South Carolina Snow Days

Here in the Upstate of South Carolina, our interactions with Wintry weather are a bit different than in most other parts of the country. Today was the first snowy day and as usual everything ground to a halt over a couple of inches of snow.

It snows here perhaps two or three times each Winter – sometimes, it’s a brief dusting, but usually we get from 1-3 inches. Since we have such infrequent snow, we don’t have a lot of infrastructure to deal with it–I think my county has two plows and we don’t salt the roads. Instead, what happens is that everything shuts down for a day or two until the snow melts.

Many of my friends from other parts of the country think this is absolute lunacy, and in a sense it is, but there is more going on beneath the surface. In addition to the lack of infrastructure, when it snows here we have a nasty cycle where the temperature fluctuates a few degrees above and below the freezing point throughout the day; this means the snow melts, then freezes again, then melts, then freezes again. By nightfall, it is a solid sheet of ice with a bit of snow on top.

Because of the snowy shutdown, when snow is incoming grocery stores experience a run on bread and milk. I always joked this was milk sandwiches (or perhaps French toast?) but in reality these are just standard staples that most people don’t buy in bulk. When I was a bachelor, I’d opt instead for take out pizza and beer as my snowy sustenance.

My wife is from Pennsylvania. When she first arrived, she thought our way of handling snow was completely insane, but now that she’s weathered a decade of Carolina winters, she agrees that the way we handle things is probably for the best given the available resources. She’s come to enjoy hunkering down and enjoying a couple of days of enforced vacation.

Of course, not everyone is so lucky. I’m at a career level now where i mostly work from home anyway, but I’ve had plenty of times in the past where I’ve had to venture out into unplowed unsalted roads for twenty miles or more. Thankfully, I’ve spent a little time driving in Pennsylvania winters, so I haven’t had any issues yet other than slipping and sliding over the ice. The last time I had to go to work on a snow day it was driving thirty miles–I slid around a lot, but having a manual transmission allowed me to utilize engine braking and I never crashed.

As I sit here looking out at the slushy snow drinking coffee and holding my baby, I am thankful for the enforced day off. It may not be the most-effective solution to deal with snow, but with the business of my frenetic average day, I’m happy for the break. My only regret is that the snow wasn’t dry and powdery enough to make snow cream.

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