Stuck In A Snowstorm: Not Quite What We Planned

Have you ever heard about those people who get stranded on the interstate during a major snowstorm?

The story usually makes the national news. And if you’re anything like me you’ve wondered “how exactly does that happen?” Unfortunately, I had that question answered. Here’s the story of some quite unexpected events on our vacation…

Exactly 3 years ago my family was on a vacation and driving home. We were heading north through Virginia, and admittedly, snow was in the forecast. We stopped for lunch in the pouring rain. The temperature was holding steady in the high 30’s. I distinctly remember the feeling of disappointment knowing we would not get the snowstorm everyone was predicting.

Not long after getting back on the interstate we noticed the rain changing to sleet. Being an Atlanta Girl, I panicked and insisted that we find a place to stop. Brent agreed quickly (which is completely unheard of!) so I knew the roads had to be getting slippery.

Road conditions went from fine to horrible in a matter of seconds and as we were looking for an exit the traffic came to a complete stop…and about that time it started to snow. Hard.

It didn’t take long to realize that we had become one of those trapped motorists in the middle of a major snowstorm. In less than an hour, 4 inches of snow had fallen. There were about 8 inches of snow when it started getting dark, and over a foot before the snowstorm stopped.

In super dramatic fashion I could paint out all of the details of our 10+ hours trapped in our car with a 1-year old and a 5-year old (because honestly, at times, it did feel VERY dramatic)…but the bottom line is that we obviously lived through it.

So rather than tell a story with an obvious ending, I will outline a few things I learned from our little experience:

All of these will start “If you’re driving and there is ANY possibility of snow or bad road conditions…”

  1. … keep your gas tank full! Our car got cold much more quickly than I would have imagined. It was a huge relief to be able to turn our car on often. Not only were we able to heat our car and charge our cell phones, but we also kept the windshield wipers on. As quickly as we turned our car off, the windows would be covered with snow. Not being able to see out of our windows was torture (and I wouldn’t consider myself highly claustrophobic normally!)
  2. …pack snacks! In light of all of the starving people in the world, I don’t want to make TOO big a deal of my 10 hour misfortune, but let’s just say a half a can of Pringles and two baby food pouches don’t go very far split between 4 people. We actually had to explain the concept of rationing to our 5-year old. It was a weird experience. And then when we were “rescued” we took our kids to Waffle House at midnight…and that was even weirder. Just pack your own snacks if you anticipate any chance of a snowstorm.
  3. …it won’t hurt to have water in your car. In our case, I think we probably could have eaten snow if we got desperate. But it was nice to have water bottles for all of us in the car.
  4. …have a few blankets in the car too. Although we were able to keep our car on a lot because of our full tank of gas, we did try to conserve. Especially since we didn’t know how long we were going to be stuck, we didn’t want to run out! Blankets would have been awesome to have in our car. We ended up getting into the suitcase and using sweaters and dirty clothes to cover up with.
  5. …have something you can all pee in. I’m super hesitant to share this because frankly, it’s really just TMI. But, if I’m being honest, I will say that having a small cooler in our car was definitely a saving grace. I’m really not sure what we would have done without it. And for the record, we don’t own that cooler anymore!
  6. …keep your seat belts buckled. I know it sounds a little crazy, but as much as possible we tried to keep our kids buckled in their seats. Throughout our ordeal cars would occasionally try to maneuver their way out of the situation and that resulted in TONS of accidents from cars sliding into each other.

As we sat trapped in our car on a mountain in a blizzard, Brent and I kept looking at each other saying “well, this will make for a good story some day.” While I certainly would never wish this situation on anyone, I do hope that if you find yourself traveling in winter weather you will be able to use some of these tips.

You might also enjoy reading:

Montana Misadventure

The Time I Jumped Out of An Airplane

How NOT to Let Weather Ruin Your Travel

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  1. […] then again, I also used to wonder how people could get stuck on the interstate during a blizzard until it happened to […]

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