Sunday, December 26, 2010

My harrowing experience driving in the blizzard


By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Up to 20 inches of snow – depending on where you are. Gale force winds with gusts of up to 55 miles an hour.
“This really is dangerous,” summarized New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose city is in the storm’s bullseye.
Airports have been canceling flights. The Minnesota Vikings game at the Philadelphia Eagles was postponed to Tuesday due to the snow. All New Jersey Transit bus service has been canceled statewide. And Amtrak canceled all trains between New York and Boston.
I can attest to how dangerous it is, because I foolishly attempted to drive the Garden State Parkway through Monmouth County, New Jersey. In more than 40 years of driving – most of it in Michigan – I’ve never been frightened on the roadways before. Tonight, for the first time, I must admit I found myself fighting off panic.
Blinding conditions as the wind sent the snow flying horizontally, coupled with ice forming on my windshield and wipers, and no way to see a plowed shoulder to pull over to clear off the ice, made for a tense drive.
In one quarter mile stretch alone I saw three separate incidents where cars had slid or driven off the roadway – the latter something that wasn’t hard to do because of the near zero visibility.
In fact, driving blind is not an overstatement. I actually missed my exit, though I was creeping along on the shoulder at less than 5 miles per hour. I concluded that the exit ramp hadn’t been plowed and if there were tire tracks in the snow I was oblivious to it.
Driving on surface streets, where there are street lights, lit store signs and landmarks – not to mention parking lots you one can pull into to clear the ice from the windshield – was a bit safer way to travel – though not really advisable.
A normally 20 minute drive lasted two hours – and that wasn’t the end of the ordeal as I had to shovel a spot clear in order to park when I reached my destination – that alone took an additional 20 minutes.
And at the time of this writing the bulk of the snow hasn’t even fallen yet!
Gary Baumgarten is director of News and Programming at the Paltalk News Network.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

glad you are safe