Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Southern Snow


Last year around this time, Miss Chef and I were with her family in Michigan, struggling through and playing in deep inches of soft, thick snow.


This year, we are at home, where we got considerably less.

Snow 01 (9)

This snow“storm” was scheduled to arrive Tuesday afternoon, and the city began salting the roads on Monday.  Our sister office in Columbia, SC started getting sleet around 11:00 am Tuesday and were dismissed at 1:30; my office let us out at 2:00, to make sure everyone could make it home before the snow started falling.  We do have several people who live in rural parts of neighboring South Carolina, where an inch of snow/ice makes narrow gravel driveways nearly impassible.

In Charlotte, however, there was nothing yet falling, and I had a speedy drive home.  I changed, brought in some firewood and waited for the fun to begin.  By 4:30, I posted this picture to Facebook, with the caption, “That’s it; we’re officially snowed in.”

Snow 01


Rosie loves cold and snow, and she was very excited about the weather.  This was McKenna’s first snowfall, and while she found the falling flakes and Rosie’s antics rather interesting…


…she later determined that being outside in the stuff was not much fun.  (I brought her out on the leash, and once she was on the snow-covered ground, she eventually sat down with her tail wrapped around herself, waiting to go back inside.) 

Miss Chef and I got to spend our evening together on the couch, watching tv, enjoying the benefits of a wood fireplace, and eating snickerdoodles (like I said earlier, freeze some rolled cookie dough for a no-effort treat at any time).  We kept checking on the snow, as it changed from hard, dry dust to soft white flakes and back again.  Most of it accumulated after dusk, so I waited until this morning to go outside with my little ruler and see how we did.


Snow 01 (2)

That’s about 3/4 of an inch, less than the one to two inches that were predicted.

Now, we had been hearing for days about this dangerous snowfall, and there were lots of jokes on the internet about ridiculous southerners who can’t handle a fraction of the weather that other parts of the country take as standard winter conditions.  I, too, used to laugh at my coworkers’ freaking out about an inch of snow—Charlotte does have snow-removal equipment, and is smart enough to get teams out before snow falls (unlike some other, more northerly places I’ve lived in…but that’s another story).

However, the fact that southern snow generally falls when the temperature teeters back and forth across the freezing point can make it more dangerous than what I grew up with in northeastern Ohio.  It wasn’t until the first early-morning drive into work several years ago that I learned that snowfall around the freezing point makes a heck of a lot more ice than snow at ten degrees.

Snow 01 (8)

That’s our street this morning, covered in a thin layer of the dreaded “black ice.”  Frankly, I don’t think it matters what color you name it…but even our driveway and sidewalk, which had no traffic, developed a thin sheet of the stuff, from snow thawing on warmish concrete before re-freezing.  And everywhere we stepped last night, the pressure of our weight made more of it.  Some of us made more than others, going in and out to eat snow instead of peeing like they were supposed to.

Snow 01 (3)


That’s our front sidewalk, after I’d swept off the light covering of snow so I could expose the ice underneath to the sun and a pinch or two of salt.  The snow itself was no problem, a beautiful dry powder that swept easily off our ice-free cars, but you can see it wanted to stick to the ice on the ground, so it could make more.

Naturally, area schools were let out early yesterday, and are closed today.  My office won’t open until noon (thus my chance to blog).  However, Miss Chef’s school continued with its 5:30 am classes this morning!  Luckily, she didn’t have any early classes today, though she did have to go in for a meeting at 9:00.  It sounded like the main roads were very clear, but Miss Chef found most of the back roads were solid ice, and even saw a car slide off the side.  Once she got to work, she found out her meeting was cancelled, but decided the drive back was too treacherous to be worth it.

But even as I write this, our street is half-melted down to wet asphalt, and by the time I leave in another hour, I expect to have no real problems getting to work.  Still, I challenge any northerner to come down and try an early-morning drive here before snorting in derision at southerners in snow.  There are some ice-driving skills you just don’t get, even in the Land of Big Snow.  Trust me.

Edit: Just as I got to the word “derision” in that last paragraph, my supervisor called to say “Don’t bother coming in today.”  So now, I don’t know…maybe there is a call for derision.  Oh, well, we can always laugh at people emptying the store shelves of bread and milk, right?


  1. Glad you survived just fine, Alison. I noticed all the mocking on the Internet. Seattle does not do any better in the snow, trust me, and we have plenty in the surrounding mountains. It's not so much the snow as dry ice. Hate the stuff. Nobody can walk and even less drive on it, no matter how used they are to snowing conditions. I personally don't care for snow, especially on my driveway, as I hate being cold. Well, at least kids and (some) pets enjoy it... Enjoy your time off. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

    1. I remember as a pre-teen, hearing that (at the time) Seattle only had one snowplow. It was the first time I realized some places didn't spend several months a year shoveling. I'd rather do that than chip ice, any day.

  2. I only got 2 hours off for the great Dusting.

    1. You, my friend, got hosed. But I guess it wasn't as bad on the north side of town??

  3. I do great dusting every day........with a duster xxxx
    Stay warm old friend x

    1. Why am I imagining a frilly apron to complete the ensemble??

  4. Even living in a northerly location, we do get this kind of snow and mild temperatures from time to time (caused in winter by the moderation of temperatures by the Atlantic, and in the milder temps of spring and fall), and you are absolutely right - the combination of melt/freeze makes the worst kind of slick surface. I would rather drive in deeper snow because you can get a bit of traction - and also because the idiot drivers out there tend to slow down if they can SEE lots of snow :) But hey, who can argue with a couple days off, regardless? Not me :)


Thanks for dropping by--please share your thoughts!

"Every time we get comment mail, Rosie wags her tail!" (Seriously, you should see that puffy thing go.)