Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Winter Weather Advisory

I was one of the Christmas travelers that braved the wintry weather last Tuesday to try and make it to a family holiday gathering. If weather is a factor I will usually put off traveling, but in this case we had a winter weather advisory in place with a winter weather warning issued for the following day.

With city streets snow-covered and slippery I didn’t hold out much hope for Highway 41. The butterflies got going in my stomach and pretty much remained with me through my 4-½ hour trip. The forecast the previous evening gave me the impression that the further north I traveled the better the conditions would be. Well they were wrong.

During the trip I saw at least 50 cars in the ditches along Highway 41 on both the north and southbound sides. I tried to imagine how fast they were going and whether they literally flew off the road. Some were freshly off the road because I could see people still in them. Sixty-five is the speed limit on Highway 41, but I rarely approached that as cars and trucks creeped along around 50 miles and hour and some times closer to 20 depending on whether law enforcement officials were responding to a traffic accident.

Probably the worst was just north of Green Bay. There was a six to ten car pileup on the southbound side of the highway. It was tough to make out how many cars and trucks were involved because I was trying to keep an eye on my side of the road. However I did make out a couple of ambulances and at least six squad cars. Further north traffic was diverted off the southbound lanes. I hope no one was seriously injured, but some of the cars looked pretty bad.

Conditions didn’t improve much as I moved through the southern portion of the U.P. I slowed down as semis approached in the opposite lane because they were throwing up so much blowing snow that it was difficult to see in their wake. Eventually I got behind a utility truck with a cherry picker on the back of it. When it got several car lengths ahead of me I could only see its taillights glowing. It kept me company for about 25 miles to the outskirts of my hometown.

When I arrived at my Mom’s home I looked over my car. The back end was coated with snow and there was no way you could see the license plate on back. Had I gone into the ditch it would have been difficult to figure out whom the car belonged to from a distance. Fortunately that wasn’t the case. I had to battle through bad conditions on my way back to Fond du Lac several days later too. A winter weather advisory was issued that morning as well. Some of the cars I saw in the ditch on my way to the U.P. were still there. That’s not much of a Christmas gift for those unfortunate souls.

For New Year’s the longest trip I plan is to my refrigerator. Happy New Year’s!

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