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Hey, Southerners: It’s OK you can’t drive in snow; at least you could learn to enjoy it

Roads in Raleigh are slick

A much-heralded winter storm roaring up the East Coast left a coating of powdery snow on the Triangle overnight, covering roads and dropping temperatures into the mid-20s.
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A much-heralded winter storm roaring up the East Coast left a coating of powdery snow on the Triangle overnight, covering roads and dropping temperatures into the mid-20s.

As a transplanted Northerner who has spent the last 18 years in Raleigh, I’ve become used to the occasional anti-Yankee rhetoric from strangers, colleagues and even friends. Often times it’s warranted. I, too, have winced when someone starts talking about how they did something better up north.

And so I wasn’t surprised or offended when my colleague, Henry Gargan, wrote about “transplanted Northerners cracking wise” about Southerners’ inability to drive in the snow. Let me say that this transplant (22 years in Ohio, followed by seven in New England) doesn’t judge drivers by where they are from. There are plenty of folks up north who act foolish behind the wheel after a snow storm, too.

stradling
Richard Stradling Ethan Hyman ehyman@newsobserver.com

But Henry lost me when he talked about “Southerners’ excitement at the sight of snow,” in contrast to us jaded northerners whose hearts have frozen over. What he calls excitement I see mostly expressed as dread, as each one-inch snow storm is treated as a disaster nearly on par with a hurricane.

Schools close, the governor declares a state of emergency and the TV stations pre-empt the talk shows and soap operas to provide wall-to-wall coverage. As a newspaper reporter, I know I’m part of that problem; I was out at the N.C. Department of Transportation barn with the TV crews before dawn Thursday to get the latest on the roads.

Which were pretty good, actually. The pavement was wet but clear where state and local crews had put down brine. The secondary roads were passable. The streets most of us live on won’t be fully cleared until the snow melts, in this case maybe Monday, but we’re used to that.

And the storm was benign in the Triangle in other ways. The fluffy snow didn’t pull down trees or power lines. In fact, it was beautiful.

If I miss something about a snow storm up north it’s the way you’re allowed, maybe even expected, to simply enjoy the snow. Something that happens every week or so can’t be treated like a calamity.

True, long winters can grind some people down, and some of them move south to escape. But many more, including my kin in Ohio, New Hampshire and Upstate New York, like snow. They’d be puzzled by Henry’s description of their world as a “frigid hellscape” or “frozen wasteland.”

By the way, true to his promise, Henry sent a text his editor as the first flakes began falling in Chapel Hill on Wednesday night and informed her he would not be coming in to work Thursday. I hope he was able to enjoy the beauty of the snow out his window.

Major thoroughfares and I-40 are mostly clear of snow but many secondary and neighborhood roads are snow covered in Raleigh Thursday morning, January 4, 2018 as snow blanketed the area overnight.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling

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