Southern Snowstorm 2011

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My Element in the elements

Okay, it’s cold around here. For everyone who doesn’t have access to a weather outlet, a huge cold system dumped anywhere from six to twelve inches of snow on us here in Upstate SC from Sunday night through Monday morning. Then, starting late yesterday afternoon, a soft misting drizzle coated the fluffy snow in a clear crystalline crust with the result being we won’t thaw out here for another week at least.

Budge’s district was out yesterday and by noon yesterday, their administration as well as every other district in this corner of the Heavenly Triangle that is South Carolina, agreed to phone it in again today. At the rate this stuff is not melting, tomorrow is very likely a wash and Thursday will be at least a two hour delay so the bus drivers have a fighting chance to spot the black ice slicks BEFORE the big yellow banana goes into the ditch. Of course, with this district extending all the way into the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, some parts of the county STILL won’t be passable and my Budge may not go back to school this week.

The unfortunate issue in all the preparation for and fighting of the snow is it actually makes things a bit worse in the short run. Our state and county DOTs have been doing a masterful job of clearing the interstates and main artery state roads, BUT, while the plows clear the snow away quite effectively, they cannot help but leave a thin sheet of water on the now-exposed asphalt. This sheet of water becomes a sheet of ice just as soon as the sun goes down. So in a sense, all those plows out on the roads now are acting as giant yellow Zambonis creating a veritable plethora of ice rinks up and down the roads. This results in many drivers, especially those who have more horsepower than brains, pulling a Paul Simon and “slip sliding away.”

Slick, frozen hills like this are what will keep schools closed for a good while.

Skidding off the road isn’t so bad in most places in the main roads because about the worst you can do is slide into the median or onto the shoulder, but once you make a turn or two and get back here into the sticks a bit, flying of the road via a sheet of black ice can be fatal. I’m thinking of one spot less than two miles from here where a long curve over an old bridge meets a long, steady, SHADED uphill incline. Now I know as surely as I know I’ll never own a Porsche that stretch of road is going to be slicker than snot on a doorknob until Saturday at the very least. Remember the bridge and the curve I mentioned? Well, the bridge has nice concrete guard rails, of course, and a set of metal guard rails extends from both ends and both sides of the bridge for another ten feet or so and stops right where the curve begins. That means anyone sliding down that hill — forwards or backwards — has a straight shot past the guard rail and down a 50 foot embankment into the Reedy River below the bridge. That water is deep and cold and I’ve seen more than one car winched out of there followed by four rescue workers struggling up the hill with a human sized black plastic zipper bag held between them.

To paraphrase CCR "Dut, dut, dut, lookin' out my front door."

Still, people don’t learn. People get all broke out in dumb when the white stuff is on the ground. The worst offenders are Yankee expatriates and guys who have jacked up four-wheel drive trucks. The Yankees scoff at us poor benighted hillbillies who can’t drive on snow. I hear it all the time, “Why this is a dusting compared to what we get every day up in X part of Yankee-land, I simply can’t fathom why you people can’t drive on it!” Well, Goober, the reason we can’t drive on it — and you can’t either, by the way — is it’s NOT SNOW. Anyone CAN drive on snow. Snow is easy. Once the roads clear a tiny bit OR once they get nice and compacted, it’s not snow anymore though. It’s ICE and NO ONE can drive on ice. Even James Freaking Bond can’t drive on ice! Watch Die Another Day if you don’t believe me.

The other goofuses (goofi?) with the four-wheel drives are just obnoxious and have no knowledge of physics. They reside in a safe and strange little world where the phrase “I’ll put ‘er four-wheel drive!” makes Mother Nature soil her gauzy shift in terror. In reality, the phrase, “I’ll put ‘er in four-wheel drive” is usually followed by the phrase, “any y’all got a winch or know a good tow company?” Once again, the culprit is ICE. The only difference between a four wheel drive vehicle and a two-wheel drive vehicle on ice is the number of wheels spinning helplessly as the car or truck slides inexorably towards the Ravine of Doom.

So, if you’re reading this around these parts, hunker down, make up some snow cream, drink a cuppa, and take a nice nap. Those of you up and out where this stuff is normal, be careful, and those of you in warmer, snow free clime — keep your obnoxiously sunny and cheerful opinions to yourselves.

Love y’all, and keep those feet clean!

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