We did get lucky. As we are safely ensconced at home, with the storm falling, it's interesting to consider how we got out of Atlanta.
Most people with flights scheduled before 8 pm on Sunday or so got out, I think. After that, things got dicey. The airport was closed around 9 pm, I think?
Snow was certainly falling by then. And, Atlanta isn't used to snow.
This does NOT mean folks in Atlanta say, "What is that white stuff of DOOM? AIEEE!"
It does mean that snow plows and tons of salt are not standing by for deployment as soon as the snow hits.
So, while my first reaction to someone commenting that it was "like Michigan" out there was utter scorn -- there were maybe a couple of inches of snow at that point -- what I had not realized was that the issue was ice, on runways and on planes.
Monday morning, I was told that sleeting rain means that it was too cold to do the de-icing necessary for planes to fly. Certainly, the ice on the ground made a walk to and from Waffle House more interesting than I would have liked. None of us fell, but on the way back, we did need to do a human chain on some icy patches.
But, another reason for a lot of the cancellations had to do with which airline the flight was with. Air Tran and Delta, I gather, hub in Atlanta. Apparently, a lot of the airline workers could not get in, which meant the people just weren't there to do the work. And, if a plane was on the ground in Atlanta, but might not be able to get back to Atlanta if it left, the airline was likely to decide not to let it leave.
We flew American, which is not usual. Usually, we fly out from Newark, which means Continental is the airline we tend to use. For Atlanta, Air Tran is probably a close second. But, this time, we delayed booking the flight, so our options were limited. And, because American does not hub in Atlanta, the airline is more likely to want the planes out of there.
We scheduled the return flight for 3:20 pm, figuring on a nice, leisurely Monday. This just happened to be late enough that the runways could be de-iced, but still before the hailstorms that were expected at 6 pm. And, the plane left an hour or so late, once we were on it, and spent an hour or so on the ground at JFK before it reached the gate, but it got us there. The applause when the plane touched down was more heartfelt than usual.
It took us until about 11 pm to get home, but that was because we made a two hour detour for food and tea shop dessert.