Winter Storm Jonas

After our Christmas break, during which all of our soldiers went home on leave, we are back in the saddle again. January has brought more unseasonably warm weather. Sure there has been some rain, but temperatures have generally been very mild, sometimes in the 60s and even close to 70. In January.

Well, the weekend of 23 January ended all that. Winter is now officially here. Newport News was spared the worst of Winter Storm Jonas that dumped record snow along the mid-Atlantic seaboard. We were returning from our district meeting (a weekly missionary training meeting) in Williamsburg on Friday as heavy snow began to fall. We made our way cautiously along I-64, a road that leaves much to be desired when it is dry and sunny. We saw several large SUVs and giant pickup trucks littering the median and coming close to the woods on the shoulders. We had seen similar vehicles passing us at speeds at which I wouldn’t want to be traveling. I’m not sure why drivers of these vehicles think that the laws of physics don’t apply to them. More than a few got a rude awakening that the laws of the land may be optional, but never so the laws of nature.

We made it home safely and braced for the two feet of snow that some forecasts had predicted. It was not to be, at least in Newport News. The temperature rose to the high 30s and the snow changed to rain. Lots of rain. While Washington and Baltimore were getting pummeled, we just got wet. On Saturday afternoon, the temperature dropped and the rain turned back to light snow. We picked up around an inch, but now it was on top of ice. We read in the paper this morning that the greater Hampton Roads area has more traffic accidents than anywhere else in the state. We figured out how to avoid that – don’t drive.
With the slick roads, church was canceled today. We were able to text all of our soldiers and let them know. We got a text from other missionaries living in our apartment complex asking if they could come to our place and have an abbreviated sacrament service. They had received permission from their various local ecclesiastical leaders. Two elders and four sisters came and we blessed and passed the sacrament. Then we shared testimonies and watched a DVD of a Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. It was a spiritual uplift for all of us. When the weather makes travel hazardous, the missionaries get a “no wheels” day, meaning that they can’t drive or ride bikes. For these high-energy young men and women, that makes for a pretty boring day.

We had planned to take a group of soldiers to the Washington DC Temple on the 23rd, but wisely elected to postpone that for two weeks. Traffic in Washington, even on the Interstates, is a mess that can try the patience of Job when the sun is shining and the pavement is dry. An inch of snow is enough to snarl traffic for hours. Two to three feet of snow and that place is closed. So, we’ll try again on 6 February.

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