Wednesday, December 12, 2012


 Last year we had a CRAZY snowstorm in Atlanta (might have been two years ago).  There was ½ an inch of snow, and the city legitimately shut down for a week.  Because it was the first snow in a decade, they obviously didn’t have any plows, and then everything froze, and southerners can’t drive if it rains, so you can only imagine what snow/ice can do, and so on and so forth – it was nuts.

That was my last experience with a debilitating snowstorm, and I was looking forward to seeing how in-stride Stockholm would handle their snow.  When we moved here in January, there was a bunch of snow on the ground and it didn’t really affect anything.  I figured that Stockholm had a solid snow plan and didn’t really worry about the weather.

Well, as Mike Tyson used to say, “everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth”.  And evidently, the storm we had last week was the weather equivalent of getting a tyson-style uppercut.

We had already received an inch or so the week before, and it was actually a positive thing.  October and November here are pretty dreary – just overcast and dark, but once the snow came, it seemed to get much brighter, as well as cheerful and Christmas-y.  Evidently this was really rare to get getting snow before Christmas, but everyone was happy about it.

Rumors began on Monday that we would be getting a bad storm Tuesday night.  By Tuesday night the latest forecast was for 20-30 centimeters.  I had no idea what that meant, but the internet let me know that that was potentially a foot of snow coming our way over the next 24 hours.

Waking up Wed morning, we definitely had a foot.  I took out my “manplow” (which probably will stay outside of the garage till May), and semi-quickly cleared out the driveway so that we could get into the garage and the trash.  I was able to put the snow on the side of the road and we were good to go.  It was a lot of snow, but kind of fun to see so much of it.

Oh, and it was still coming down.


I head off to work and the trains are all really slow.  The announcement signs are all off (saying one destination on station screen and another actually on the train), and we had prolonged stops at a few stations.  One station we all had to get off and change trains.  Nothing bad necessarily, but just lots of little delays.

At work, I am facing the window, and it is a major blizzard going on outside.  With the wind going strong, it was basically a white-out of swirling snow.

One guy who lives an hour north left around 3 to drive home safely.

I start packing up at 4 (still coming down) when I check my train status online.  Glad I did because evidently the tram I take every day had derailed around 2pm.  No one was hurt somehow, but they had cancelled the tram the rest of the day.

I check the bus schedule and find 2-3 options that could work to get me from the last subway stop to at least somewhere near home. 

I hop on the subway and have a few delays to get to my final stop.  Getting off, I walk out to find the bus, when I realize that they had cancelled all the BUS LINES as well.  So now I can’t take the tram, the buses aren’t running and I am not even on the right ISLAND yet.  I was pretty close to having to spend the night in a hotel or a friends couch, and it was only 5pm.

Talking with some folks, it seemed like a lot of people were walking over the bridge (15 min walk) to get to the island.  But if I had done that, I would still have a few hour walk to get home – and that would be in good weather.  It would be SUPER embarrassing to be hospitalized from exposure during our first snowstorm in Sweden, so I didn’t want to do that. 

Eventually I was able to find a cab (just jumped in to the first one that slowed down enough), and was about to head off.  Then an elderly woman (70+)knocked on the window and said something in Swedish.  I apologized, said that I didn’t speak Swedish but if she wanted to split a cab I was ok with that.  She switched to a perfect English accent and said thank you very much as she hopped in.  She thanked me profusely for sharing the cab – evidently she had expected me to make this nice grandmother walk across the bridge???  She had lived as an au pair in Jersey when she was young, but had lived in Lidingö for 30+ years.  She said she had never seen the transport system break down this badly before.  I agreed and said that I had been here for 10 months and had ALSO never seen it this bad.

Evenutally we dropped her off, then drove for a bit to get to our house.  The cabby missed the turn to my road, and when I pointed it out, he did an immediate 180 degree turn.  Probably not the best idea when it was snowing and there were 3 cars behind us, but hey – cabbies will be cabbies.

Getting up to my place, there was a women stuck in street.  My neighbor and I helped push her out, which only took about 20 minutes.  Then I was able to shovel the driveway out again – with a nice fresh foot of snow. 

Luckily this time, I didn’t have to do it on my own.  My right-hand man was able to grunt at me from the window to show his support, then he decided to help out a little bit as well.  Snow removal is a team sport in our house.  Speaking of snow removal, one MAJOR issue I foresee is what to do with it all.  After shoveling two feet of snow into the street, I started running out of places to put it.  And it’s the first week of December!!!  We’ll have our own ice hotel fully formed by February 1st at this rate.

The next morning my tram was still running delayed, so I was able to work from home.  The snow had died down by then, so we went out to play for a little bit during my lunch hour, but a car or two still got stuck, so I had to spend an hour pushing her out (by myself this time). 

Actually freed her 2-3 times, but she get getting stuck – the lesson, as always, is don’t drive anything but an SUV during Swedish winter.  Also, I can now completely understand how world strongest men competitors are always from Scandinavia and dominate the car pushing things.  

By Friday, things were back to normal - if normal meant snow to my thighs.  But at least the roads had been plowed and all transit was back on schedule.  It seems like Sweden viewed this storm more as a “sucker punch” – they just weren’t ready for this level of storm so early, but now they were back in game shape.  I’m assuming they’ll be ready for the rest of the year.

Although I had the beginning of a nervous breakdown when I saw it snowing again on Sunday….

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