narrow road with a canal on one side and a mountain on the other. Walking home was not an option, and there was no where to go. There was absolutely nothing I could do to improve the situation.
Several fellow travelers followed my lead and turned their cars off to conserve gas. We were stuck without food, water, restrooms, constant heat, or the hope of getting home. Cell phone batteries waned. For hours. I was so aggravated I almost cried when the firemen told us we had to somehow figure out how to turn around and go back the way we came. I had to pee so badly I tried to go in my empty coffee mug from that morning. I failed and ended up having to hold it. My roommate informed me while I was stuck that there was no power at our house. There were 2 trees and a power line down right outside. It was also aggravating to call the city’s 311 line to have a recording tell you that there “is not a snow emergency.” If having thousands of commuters trapped for up to 13 hours isn’t a snow emergency, I’m not sure what is.
I learned that I need to pack blankets to have in my car at all times. And shoes I could walk in snow with (I was in flats). Having some non perishable foods and drinks would also help. My experience was less traumatic than some other travelers’, but I am now going to plan for anything like this to happen again. Being prepared is the best thing you can do. Getting pissed at DC for knowing this was coming and not being prepared is the next best thing.