Getting out of Dodge

Thursday morning, the weather prediction was for 1-3 inches of snow in Secaucus, NJ. I’d been in a data center working the past week on bringing a system to final state. Its done modulo some cosmetic and minor functional issues that should not impede usage. So we accomplished this mission, though I am something of a perfectionist, so we’ll be going back out in a week or so to work on the cosmetic bits.
I joked on twitter about #snowmageddon coming. Not for us of course, but it was going to be painful for some. Others called it #snowcapolypse. Later in the day I took to calling it Super Storm Santa.
Around 1:30pm, we ran out to lunch. Forecast was upped to 3-6 inches for Friday. Still no problem, I had a jeep, so I wasn’t worried about it. Radar suggested we’d get brushed by the bigger storm, which would dump all over New England.
Around 4pm, I stepped back from running IPMI cables between racks, and glanced at the news. The headline on Drudge was “BLIZZARD NYC”.
Ok. Not cool. I was 4 miles west of NYC, slated to go out Saturday from LaGuardia in the morning.
The forecast was for 4-8 inches in NYC and area. It kept getting worse.
So I checked to see if it was OK to go, we are at the point where it should be.
Then I checked flights. Nothing from LGA to DTW (direct or otherwise) after 8pm (it was 6:30pm, and there was no way in hell I was going to make an 8pm flight).
The National Weather Service just issued a Blizzard warning for NY city starting at 6am Friday. That was also the time of the first flight. So I rebooked on that. LGA to DCA then on to DTW.
6am. Means I have to be there before 5am. Keep working backwards to figure out when I have to leave. And given the unknown start of the winter wonderland festivities and snowfall, I had to plan for this. Its about 1 hour from the hotel to LGA on a good day (crossing the tunnels, bridges, and city). I realized I’d need to leave at about 2:30-3am to make sure I had enough leeway to make this work, in the worst possible case (say an extra hour or more delay). And then there was the possibility that the forecasters were wrong and had mispredicted the start time and amounts.
As I am adding this all up, I realize that, coupled with the problem associated with dropping the car off (rental place closed at midnight), it might make more sense to just get to the airport around 11-11:30pm and then … wait … until I could check in.
Yes, this sucks. I don’t recommend it.
This is what I did. I dropped the car off. Got to the airport, and dozed in the baggage area with my bags until 3:50am when the lines started forming for bag drop off and check-in. Got through that with little drama (apart from TSA not coming on duty until 4:30am, so the security line began forming a long queue). Grabbed “breakfast” at CIBO (yuk) and no coffee (/sigh). Got on plane, and mostly fell asleep. Landed in DCA, went to next plane, and did the same. Got to DTW around 9-ish, grabbed my bags, headed home, and slept for 5 hours.
I got lucky, I got outta Dodge. Looking at the weather totals for Secaucus and the NYC area, it looks like I got out in time. Secaucus had 9.5 inches (24cm) of snow. That was the smallest amount on my path to LGA. I would have been stuck, without a hotel, car, or flight.
I hope my colleagues in the area are ok. I just needed lots of sleep after this. Oh, and we only got 2-3 inches here.