Monday, December 28, 2015

Lubbock is paralyzed—not with fear, but with snow

They say that we had a similar storm back in 1983. Well, I'm not so sure as I remember a few times that Judy and I would take out the cross-country skis and terrorize the local parks instead of going to work. But still: For a place like Lubbock, that was a monster of storm that hit us yesterday and last night.
In the days before we got hit, we were bombarded with all kind of hyperbole. Why, one could have thought that the apocalypse was imminent! Fortunately I do not watch local news and their clownish weather experts, so I was spared the worst. Nevertheless, there was quite a bit of anticipation: So when is it gonna hit? How bad is it gonna be?
On Saturday night, Tom and Trish were over for a belated Christmas feast with one of my patented Kamado-prepped turkeys. Joining us for the fun was Janet from down the street, and of course the imminent End of the World was part of the evening's conversation. The afternoon was OK, a bit nippier than the week before when we had hit spring-like temperatures, but certainly not really nasty or worse.
All of that changed abruptly when, at 21:30 hours, the sounds of the wind, which had increased in strength for quite some time, were joined by the loud clatter of falling ice. The front had arrived! Freezing rain and sleet were driving at 30+ mph from the north, pelting my garage door with the first round of ammunition. Needless to say, the guests soon left.
The wind howled all night, and in the morning things were white in those areas where the precipitation had had a chance to actually settle down. You know, in Lubbock rain and snow don't fall vertically; they follow horizontal patterns! Still, it was all a bit disappointing: All that doomsday talk for that? Janet and I shared a cup of forenoon hot tea and lambasted the quack forecasters.
And then it started snowing! The wind never stopped, but suddenly we had white-out conditions, almost out of nowhere. TXDoT had warned of "blizzard conditions" in its advisories, and that's what we had on our hands for the next 14 hours or so. I have never experienced such violent precipitation, with spindrift and falling snow indistinguishable. It snowed and snowed, and it blew and blew, and thus was born what the illustrious Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, our hometown newspaper, labeled Winter Storm Goliath.
I don't know whether the "Storm from '15" will truly enter the folklore of the South Plains, but when I awoke this morning I was stunned by the drifts in my yard. Sure, if you have lived all your life in Billings, Montana, or Buffalo, New York, then you rightfully chuckle and ask, "What storm?" But this is Texas, on the same latitude as Morocco, and we just aren't used to something like this. So give us our one day in the news!
For my part, I had already pulled out my cross-country boots last night in anticipation of a romp through the park. So, after breakfast and under a brilliant blue sky, I stepped into the bindings and headed for the park. On the way I paid a visit to Janet who chronicled the occasion by taking a pic of me in full regalia. Later we subjected her dachshund, Chase, to his first taste of snow.
It was an amusing excursion, I have to say. It is just mind-boggling how many pick-up owners as well as drivers of normal cars manage to pull out of their driveways and—get stranded! Believe or not, the drifts were not just in the backyards—duh! I spotted the first F150 just down the street from me, with the driver frantically gunning the engine in hopes of getting traction. Or some other hope. As I said, it was entertaining.
A few folks were out to clear their driveways, and a few friendly comments were thrown one way and the other. Everybody (except the bubba drivers) seemed to be happy. It felt like Sunday, even though it was Monday. Who cares? Lubbock was closed and remained so for the rest of the day. No newspaper or mail delivery, no open convenience stores, a shuttered mall, Mickey D. dark and forlorn, not an open restaurant in sight. At Bed Bath and Beyond, I saw Lubbock's tallest drift, probably five feet tall.
I skied for a little more than two hours, over to Quaker on one side, then to Slide on the other, both of them major thoroughfares. There were few signs of snow removal (they use front-end loaders and graders for this purpose here), and traffic was less than light, almost non-existent. I stopped by Smitty and Lori's place down by the park, and they hadn't ventured out yet to assess how deep the drift were around his truck. Here is the photographic evidence.
The only part of Lubbock's population that seemed unfazed were the Canada geese that populate our parks in the winter. The lake was frozen over so that they could march happily in the sun. It was a veritable Winter Wonderland.
In the afternoon I took a walk over to the post office to drop off a small package with some eBay stuff. It was about 3 o'clock, and traffic hadn't increased one bit. The Loop seemed to be snow free, with the few trucks and cars that were on the road going way too fast, in my opinion. But if you own a truck, your civic duty seems to be to show everyone in the world how large your dick is and how loudly you can roar your engine. You gotta love Texas! And you gotta love the innovative park jobs that F150 drivers come up with.
The melting process will start in earnest tomorrow, and that's when things will become messy and really dangerous. Lubbock will awaken from its paralysis, and life will once again normalize. But I am sure we'll talk about the Blizzard of 2015 for quite a while.


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