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Winter weather evokes memory of snowstorm past

It was 1998. The power had gone out some hours before, and our house was faltering against the biting cold outside.

“Snowstorm brings treacherous driving conditions, school closures, and widespread power outages to the Cumberland Plateau. Interstate 40 is closed at Monterey for 18 hours due to the heavy snow. Traffic is backed up for 13 miles. Winds gust to 50 mph at times during the snowstorm. Approximately 100,000 electric customers lose power. TEMA reports damages of about $5 million.”

That’s how the National Weather Service documents Feb. 3, 1998. And where did my family live at the time? The aforementioned Cumberland Plateau, Crossville, Tenn.

As an 8-year-old at the time, my memories of the event are somewhat fuzzy, but I do have some very clear mental images: Mom bundling up my brother and me in preparation to make the 45-minute drive to my grandparents, who hadn’t lost power. Sitting in the backseat squeezing my stuffed bear and staring out the window as we hit the icy roads.

Telling myself we’d be fine because my Daddy was a good driver – but also being a little afraid, old enough to realize the roads were dangerous and we could easily be the next news headline.

In rehashing the memories by phone with my mother as we both sat in our comfortable homes Monday afternoon, as the trees iced over outside, she admitted the roads had been much worse than they expected, and they wondered more than once whether we would have been better off to wait it out at home, bundled up against the falling temperatures.

Thankfully we reached my grandparents’ safely, and my last clear memory of that event is walking inside their home, cozy and well-lit, seeming so foreign compared to the cold dark house we’d left in Crossville.

Yes, the power had only been out maybe a day when we left, but it had been long enough to give even an 8-year-old a new appreciation for the warmth and light electricity could provide.

Plenty of people have snow- and ice-storm memories more vivid than mine and fraught with more dangers than mine, and I’m not trying to make it out to be more than it was.

But this week’s weather brought that experience forcefully to mind, and I wanted to share.

I hope you have all been safe and warm through this experience, and we’ll welcome warmer weather soon!

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