Old Man Winter comes in many ways, shapes, and forms. It can come in the legendary form of "The Hawk", a Midwestern and Mid-South term for the strong, cold, prevailing winter winds that whip around and through any and all things in its path.
It can come in the form of an unexpected snow in areas that are seemingly used to such weather between October and March. Be it last week's 10 inch snow in my home-state of New Jersey (which is still sitting around on the ground) or the legendary snowstorm that shut down the Windy City of Chicago in 2011 where 20 inches of snow fell, we are all aware the weather can be cold and somewhat hard to predict and prepare for. If you don't believe me, ask the NFL officials who are hoping for a cold day and not a cold, snowy day like last week (and projected for later this week) when it comes to the big game on Sunday.
And then there is the Southeast.
Keep in mind a key reason that people relocate to this part of the country is due to the warmer weather and generally more moderate winter. Given these factors, it is safe to say that 10 or 20 inch snows are few and far between.
But when it does snow, here are some things to keep in mind:
- It doesn't snow that frequently in this part of the country.
- A number of people who live here have not seen or been in snow as frequently as their peers in the Northeast or Midwest (and other regions of the country).
- Since it doesn't snow here that often, there is a general lack of equipment (plows, trucks, salt/sand trucks) as compared to other parts of the country; if it only snows maybe twice a winter, why would you need as much equipment as other areas where it snows much for frequently (and heavier)?
- Given the relative lack of treatment of the roads, combined with the aforementioned factors, it may actually be more dangerous when it snows in the Southeast compared to other areas of the country.
While it is understandable that others from different parts in the country view the area with some skepticism when there is a 1-3 inch dusting of snow that shuts down an entire city compared to having a delayed opening when it is twice as many inches of snow, it's all relative. By the same token, people in this area view others a little differently when summertime comes around and people note how hot and humid it is (along with the concept of free refills and sweet tea), but I digress.
Perhaps it would be a little different if the region had more resources like its peers in other parts of the country, and drivers are better able to use best practices in driving so there are not as many issues. However, that wonderful time and epic shift in weather patterns may not be coming anytime soon, so the weather dynamics of winter in the Southeast mirroring that of the Northeast, Midwest, Mountain States, and the Pacific (when it comes to frequency and amount of snowfall) may be a long time coming. When ice-related accidents are already taking place prior to the heavier anticipated snowfalls, there are definitely a few issues present.
If there is anyone who happens to be out in it, regardless of where you are from, it makes sense to recall some of the essentials in the event you have to be out in the snow and pending refreezing of the roads (and threat of ice and slick conditions). If all else fails, common sense adages of driving slower, allowing more time to gradually brake, and others, are probably going to be the order of the day (just some suggestions).
Again, it is all relative. Just as one man's trash is another man's treasure, three inches of snow in areas that get little of it can be the equivalent of 10 inches in an area that is used to it.
After all, it is winter.