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Snow days down South
February 17, 2014 - Stephen Browne
It snowed again in Minnesota and North Dakota Sunday night. Not enough to get excited about, just a couple of inches. We’ve had more this winter and might have more again. We might even cancel a school day or two again before it’s over.
It’s been an pretty cold winter over much of the country, with snow down as far as Georgia and South Carolina, which is unusual but not unheard of.
However down south it's had a different effect. Atlanta has been basically paralyzed for two out of the past three weeks and there are power outages over huge areas of both states. Major highways became disaster areas.
So what gives?
Well we all know Southerners don’t know how to drive on ice and snow. Trust me, I am one. I know how to handle it because I’ve lived in the North long enough.
When you’re driving down a clear road and hit an unexpected wind drift and do a 180 to 360, your average Northerner shrugs and says, “Well that could have been worse.”
If you haven’t plowed into deep snow you restart your car and continue. If you have, you call a tow truck to pull you out. If you have AAA, it’s likely free. (Unsolicited product endorsement.)
I’ve known Southerners who’ve moved up here and haven’t gotten used to it yet. Maybe you have too. The first time it happens for them, they may get the shakes so bad they have to call someone to drive them home and can’t bear to get behind the wheel for a couple of days.
Now imagine a highway full of people with the same reaction...
Try and be compassionate toward them. Not too long ago I was reminded of how terrifying it can be when I drove a grain truck for harvest.
There’s nothing that takes the romance out of trucking like losing all visual contact with the road surface during a ground blizzard, or feeling 40 tons slip on the ice at 45 mph...
Back in Oklahoma I had a journalism teacher from North Dakota, who had a very strict attendance policy. Being from NoDak he was entirely unsympathetic when a few inches of snow had students pleading with him to relax his policy.
Nope, not going to happen.
“I’ll tell you the secret though,” he said compassionately. “Drive slow.”
In places where years pass without a flake of the white stuff all winter it’s just not worthwhile for cities to invest in a lot of snow removal equipment. It’s just easier and cheaper to shut everything down - it’ll be gone tomorrow.
But what about the power? How come that doesn’t happen up here where we always have snow and ice?
I can tell you exactly what happens, because I’ve seen it.
One year in Oklahoma we had freezing rain over a lot of the state. All night long I heard the loud CRACK of limbs breaking off trees laden with the burden of ice.
It’s not like that doesn’t happen up here, though because of our winters the trees get regularly pruned by the weather.
Down where they don’t have this kind of weather but once in several years, they forget you have to keep tree branches trimmed back from the power lines.
After that storm in Oklahoma about two-thirds of the state was without power, in some places for weeks.
So please, don’t make fun of us Southerners and the next time you get a heat wave of 90-odd degrees, or as us Okies say, “kinda warm,” we won’t make fun of all the Yankees dropping like flies.
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