Snowed In

East Coast blizzard a cause for inconvenience, enlightenment

By Dena Burroughs
Published on LatinoLA: February 24, 2003

Snowed In

As I sat outside Gate A10 at the Bradfield International airport in Hartfort, Connecticut, I wondered how many people in the waiting area had a story similar to mine. I was there three days after my original date, the result of getting ?snowed in? for the first time in my life.

The weather gurus had predicted snow during my visit to Connecticut over the President?s Day weekend, but I had no idea I would be seeing a blizzard.

On Sunday, when I first heard that the storm then hitting New York was bound our way in Connecticut, I skeptically looked out the window into a bright pretty day. By midnight, with the snow yet to be seen, I wondered whether it had all been just hype.

Bright and early Monday morning though, my boyfriend woke me up to the news that the snow had arrived. I peeked out the window to a thin layer of snow over everything, and a constant fall that seemed at times horizontal as pushed by the wind.

Only a few hours later, the thin layer had become about a one-foot thick cover. David and I walked to a diner around 10 a.m., just a five minute walk from the house. It was a gorgeous sight that momentarily gave me the urge to make snow angels and roll around in the snow. It only lasted a few seconds though, before good sense took over and reminded me that it was freezing cold and that it made more sense to keep dry and hurry up the pace towards the diner. Not a bad thought considering that the snow was falling so hard that I had to cover my face with my hands to stop it from hurting.

Half way to the diner we wondered whether it would even be open. Thankfully it was, and once in front of a hot cup of coffee I first considered the real chance that my flight could be cancelled. I was scheduled to leave Connecticut that afternoon at 6 p.m., and the snow didn?t seem to be slowing down.

Back at the house we turned on the radio to an announcer reading hundreds of closures of schools and work places in the locality. I was hoping he would have information on the airport activity, but did not. I needed to find out the status of my flight, and I set out to make phone calls. The U.S. Airways counter was impossible, but eventually a man from the Administration department at Bradfield International told me that the airport would be closing down at noon. A closed airport equals no flights?at least I knew that much.

I was officially ?snowed in? Connecticut, an extended vacation of sorts. The radio encouraged us to stay home and only drive if we absolutely had to. Talk about finding the real value of a TV, a VCR, and the multiple tapes of the ?Godfather?. In all honesty, there is much to be said about the guiltless feeling of staying home, with a lit fireplace, a warm cup of coffee, and watching movies all day when the snow falls unstoppably outside. By the end of the day, about two feet of snow covered the ground.

Bradfield International opened Tuesday at 6 a.m. Since U.S. Airways was forever unreachable on the phone, we headed to the airport to find out my luck. This, of course, I just made sound too easy. I should have said? David dug out the car from snow that reached up to the bottom of its windows, and then we headed to the airport to find out my luck.

?Arrivals? was a ghost town as no planes were coming in. ?Departures? had two huge lines of people all apparently in need to re-schedule their flights. By the looks of it I thought I would be lucky to fly out that evening or early the following morning.

I doubt I can realistically convey with words the astonishment I felt when I was told that there was no space available for me for another two days. While my reservation got processed for Thursday morning, I thought about my car parked on Lot C at LAX getting more expensive by the minute, of the three unscheduled PTO days coming out of my paycheck, and of the several work and family phone calls waiting to be made.

On the other hand, I also realized that if there was ever a perfect excuse to enjoy an extended vacation, a snow blizzard shutting down airports was definitely it.

Once all the must-do phone calls were taken care of, David and I set out to enjoy the next couple days. In those 48 hours I saw people do things I never even considered before. I saw a man, for example, stepping over a three-foot mount of snow trying to get to a public phone. The plow had pushed so much snow to the side of the road that the pile had reached up to the dial pad. The man was standing so high up on the snow that the keys of the phone were at a level with his knees, and so in the most uncomfortable looking position he had to first clean snow away from the phone to be able to use it. The call must not have gone through the first time, because I saw him dig even further to get back his coins.

I had a turn of my own attempting to add money to a parking meter, which was about three fourths buried in snow. It is the oddest of feelings to climb up a huge pile of snow to add money to a slot that ends up down there by your shoes. It is besides pretty funny when it finally gives in to your weight and you find your legs sunk in up to your knees!

I also now know the unnatural fear of losing a parking space. Once you dig your car out of the snow, clean out the space around it, and create a path from it to the street, the thought of coming back home to find another car parked on that same spot is just horrifying. It means you will have to create yet another parking place before going indoors, and it is no easy task.

The snow is certainly beautiful, but I doubt many of us Angelenos realize just how much work it brings to those who have to live with it!

My plane finally left Connecticut. As I sat at a fancy bar at the Philadelphia airport waiting for my connection to Los Angeles, one of my ?layers? had already been tucked away in my bag, and I knew the rest of my attire would be a bit too warm for L.A. Oh the difference a flight can make!

All things considered, getting ?snowed in? the East Coast was actually pretty fun. Aside from some unforeseen expenses, I gained more than I lost. I brought with me fabulous memories and a few more stories to tell my grandkids someday.

I will be ?Back East? soon enough again. Can?t wait to see what Mother Nature has next in store for me!

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