Severe weather can come in different forms and can be a terrifying experience. In 2009, I found myself in a scary situation.
It wasn’t relentless rains, a tornado, flash flood or even a hurricane. It was snow and plummeting temperatures in early December.
I usually keep up with the weather forecast, but this particular winter I was living south of Fremont, Iowa. My home was in the country away from social media or cable.
Temperatures were warm for December that morning. I left for work wearing a fall jacket. I did not bring gloves or a stocking hat.
When I got to work, people were talking about the possibility of a strong arctic front that was due to arrive in the late afternoon. I began asking questions about the pending storm.
Meteorologists called for a quick dump of snow followed by an arctic front. I wasn’t too concerned. Most of the drive home was paved except for a one mile stretch of gravel.
As I left Ottumwa for my way home, the winds were howling and snow was blowing across the road. When I reached gravel, conditions deteriorated quickly.
About a quarter of a mile down the road, windswept snow had caused drifts to form. I plowed through a few of them before hitting a drift that stopped the car in its tracks.
The drift covered the width of the road and was at least 30 foot long which made it difficult to see. I was stuck with no help in sight and temperatures had plummeted to nearly zero degrees.
I had two choices: I could stay in the car or walk home. I chose the latter, which nearly took my life.
I could see a shimmer of light coming from a window of the house. I got out of the car and began walking.
Halfway home, I became disorientated. My vision began to fade and all I could see were bright yellow dots, similar to what you might experience when you shut your eyes tightly after staring at a bright light. But my eyes were open.
I stopped walking for a second and found that I had drifted off the road and was trudging through a snow-covered field. Frantically, I looked again for the lighted window and found it.
Marching like a soldier, I headed toward the light in knee-deep snow. I could barely see at this point. In what seemed like an eternity, I reached the light and found my way to the front door where I nearly collapsed. I made it.
This harrowing experience taught me to always be prepared and be alert to weather conditions. It can change quickly any time of the year. Especially in the winter.