A Jersey Girl In A Winter Storm in Texas

By
I moved here from New Jersey about 7 years ago, one of the reasons being that I was really tired of the long cold and snowy winters.
On Friday, February 27, I had a photography/photoshop workshop to attend at the Arlington Convention Center.  The night before, I saw that there was bad weather predicted for the DFW area.  They said the snow would start after 9am and it would warm up later in the day so it shouldn’t impact the commute home.   So I decided to put the dogs in the kennel for Doggie Day Camp and then I would fill the car up with gas and head out to Arlington early.  Arlington is about 24 miles from where I live and it normally takes about 30-35 mins.
 
I dropped the dogs off at in the morning at 7 am at Pet Smart, filled up my car with gas, (It was about 3/4 full, but I wanted to make sure that if I got stuck that I would have enough gas to keep the car running to stay warm), then I went back home to get some things and thenleft for Arlington at 8am.   The snow started just when I left the house, it was a light snow, the kind of snow that, in New Jersey, would mean a pretty heavy snowfall would come, a very fine and steady sort of snow.  The trip there was fine, no snow on the roads and no traffic.  
I got to the photography workshop by about 8:30 or so… registered, got my seat, had some coffee… and waited until 10 when it started… I had my iPad and phone so I was just reading through facebook for awhile.  A friend of mine texted me around 9:30 and said the roads were a mess and that I should go home now. I coundn’t imagine the roads being as bad as she was saying because I just got there not too long ago and other than the very fine snow falling from the sky, there was nothing. The roads were very clear.  The workshop didn’t start until 10.  I started to see traffic reports on my facebook page with overturned cars and a lof of reports of cars spinning out and stranded.  Then some other facebook friends telling me how bad the roads were.  They got bad so quickly!
Anyway, I figured that it would get better as the day warmed up and thought that by 4 when I planned on leaving it would be ok.
Well, conditions were just deteriorating, everyone was telling me to leave now (the only way to get home from Arlington is by highway, there are no local roads to get home).   Anyway, I prepaid for lunch when I arrived so I thought I’d wait for that, and I really wanted to see the part of the workshop that was right after lunch.  During the morning break at around 11am, I saw on facebook what a mess the roads were.
So about 11:45 (the lunch break was at 12:15) I got a call from Pet Smart that they were closing at 5 and doggie day camp was cancelled. They had a skeleton crew there and the dogs were ok in their cage, but to come get them before 5 or else they would have to stay in the kennel overnight.  So I left and went to pick up my lunch (I’m glad I did that, I was starved and it ended up being a very long ride home)… went to the ladies room (another smart move) and then left. It was noon by the time I left…. 
So this was my car (I don’t have a scraper, but luckily the snow was wet and I used my glove to remove snow from the car before I took off)…
 

The traffic was just crawling… I finally got onto I30 West and the roads were just wet, but traffic was hardly moving.  I was thinking to myself how crazy this is…this kind of weather never would have shut down NJ…  It looks icy in the picture below, but it was really just slushy and wet…  traffic was stopped so I took a picture with my phone.

