Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Snow Days

"The Oconee County County Sheriffs Office announces that Valentines Day has been CANCELLED from a line North of I-16 to the Georgia/Tennessee border...due to ice, snow, freezing rain." -- Unknown

The above message was supposedly posted by someone with a wicked sense of humour but I was reminded of it as I sit in an air-conditioned room while others are outside in a day of high heat and humidity.  All over the world, severe weather has been affecting people in some form or other, particularly in places that are not accustomed to it.

Take last winter.  Ice in South Carolina.  Heavy snow in Washington DC.  A slushy mix of rain, ice, and snow in New England.  Not to mention three inches of snow in Montreal along with strong winds and zero visibility on the roads during one particular snowstorm.  But we're used to it.  Such a storm was business as usual: snow crews were out in force, most schools were open, and there were few power outages.

However I've seen images flashing across the Internet of near panic happening when a quarter-inch of snow hits the the ground in Texas, versus two feet of snow in Maine with snarky captions of "Bitch please" or something similar.  In the middle of January the media had assigned the name Janus to a particular snowstorm - and at one TV station an unfortunate graphic artist rendered a screen coloration so that the letter J was hardly visible, which must have been a major embarrassment.  What I couldn't understand is why someone chose the name Janus anyway; he was the god of gateways, but since the month of January was named for him I suppose it made some sense.

Anyway, severe weather in places where it's unexpected is not really a laughing matter.  The existing equipment and infrastructure are frequently unable to deal with it.  Leafy trees cannot support the weight of heavy snow.  Roofs that are flat or with a low pitch that aren't properly supported are vulnerable to collapse. Most people in southern areas might not even own a snow shovel or have appropriate tires on their vehicle.  It's little wonder that a "mere" two inches of snow in Atlanta can bring everything to a screeching halt.  By the same token, many parts of the continent aren't used to having a hurricane on their doorstep.

My mother used to amuse me with this limerick:

There was a young man from Quebec
Who got frozen in snow to his neck.
When asked, "Are you friz?"
He said, "Yes I is,
But we don't call this cold in Quebec."

And we don't.  However even in Montreal we had an unseasonably cold winter; at one point we had temps in the minus twenties for a week.  That's anywhere between -4F and -13F for you folks to the south.  So next time you complain about the cold?  Be thankful.

1 comment:

  1. I live in Virginia Beach, VA and this area cannot handle snow. This past winter when there was even a forecast of snow, they closed schools and business. We had a hurricane warning this weekend and today's temps are in the mid 90s!