We woke this morning to a light dusting of snow on the trees and bushes outside.
In Buffalo, 90 miles down the road, my father woke to two feet of snow, large tree branches downed in his driveway, and no power. When I spoke to him at 8:30 this morning he was trying to figure out what he was going to do. He told me the next-door neighbor (my childhood friend Laura) was trying to find a hotel room for her family but had had no luck.
Stranded Traffic on NYS
Thruway Between Rochester and Buffalo
Photo from NYSThruway.gov
You know that Orbitz commercial that's been playing recently, the one where a flight gets cancelled and two couples compete to see who can find a hotel room faster? I felt like a contestant on that. I told him to go to Laura's house and wait for me to call them. Then I grabbed my computer and started searching. Orbitz told me that there were rooms at several airport hotels, but the hotels weren't answering their phones. So I called the 800 number for the Hampton Inn, and the very helpful reservation agent found that they actually had rooms available in a hotel that's only 1.2 miles from my father's house. I snapped up two rooms, got a confirmation number, and called them back with the good news.
Now, of course, Laura and her husband have to find a way to get the five of them (they've got two kids, around the same ages as mine) to the hotel. And I have to wait and worry about whether they'll get there safely, whether the hotel actually does have power, and whether he confirmation number actually gets them their rooms. But the Hampton reservations agent assured me that if the hotel didn't have power they'd receive immediate notification and reservations would be blocked, and the proximity of the hotel (and the fact that Laura and Vince have a 4wd truck) give me some hope for their making it there safely. And given how hard it will be for people with hotel reservations to get to the hotels at all, it seems likely that there will be rooms for them.
And just so you know...this is not typical for this part of the country, despite our reputation for long, snowy winters. According to the National Weather Service, "Through 5am for Friday, October 13, Buffalo recorded 10.9 inches of snow, setting a new mark
for the snowiest day in October since records began back in 1870. The culprit for this record snow is the earliest lake effect snow storm on record to hit the city of Buffalo."
Update: The power was out in the hotel. So much for their corporate process. My dad's back in his house, and is using his gas oven to heat the kitchen and his gas stove to heat water. (Yes, he knows not to leave the oven on for long periods of time, or overnight.) The temperature is well above freezing, so hopefully the snow will melt fast enough for them to get repairs done before Tuesday. Or, at the very least, for us to be able to get to him before Tuesday and bring him back to Rochester. I've got a Subaru B9 Tribeca, so if they reopen the thruway tomorrow I could probably make it to his house. Think good thoughts for him, okay?