Stories to tell

| 22 Nov 2018 | 10:48

By Nancy Kriz
At water coolers, conference tables or in cafeterias, motorists stuck in the Nov. 15 snowstorm of last week were still talking about their not-so excellent adventures in getting home this week.
Incredulous, and often livid, about the commuting nightmare associated with the historically rare mid-November storm, many gave up wondering how so many meteorologists got the forecast wrong and instead spoke about snow-covered roads and the alleged driving abilities (or lack thereof) of motorists which caused huge log jams.
This Nor’easter was one for the record books. The last time a storm of this magnitude occurred in mid-November was 126 years ago.
And despite the equipment that exists today, roads were probably in just as bad shape at the height of the storm as one would think they’d be in 1982.
Eight to 13 inches“It looks like our region received anywhere from eight to 13 inches of snow from the event … based off ‘Intel’ from our followers,” the hyperlocal website First Due Weather from the Compound wrote on its site. “We forecasted eight to 12 inches for the Orange County area and everyone thought we were over-medicated.”
Being accurate is one thing, but not being prepared is another.
“It most looks like a third world nation with all the abandoned and crashed cars off so many different roadways,” FDW wrote. “The state roads were like driving off-road and had major ruts from packed snow.”
Snowfall totals, as reported to the National Weather Service, included nine inches in Monroe; 9.2 inches in Middletown; 10.2 inches in Highland Mills; and 10.2 inches in Goshen.
Area schools dismissed students early enough that they were delivered back to their homes well before the first snowflakes fell.
“It was a horrible trip home from Jersey for me yesterday (Nov. 15),” wrote Karen Gagliard. “People were stuck all over the place and it was like driving through an obstacle course. And three times, I had to stop to just clean off my windshield.”
Gagliard’s trip may sound mild compared to others.
Social media posters told tales of sitting for hours and hours and hours in traffic. Posted videos and photos showed stalled and stuck cars, trucks and buses.
Nearly eight hours laterIf you knew someone who commuted to any work place in the tri-state area, that person had a similar story to tell, with varying degrees of frustration and disgust.
“My journey began … from Exit 15 in Stony Point onto the Palisades Parkway at 4:15 p.m.,” wrote Marybeth Maliano, who got home seven hours and 45 minutes after she left her office. “One lane of cars and vehicles strewn everywhere was frightening but the nightmare began on Route 6, after one mile of slow moving traffic came to a halt. It’s understandable to close the road, since traffic could go nowhere because of multiple accidents but here’s the real problem: People are crazy.”
Maliano said there was a line of traffic which went on for miles, with people driving in the oncoming lane “only to collide with the idiots that tried to turn around obviously trying to go nowhere.”
“Of course, a plow could not get anywhere near to plow out anyone,” Maliano said. “Cars, buses and even an ambulance were buried. Hopefully, no one had a real emergency other than being aggravated, inconvenienced and, like myself, scared that one of those maniacs would crash into us. Thanks to those who handled this emergency situation.”
More than three hours laterSandra Dunlap wrote about a similar situation.
“As I already had problems getting up the hill out of our parking area in Thiells, I decided to leave my car at work and ride home with a co-worker who lived near me,” she wrote. “Having already had negative experiences on the Palisades and Route 6 in this type of weather, we decided against that route. Normally, the PIP/Route 6 route home in clear weather takes about 25 minutes, to give you an idea of the distance we were driving (12 miles using that route).”
The Thruway was also not looking promising, as Dunlap and her co-worker would have needed to get on the southbound Palisades to access the Thruway.
Her boss had called to tell them to not do it, as he was stuck on it.
“We opted for Route 202 through Suffern to 17 North, to 17M,” Dunlap wrote. “We left work at 4:30 p.m. All along Route 202 there were cars stuck, cars in ditches, one down a small embankment. Near Montebello, there was a Coach bus and a fuel tanker truck both off on the side of the road. As we headed toward 17 North (and all along 17 North) we were passing numerous vehicles that were stuck or had spun out. I finally made it into my house at 7:45 p.m. - three hours and 15 minutes after leaving Thiells.”
‘You’re on the map now, buddy’FDW was the only regional weather site to be spot-on with its forecast, beating out nationally recognized sites.
In fact, more than 2,500 people joined the existing base of FDW Facebook followers last week, bring those who want to know what the hyperlocal forecast is in the greater Monroe area to more than 5,300 as of this past Monday.
The now faithful FDW followers heaped praise on the site’s amateur meteorologist, who intends to stay anonymous, though the prognostication guru is known only to only a few.
“I told all my coworkers what you were predicting,” wrote Damian Colavito, on the site. “They laughed. (At) 2:30 a.m. this morning, they weren’t laughing. You should have your own program on cable. You’re on the map now, buddy.”
Added JoAnne Velez: “Well done, FDW. Been following you over a year, never let me down. Cannot say the same for other weather channels or DOT … major fail in preparing for this snow event.”
The Orange County Emergency Management office, via its Facebook page, said the issue wasn’t with the plows.
“The traffic accidents from the slick roads and people driving too fast for conditions have caused significant back-ups and the plows can’t get through,” the site said. “They have to go up the roads from the other direction, but they need the tow trucks first. The tow trucks have to pull the cars out of the road that were in the accidents before the plows can even do anything. And as soon as we do open a lane, people are so frustrated that they speed through, spin out, get stuck and we have to start all over again.”
Follow First Due Weather from the Compound on Facebook for regular weather updates and forecasts.