Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Few Notes from the Denver Blizzard

I originally posted this on the High Road, but Overload's comments reminded me that I should post it here as well:

After my fun 11-hour drive to-and-from Denver International Airport in the heart of the worst blizzard in a decade, I thought I might post a few pointers on SHTF scenarios.

Pay attention...we knew what we were going into, thanks to local TV, the Waether Chanel and several weather-related internet sites.

Get specialized training...both my Sweetie and I have been through the BMW Ice Driving School in Montreal; yeah, cars act hinky in ice and snow, but it doesn't mean they're not driveable.

Make sure your clothing is Sweetie and I could have walked out if we had to (it helps to have 3 IditaSport, the Feb ultramarathon in Alaska, experiences...not the first blizzard we've seen).

Have specialized gear...we were ready to go to ground if we had to. Also, make sure your car is ALWAYS topped off with gas. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your vehicle. I passed lots of dead/piled up SUVs who thought their "dedicated 4WD" could do more than it really could.

Don't stint on your lowly 4WD Honda Element is the opposite of macho, but it is equipped with dreadfully expensive Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires and I carry (and used last night) a set of Z-Chains, also expensive and worth every penny.

Make a plan, and execute same...I decided I was going to drive home, and I did. I never let myself get sucked into someone else's plan — going faster or slower, for instance. At times I was down to 1 mph, pretty much what I averaged on foot in one IditaSport, but as long as I had 10 feet of visibility, I could follow tracks.

Real World feedback is critical...through cellphones, we had people feeding us realtime info on routes, closings, etc. off television and the internet. We basically drove a strange twisting route around huge car pileups, iced unclimbable hills, closed interstates, etc.

As they say in the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy...DON'T PANIC!!!

Now I'm SNOWED IN AT HOME, but hey, the electricity's still up, and if it goes down, I've got heat, water, food, batteries, beer and ammo. I'll finally get around to watching the last episode of SURVIVOR on my laptop!

And BTW, Sean, my hat is off to you, and you make me proud. Be safe Over There, brother!


Anonymous said...

But... Did you pick up her mother?

Michael Bane said...

Yep...faithful like puppy...

She's a lot nicer than anyone in my family ever was!


Anonymous said...

Cuz, glad you made a safe trip, Happy Holidays from the Bane family in Arkansas! Rick,Sherry and Ryan.

Anonymous said...

Glad you made it all safe and sound. I did think about your journey while I watched the blizzard from my room at the Hyatt Regency downtown - the new one on 15th. Nice place, so-so food, God-awful expensive.

Anyhow, I held out hope that they would have the airport open this AM so I could get out as scheduled. I checked at 3:30AM and the flight was cancelled. No flights til next Tuesday.

No other flights anywhere near home (Bismarck, ND), so it's off to Hertz and a 700+ mile drive home through some of the most beautiful and desolate country in the upper plains.

My son was coming in on AMTRAK to Minot (2 hours north of Bismarck) on Sunday; had him push it back to Monday. It will probably be more festive anyhow. Will take your advice and add to my bug-out bag (ex-Boy Scout leader here).

Pray for open roads, and everyone have a happy, safe and warm Christmas!

Jerry The Geek said...

Michael, I think I have a photo of your car.

Health News said...

yeah truly a great site.I really enjoyed my visit.