Snow Day Preparations


Growing up on Flamingo, not much got us more excited than a forecast of snow. A week before the event, meteorologists would let us know of “possible” winter weather or that “conditions are right” for snow.

Closer to the snow date, their warnings got more concerning: “…a mixture of rain and snow is likely.”

On the night before the event, the trifecta of winter snowstorm warnings came forth from beleaguered meteorologists. “Rain, snow, and sleet — accumulations of 1 to 2 inches on streets, bridges, and trees is expected. Don’t travel unless absolutely necessary!”

When any of us kids on Flamingo heard this, traveling outdoors to play on the snow-frozen street wasn’t necessary. It was mandatory. Looking back, I realize the way you prepare for snow events is different depending on whether you’re a kid or an adult.

Five days before the snow event, we kids on Flamingo made sure everyone knew snow was coming. Outside of school, we walked up and down Flamingo telling everybody about the possibility of snow. At school, more kids got sent to the office for talking in class than any other time during the year, but it was worth it.

It doesn’t snow every year in Georgia, so being sent to the office because you want everyone to start getting ready wasn’t a bad thing; it was a civic duty for a kid. And that’s what I told my mom when she had to sign my office note.

Our parents started to prepare for snow on day five also. Dad filled the gas cans in the garage and checked to see if we had any bags of salt for the driveway and sidewalks left from the last time it snowed. Mom did laundry and started to cook, “If we’re going to be snowed in, we got to have clean clothes and food.”

Four days before snow, us kids started building our sleds. Dad always had scraps of wood from his many building projects and didn’t mind us using it. We also cut up the giant refrigerator box we’d been saving from the summer and made two toboggans. Our sleds had undersized wood handbrakes on either side; the toboggans had no brakes — both proved problematic on snow day.

Four days before snow, Dad searched the basement one more time before giving up and driving to the hardware store to buy more salt bags. On the way home, he stopped by the Farmer’s Market and loaded up on fresh fruit, potatoes, and peanuts. Mom got out blankets from the cedar chest, pulled mittens, gloves, and stocking caps from the top of closets, and started to clean the house, “Don’t want a dirty house if we’re going to be snowed in.”

Three days before, weather forecasters sounded more dire. “Our prediction is 1-2 inches of snow. Possible snow and ice mixture. Black ice possible.” At that, we all got really excited. We had only seen regular clear ice, none of us kids knew ice could be black.

When Mom said, “Did you hear, honey? They’re predicting two inches of snow, possible power outages,” Dad started splitting wood for our fireplace. The rest of the day he split wood and us boys stacked it in the garage. Mom and The Sister went to the grocery store and bought a week’s worth of groceries, including four gallons of milk and six loaves of white bread plus lots of candles and new batteries for our flashlights.

Two days before the great blizzard, Bubba Hanks and Goofy Steve made their now famous Disk of Death from a metal trashcan lid. We got buckets to hold snowballs for the impending snowball battle, plastic trash bags so we could wrap our feet and hands to keep them dry, and shovels to build our snow forts.

Our parents kept listening to the radio, watching the nightly update on the TV, and exchanging worried looks. As kids, we didn’t understand why they worried so much about snow. Snow was fun.

The day before the monster blizzard hit Flamingo, the greatest thing happened – they closed school, the best sign there was indeed going to be a snowstorm!

None of us kids slept that night from the excitement. Later I learned that our parents didn’t sleep either. They were worried about keeping us all safe. They filled all the sinks and bathtubs, and empty milk jugs with water.

The blizzard hit Flamingo during the night dumping almost 2 inches of snow. In the morning we had no power, but us kids didn’t care. Out each window was a blanket of white, and the trees were bent over under the weight of ice that covered the pine needles, creating a winter wonderland.

All day we played outside making snowmen, building snow forts, and having snowball fights. No one got hurt. All day Dad moved wood from the garage to the living room fireplace, kept the fire stoked and the house warmed. Mom made sure we all were fed, and at the end of the day, we had a warm bath heated by buckets of water on the fireplace hearth. Dad added wood to the fire all night and Mom stayed up helping him. For us kids the great blizzard that hit Flamingo was a wonderful childhood memory — not so much for Mom and Dad.

The Wife and I prepared for the winter storm that hit this last weekend, just like our parents had, but also made sure our granddaughters were prepared. We bought a new two-seater toboggan, a plastic Disk of Death, and three snowball makers – two for the girls and one for us.

We may be grandparents, but we still love playing in the snow. So how did our household fare during the winter storm? Well, that’s a story for next week. 

[Rick Ryckeley has been writing stories since 2001.]