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When The Weather Outside Gets Frightful

January 5, 2016
by Jane Whitmore , Emmetsburg News

Winter travel has its challenges. Holiday winter travel is downright baffling.

Leaving Emmetsburg a few days before Christmas, it was 27-degrees and a bit foggy. The drive to the Des Moines airport was uneventful. Parked in a lot near the airport and decided the weather had been so nice, no need to sign up for the "warm-up-your-car" offer when returning from the sunny south.

A few hours later, landed in sunny San Antonio where the temperature was in the upper 70s. There I was, standing outside in black pants and a sweater. It was hot!

Rushing around the city looking for last-minute gifts and groceries, the temperatures were still in the 70s. Stores and restaurants had their air conditioners running full blast. Long sleeves seemed appropriate, thank goodness, since that was what was in my suitcase.

Christmas day was sunny and warm, and we spent the majority of the day indoors - opening gifts, fixing dinner and enjoying family and friends. What a special day.

The day after (Boxing Day), we traveled to Gruene (pronounced Green) where we enjoyed lunch with family from Austin. We walked around the touristy little town with the oldest dance hall in Texas. People flock to Gruene for a little boot scootin'. It's such a fun place to visit.

It may have been Saturday when the weather started to change. The temperatures were a little cooler, with predictions of heavy rain, high winds and overnight temperatures near freezing. The weather started moving in on Sunday, with tornadoes north of San Antonio. Plants were brought indoors and Christmas inflatables were put away for the season in anticipation of colder weather and high winds.

Monday was the kicker: snow in the Midwest and feeling precipitation and heavy rains tracking down south. I began to wonder if I would make it home on Tuesday. I got updates from Emmetsburg regarding the weather and road conditions. It sounded pretty iffy.

My flights were "on time" Tuesday, so we headed to the airport. The temperatures that morning were in the upper 30s - quite a change from the day I arrived. With a layover in Dallas, I navigated the monorail from one gate to another, then sat down to enjoy a coffee and wait until time to board

Looking around the gate area, there were cots against the wall. There were lines of people signing up for stand-by flight status. People had gotten bumped on Monday, due to weather. I watched one gate where a half-dozen stand-by people were lined up, hoping to get on a flight. As ticketed fliers came rushing forward, the person at the end of the line dropped out, dejected. This happened with several fliers and a few stand-by passengers boarded. Then the door was locked and the plane started backing out. Another passenger came running up and tried the door, but it was locked. Another dejected flier.

My flight loaded and headed north to Des Moines. We landed and entered the terminal to walk through a sea of people dressed in black and gold - all headed to Pasadena. There was plenty of snow outdoors and I thought it would have been nice to have my car warmed up when I got there.

The bus driver to the car lot said many Iowans headed to Pasadena on Monday had gotten bumped from their flight because of the snow storm. Stand-by was not an option, if the throngs of Hawkeye fans at the airport was any indication. He said some airlines were refunding plane fares. Another couple we heard about rented a car and drove to Chicago where they could get on a flight. Talk about dedicated Iowa fans!

The roads from Des Moines to Emmetsburg were in great shape, thank goodness. Got home and my driveway was cleared and, thanks to good friends, even my sidewalk was cleared of snow.

It's good to be home. Even the snow and cold are tolerable. It's easier to deal with the weather when you are home.



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