Sunday, February 2, 2014

Southern Snow

My northern friends are having a good time at our expense down here in the south over the the effects of the snow event we had last week. Just to be funny, I called it “SnowmangeddonsharknadoJimCantoresknee!” In case you didn’t see it, be sure to search for the video clip of Weather Channel meteorologist Jim Cantore using his knee to fend off a potential video bomber during a live shot at the College of Charleston last Tuesday. He didn’t miss a beat as he sent the poor guy off the way he came.

Snow down here is a relative rarity. In fact, I was 18 and had come up to South Carolina to go to college before I saw my first snowflakes. I still have a picture of that around here somewhere. Ever since that first time, I’ve seen snow on an average of once every two years. Back in the early days, I would almost tingle in anticipation whenever the weatherman said that there was a chance of snow. These days knowing the inconvenience that can sometimes accompany snow, not so much. And heaven forbid that we get ice instead of snow that is a real pain.

Most of the power lines in this part of the city are above ground in subdivisions that are rich in tall stately trees. When ice comes, there usually has been enough time since the last ice storm for a lot of branches to mature and die. These become frozen missiles that seem to take aim at the ice covered power lines. The result is a blinding flash of light followed by a period of darkness that usually lasts for days, especially in my neighborhood. It seems that we live at the end of a power cul-de-sac that has about 20 houses in it. When the power company triages all the failures and prioritizes the order that repairs get made, the ones that affect the most number of customers get attended to first. So a three to five day wait is not all that unusual. However, we’ve learned the secret of how to cope with the lack of electrical power: Natural Gas! It used to be natural gas and a wood fireplace but this year, we put in gas logs to go along with our gas range and water heater. So bring it, Mother Nature.

Left: February 2010 Snow. The snow event of this week was nothing like what we called “The Big One” around here back in February of 1973. That story is chronicled elsewhere in this blog complete with pictures. In fact the last two snows around here have been pretty benign. In February 2010 we had a snow that started on a Friday evening and ended early on Saturday morning. Everything was covered with a 4 inch layer of puffy light snow. We had a few hours to really enjoy getting out and playing in it in under blue skies and bright sunshine. By 1 PM the streets were clear and we could enjoy a pretty normal weekend of running errands. This most recent snow started late on Tuesday evening and was over by dawn Wednesday morning. The snow was forecast to start by midday so the city, county and state leadership teams had planned accordingly by calling a snow day that day. Even though the snow did not materialize until later I think that was a good call! After all, look at what happened to Atlanta and Birmingham.

Left: This week's snow Wednesday was another snow day, and that meant that I had a week off from my consulting day job. Thursday was the South Carolina Broadcaster’s Association Winter Conference and I was already scheduled to be off so I could attend. Early Thursday morning was my first venture back on the roads. I am glad to tell you that the roads were clean and clear and there was not a sign anywhere of the black ice that plagued other southern cities this week. So this was pretty much another beautiful interlude rather than the huge inconvenience that sometimes came with snowfalls in the past.

I was just as glad to be a member of the audience rather than a participant in this snow storm. I had my chuckles watching Jim dispatch the video bomber with a well placed knee. I also enjoyed all the winter pictures and videos posted on Facebook and the local television station web sites. So much nicer than driving around the city in one of WIS Radio’s news cars reporting road conditions on the air via our two way radios. Sure, there was a lot of adrenaline flowing and there was an excitement of being out there driving in the snow telling everyone to stay at home and not drive in the snow. Does anybody other than me see the irony in that?

I have to share one last image from this southern snowfall. It is the epitome of how someone who is not used to snow and ice should respect the “freezy skid stuff” more. Like the Jim Cantore clip, it comes from Charleston. The video starts with the snow and ice covered Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge over the Cooper River. After the scene is established a lone figure is seen walking in the pedestrian sidewalk along the closed bridge. For some unexplained reason, he decided to walk out into the middle of the empty traffic lane. Sure enough, almost to the middle of the center lane, slip, BAM, and he is flat on his back with the snow falling on him. And there he lies there until help arrives. What a doofus! Oh and one last thing: a note to the Columbia Meteorologist who keeps referring to that bridge as the Ravenel Street Bridge, the only Ravenel Street in Charleston is Ravenel Drive, West of the Ashley, miles from the bridge. Next thing you will be calling Huger Street “Hug-her” Street. Oh MY!

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