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Southern Snow

Our backyard this morning.
Our backyard this morning.

The Guy and I are both Yankees, transplanted to North Carolina. Technically that makes us damn Yankees, because we stuck around. The truth is that us Yankees only get a hard time down here if we follow the Yankee stereotype of always pointing out how much better everything is done up North. While our progressive views do clash with the ideology of a lot of folks down here, for the most part the Guy and I really like living here (ok, the Guy does have a bit of disdain for hot, muggy summers).

So we don’t make fun of the dialect, and when we actually get a substantial amount of snow, we don’t make (too many) jokes about Southerners not being able to drive in this stuff and the mass hysteria that surrounds even the forecast of winter weather. We are entitled to make at least a few jokes, because at this point, the natives even make light of themselves. The most well known joke is that if you go to the grocery store right before a predicted snowstorm, you’ll find only empty shelves where the bread and milk once were–presumably so everyone will have ready supplies for milk “sammiches” should they be snowed in for a week.

While it is all a bit entertaining, I learned my lesson pretty early why you really do need to be prepared for the worst around here. We all know that weather forecasts are less than perfect, but for some reason, when it comes to predicting snow in the South, the forecasters have the worst time getting it right. If they call for a couple of inches of snow, the actual result could range from a dusting to half an inch of ice to a foot of snow that locks everything up for a week. The latter was my first real introduction to winter weather in the Carolinas. I came down here for college. One afternoon in my junior year–after seeing no more than a quarter inch of snow in my first two years there–big fluffy flakes started falling. Within an hour there was some decent accumulation and 90 percent of students on campus were either sliding down hills in makeshift sleds (note–Southerners can make a sled out of anything), having a snowball fight or building a snowball.

Being the damn Yankee that I am, and never really being a fan of winter anyway, I ignored the hoopla and went back to my warm apartment, shaking my head. But by the time the snow stopped falling the next night, we had 14 inches of snow outside, and no power inside. The power wouldn’t come back on for four days. Luckily, living on a college campus, we were able to trek on foot to the dining hall for food–where we had hamburgers and hot dogs cooked on propane grills nearly every night for the rest of the week. If it weren’t for that option, we’d have been awful hungry, since we’d failed to properly stock up on the oh-so-precious bread and milk, our cars were completely snowed in, and all the stores nearby were closed. When the roads did finally get plowed after a couple days and we’d heard word that a nearby convenience store was open, we used pots and pans to shovel my roommates car out of her parking space. Because, um, it’s North Carolina–do you really think we had shovels?!?

A few days ago, snow started showing up in the forecast for last night. Since then, predicted amounts have swung wildly from two inches to 10 inches and anywhere in between. Being good adopted Southerners that we are, we made sure we had shovels at the ready and picked up a few essentials at the grocery store (including milk, but no bread since we already had a loaf at home). Luckily, the result this morning was somewhere around five inches of snow–enough to paint the beautiful landscape you see above, but not enough to shut everything down for weeks. As I type this, most of the roads have already been plowed, the sun is shining brightly, and the temperature has warmed enough that the snow has been quickly melting throughout the afternoon.

If North Carolina weather holds true, we’ll be going for a swim next weekend.