 Then, by the time I got to Beach St in Fort Worth, it was ice and the traffic was really at a standstill.   All along I30, cars were stranded… some turned around, some damaged from hitting the divider… but for some reason, every car and truck I saw was abandoned.  Why?  Where did the people go?  I would never leave my car abandoned!
In the photo above, the roads were icy… traffic was stopped and only moving at about 5mph when we did move.  I still had about 14 miles to go to get home. 
I was already in the car for about 2 hrs.  My right shin started to cramp up (probably from a combination of a lot of dancing the previous two nights and hardly moving it while I was sitting in traffic)… I was having trouble pushing on the gas pedal and brake… I had my Ugg’s on and I think they may have restricted movement.  I wasn’t sure what to do, I was in the middle lane and wanted to get over to the right so I could stop the car and move my leg, but there was no break in the traffic where I could move over. I kept massaging it and trying to move my ankle, and then thought “OH… unzip the boot” and, ahh, that let me move my leg which helped the cramp.   It eventually went away.
So every so often the traffic would ease up a bit and we could speed ahead at 15 mph (which actually felt fast).  I noticed that pickup trucks drove faster… there was a red pickup truck that passed me on the left (at a point when traffic was moving along at 15mph.. he must have been speeding at about 25mph) and then cut across the 3 lanes to weave in and out to get ahead… well, he paid for that, up ahead he was stranded on the grass.. I’m not sure what happened but the truck was sideways and the driver was out of the truck walking around, there didn’t seem to be any damage to the truck.
Then a big 18 wheeler passed at another point… that one was a little scary, he was weaving in and out across 3 lanes and then ended up back in the middle.. thankfully nothing happened there, but he should have been more careful.  I lost sight of that truck and then by the time I finally got to the downtown Fort Worth mixmaster area, where I30 and 35W meet, I noticed to the right that traffic was all stopped on the ramp to I35, people were getting out of their cars and the road was closed… on I30 (where I was), I was on one of those elevated highway overpasses by Terrell and heard tires spinning…  just up ahead, the truck that was passing, was in the middle lane and not moving… (I think it was a moving sized truck not an 18 wheeler like I thought, but then I don’t really know much about trucks), to the left, there was a BMW with spinning tires… (rear wheel drive, I’m sure).. and another car in front of that.. both cars were facing every which way…  then to the right of the truck some other car having trouble…  
I put myself into Jersey mode (after years of driving in bad weather you learn how to drive in snow and icy roads as well as possible) and switched my car to manual mode (my Audi has automatic and manual shift modes, similar to a manual tranmission but you don’t need a clutch and it won’t stall if you don’t step on the clutch to change gears) and I put the car in 1st gear (I was going slow enough to drive in 1st) and weaved in and out of the mess of cars spinning their wheels and the truck to get around it… somehow I did, holding my breath hoping that one of the cars didn’t hit me.  The rest of the highway after that was such an icy mess… these elevated highways are treacherous in the bad weather… (I wished I could take a picture of this, but getting through this safely was much more important to me).
Up ahead, two more cars, one with heavy damage, were on either sides of the road.. abandoned… I still don’t get the abandoning… where did these people go?
So just over 3 hours later (for a trip that normally takes about 35 mins), I got to Pet Smart to get the dogs.    They were so excited!  Pet Smart didn’t charge anything for the day camp since they had to cancel it due to the weather.
When we got home, I pulled out my NJ snow shovel (I’m probably one of the few in Fort Worth with a snow shovel) and decided to shovel the driveway.  I learned my lesson last year, everyone said the snow will melt in a day.. well, it didn’t and 3 days later I was chipping 3-4″ of ice in my driveway and around the pool.
The dogs loved playing in the snow (I know, it doesn’t look like much here).
In the photo on the right, I already shoveled part of the driveway, that’s why there isn’t any snow in the foreground, and it was a heavy wet snow with a layer of almost ice underneath.
The Jersey Girl part of me took over and I shoveled the whole driveway, front, back and by the pool… again, I’m probably the only person in Fort Worth that even attempted to do this… it was so cold (26 degrees) but if I didn’t do this, it would freeze over and would be thick ice in the morning.  I had heavy gloves on but the tips of my fingers felt like I had frostbite.
Rachel (my daughter) and Kyle (her husband) were driving here from Midland (about 5 hrs west of Fort Worth) for her birthday, but they (thankfully) decided to stay home and they decided to drive up in the morning instead. Tom (my husband) was driving up from Austin, but decided to stay in a Holiday Inn, although he ended up missing the exit and next thing he knew, he as 24 miles from home, so he just decided to keep going.  He said that highway traffic on 35W and I20 was blocked because of accidents and he got rerouted (from his GPS) and somehow found backroads and made it home.
So, I finished shoveling the back around the pool and the back driveway.  (Back in New Jersey you would never see pools open this time of year, but down here in Texas, we don’t need to close them.   My pool has a freeze protection device on the filter which will turn the filter on if the temperature gets down to freezing, so the pool pipes shouldn’t freeze up).

The snow itself was about 3-4″ deep and powdery on the grass (on the streets and driveway it was more of a wet snow) and my poor pansies were covered (that’s another thing you wouldn’t see back in Jersey…  flowers in the winter).
After about an hour and a half I finished the back and the front driveway…
When I finished,I thought that maybe I would do some sewing since I was home for the nigh, but instead,  I came inside and had an Amy’s Pizza (not bad for frozen pizza) and a glass of red wine… I turned on the news and watched the mess.  I saw the truck that was stuck on I30 and Terrell that I passed… I was one of the lucky ones, it seemed as if sometime after I passed, others got stuck and there was a backup.
So now I’m back at home with my dogs… Tom made it home sometime after 6:30.   I see on TV now that the roads are still very bad.  I saw that there were hundreds of accidents yesterday mostly minor accidents because traffic was at a crawl.  In Dallas there was nearly 500 accidents!  That’s not including Fort Worth (and for those of you who are not from here, Dallas and Fort Worth are two very separate cities).
(Bentley was sitting on the chair watching TV, but he turned around when he heard me come from behind to take a picture with my phone.
I moved here from NJ to escape this … we don’t get it often, but when we do, it paralyzes the whole area.  I never really understood how something that looks so insignificant to us from up north could be so treacherous down south, but now that I live here, I get it!   We aren’t equipped for it because it doesn’t make sense to spend so much on snow removal equipment, and even just a slight snowstorm can turn to ice on those elevated highways that we have.   NJ doesn’t have anything like that.  We also get more ice storms rather than snow, New Jersey gets more snow, and it’s easier to get traction in snow.  No matter what, you really cannot get traction on ice.  My car is all wheel drive (I would have nothing less) and while nothing really works on ice, all wheel drive is a bit better than rear wheel drive, or even front wheel drive.
So today, Rachel and Kyle are planning on coming from Midland, the roads are still very bad, but hopefully the ice will melt as the sun comes up.  Rachel’s birthday is tomorrow and we had plans this morning to go for a mani/pedi… I changed the appointment until 1:00 this afternoon, and then we have a makeup appointment at 5:00 at Sephora… but all of that depends upon the weather.  Her birthday present never arrived this past week, I still have something for her, but with the ice storm on Monday (yes that was another mess, but it happened overnight and most people stayed home), the delivery was postponed until yesterday, but that never happened because of the weather and UPS sent me a notice that it will be delivered on Tuesday now.
From the looks of it, I’m not even sure that Rachel and Kyle will be coming at all today. Right now there is freezing drizzle which can make the roads even worse.   
So I’m ready for Spring… actually I’m ready for summer… 
Thank you all for reading this!
 
Laura