Well, I certainly had an experience today. Something I have never experienced before and hope to never experience again! Let me explain.
I left the house early afternoon, going to the Gallery for a while. It was bright and sunny, with a temperature around 37, so I grabbed my denim Levi jacket to wear over my sweater. The forecast was for some light snow or snow showers in the evening, so I thought that would be sufficient as a coat. I spent a couple hours at the gallery, leaving shortly after 4:00. the sky had darkened and clouded over, as one might expect. I went across the street to pick up a few things for baking this weekend, and as I exited the market, there were some snow flakes falling. They were fairly large, but very sparse. I thought, good timing!
I made one more stop at a barbecue place to get some ribs for dinner, and visited with the owner for perhaps ten minutes. When I came out my truck was lightly covered with snow and the fall had obviously picked up for momentum. Again, I thought, I should just have time to get home.
I drove about three blocks, turned onto the highway for another half mile, and as I topped the hill, I was hit with a blizzard! No kidding, I couldn't see more than a few feet in front of the car! It was coming down like crazy with a wind blowing it straight toward my windshield. the road was white, but it was still visible, and I was driving just about 20 or 25 miles per hour, so I was OK.
Another mile and I turned onto the gravel road, a shortcut across the mesa. I debated about taking the highway, but this road is my normal route, and it would be as inclined to be packed as the paved roads. I had to travel between 5 and 15 MPH, however, because the snow fall increased at this time. It was coming directly toward me, and I couldn't see diddly-squat! Every couple minutes I had to blink my eyes to see. I literally felt as if I were blind much of the time. I know now what a "white out" is. It is not fun. Not in the least.
I had to resort to looking at the side of the road to know where I was. I could see the ditch on the left side, and as long as I met no other vehicles, I was OK. I putted along at this slow speed and watched the ditch, driving essentially down the middle of the road. Occasionally I would have a few seconds with no idea where I was on the road, then I'd see the ditch and sigh inwardly.
I stopped a couple times and cleared the snow from the windshield wipers. It was caking up, turning to ice and not clearing the windows well at all. The temperature had definitely dropped. When I got home it was just 22 degrees. Yep it was much cooler than when I left home. And I had only the light denim jacket in the car.
While this was going on, I realized that if I made a mistake, if I wound up in a ditch, I would be in real trouble. As I said, the jacket was light. And I was in an area where the cell phone signal drifted in and out every few yards. I might not even be able to call for help. Yeah, I could have a problem. Therefore, staying on the road took on a whole new importance.
As I passed various landmarks, I was relieved to know where I was and that I was making progress, but it was maddeningly slow. I wasn't panicked at all, but I was certainly alert and processing every detail. What would I do with the dogs if I stalled? There are only two houses on the road, so getting to one of them would be a challenge. I had boots, gloves, and an "space blanket in the car; would that be enough?
About 50 to 100 yards from the highway (I really don't know because I couldn't tell where I was most of the time) the snow became so heavy that I couldn't see anything. At all. Nada. I couldn't see the road, the ditch, zip. All I could do was slow to a creep and pray. Then I saw a sign that told me I was just feet from the highway. Whew!
On the highway I had an advantage. The wind was coming from the side now, and while the snow was still falling at an incredible rate, I could actually see ahead far enough to be reasonably relaxed. Just over a mile on the highway, then I turned into the wind again, but the snow fall seemed to ease up a bit. It was at least enough that I could see where I was going, at least most of the time. Another 1-3/4 mile got me home.
I had between three and four inches of snow here at home. I got the kids out of the car and into the house, put on a coat, and went back out to bring in the groceries and ribs. Geez, was it good to be home!! I wasn't any worse for the wear, but home just got quite a bit sweeter! I looked at the clock and realized that it took me over an hour to drive home from town. It's only nine miles!
The ribs were good.
I'm in bed.
PS - If you live East of me, look out!!