Thoughts on plowing intersections, runs on bread, having places to turn around on major roads (like LSD), and more

Now that the Groundhog Day Blizzard of 2011 has stopped (though arctic wind chills are next), I have a few thoughts about the storm:

1. I drove home yesterday at about 4:45 PM. The roads weren’t too bad and the traffic was light – I assume this meant many people went home earlier. But there a problem in this sort of weather and any snow that always pops up: intersections that are difficult to move through. The roads can be quite passable but then everything bottles up at slushy intersections where people can’t start quickly and have great difficulty in turning. Someone needs to figure out a way to solve this problem. Would it be better to close an intersection for a minute or two so plows could do diagonal runs through the intersection square to clear snow? Are there people concerned about the science of plowing?

2. Why there was a run on bread in times like this is an interesting question to ponder. There are a lot of food one could buy before a storm hits that would be better in bread in that it would last longer and be more fulfilling. When did runs on bread begin and why do people still do this?

3. One of the stories in Chicago was the people who got stuck on in northbound traffic on Lake Shore Drive for hours. Why doesn’t every main road, particularly highways, have a certain number of points where people could turn around if a situation like this (or even a major crash in regular conditions) occurs? Lake Shore Drive has a number of exits in this area but those were blocked with crashes as well. Concrete barriers are helpful in separating traffic but this is an issue that someone should solve.

4. The warnings the police and state officials were giving overnight and this morning were intriguing that they must have to give these warnings because there are people who go out driving in such conditions when they don’t have to. This morning, one official suggested that if people wanted to go out, they needed to consider whether they were willing to risk their lives. This seems like common sense – but perhaps it is not.

5. When I woke up at 7:30 AM, the street in our residential subdivision wasn’t bad – perhaps 5-6 inches of snow. By 12:30 PM, a plow had done several runs on the street and it was clear. I was tempted to go drive and see what everything looks like but see point #4 above.

6. The blizzard is over – the total snowfall was the third biggest storm in Chicago history. Now it is time for the bitter cold. In the grand scheme of things, is the extreme cold more dangerous to more people than the blizzard conditions and the snow?