It’s snowing/sleeting! Shut everything down and go home.

Since the latest storm hit, I’ve been watching the effect it’s had on the South.  Folks from northern states don’t seem to understand why we weren’t prepared for this mess.  I’ll try to explain how a few inches of snow and ice can basically cripple the South, and shed some light on why you northern folks don’t understand what the big deal is and why we aren’t dealing very well with it.

This is my backyard.  All that white is nothing but ice.

This is my backyard. All that white is nothing but ice. [Photo by me]

First of all, we don’t know how to drive in the shit.  We don’t get that much practice.  Seriously, we get a snow or ice storm once in a blue moon.  That should be obvious by now.  Especially given the situation in cities like Atlanta over the last couple of days, with thousands of stranded motorists, students and teachers.  When I lived in Missouri for four years, we got 3 or 4 storms every winter.  Schools did not let out or cancel classes.  Businesses did not close early.  I never did learn to drive in the stuff, even though the area natives are whizzing along at 60 mph like it’s NO BIG DEAL.  I’m from Louisiana.  Up until then, I’d experienced maybe 3 or 4 snowstorms in my life.

Southern snow is different from northern snow.  Basically, what happens in the South is the first layer of snow turns into ice, which then gets covered with more snow.  This makes for very slippery driving conditions.  The roads turn into an ice rink of people trying to avoid playing bumper cars with each other.  Try to drive on snow in a Southern state the way you do up north and you will end up in a ditch.  I never gave it much thought until I moved from southeast Missouri to northwest Arkansas.  Then we had an ice storm and a customer (and former northern state resident) remarked that our snow was different from what he  was used to driving in during his years up north.  I can vouch for the truth in this.  Northern snow IS different from what we get in the South.  Don’t believe me?  Come down here and drive on our roads during a storm like this just like you would if you were in your home state.  When you end up wrecking your car or getting stranded, maybe then you’ll finally understand.

This is our driveway.  It's a sheet of solid ice an inch thick.  And we didn't get hammered as hard as the people to the south and east of us! [Photo by me]

This is our driveway. It’s a sheet of solid ice an inch thick. And we didn’t get hammered as hard as the people to the south and east of us! [Photo by me]

Every grocery store in town will be out of milk and bread because everyone has left home/work and gone out in the weather to get these items.  Southerners apparently hoard these things when the weather is snowy/icy, mainly because we frequently lose power during ice storms and have to resort to eating sandwiches or cereal for every meal until the power is restored.  When it snows, you may as well shut a Southern state down.  All the businesses, except the grocery stores and Wal-Mart, are going to close and everybody is going home, unless they need milk or bread.  Wal-Mart will be jam-packed with people, their dairy case will be empty (or nearly so) and the bread aisle will be decimated.

Southern states are never prepared for snow.  We don’t have those fancy spray rigs on the Highway department trucks that go around spraying liquid de-icer on the roads in the days prior to an anticipated storm.  If you’ve ever lived in Missouri, you know what I’m talking about.  Those folks are PREPARED.  We don’t have stockpiles of salt or sand to treat the roads with.  We’re lucky if we have those snow plow things on the front of the trucks.  When you get a bad storm once in a blue moon, you don’t have these things, so you end up being unprepared for the weather.

We don’t own snow boots.  Most Southerners have probably never seen snow chains or snow tires either.  However, a Southerner who has lived in a northern state will own an ice scraper and a can of liquid de-icer.  That same Southerner will also own windshield washer fluid specially formulated to help melt snow and ice.  Heck, we may even have a bag of rock salt to coat our sidewalks and driveway with to melt the ice.  Someone who has never lived outside the South won’t and isn’t prepared to deal with slippery walkways and porch steps.

We consider snow/ice an excellent reason to stay home from work, school, etc.  You northern folks probably consider this wussy, since you drive in the crap for several months every year.  Again, this goes back to us not knowing how to drive in the shit.

So please, before you criticize us for not being prepared, consider the statements above.  Just because you’re used to these sorts of conditions doesn’t mean we are.  Have a little empathy for those of us who are dealing with the atrocious weather conditions in the South right now.

Trust me when I say we don’t envy you having to deal with these types of conditions for months on end every single year.  That’s one of the reasons why we live in the South, so we don’t have to deal with snow and ice.  The trade off is that we get to deal with horrendous heat and humidity every summer.  Northern attempts to horn in on this will be scoffed at because until you’ve lived in the South, you don’t have a clue what real heat and humidity are.

So I’ll make you a deal.  Stop laughing at us for our pitiful attempts to deal with the snow and ice, and we’ll stop making fun of y’all whining about how 90° is hot.