Wednesday, January 29, 2014

7 Things About Frozen Precipitation in Unaccustomed Places

I know.  People in Alaska never close their schools.  People in Wisconsin go to football games and sit outside for hours in weather that closes schools and sometimes governments here.  I know.  Let me explain. 
1.  Sometimes we get snow. And when I say sometimes I mean erratically, often in small amounts, and we just broke a long snow "drought" where we hadn't had an official more than two inches in the city (even though for city we apparently mean Reagan Airport which is actually not in the city) for two years.  (Also, check the chart in that link our snow accumulation is crazy erratic.) 
2. Anytime budgets get crunched people look at things we didn't use last year.  So money for things like salt, plows, snow melters get cut.  Trimmed.  Rumor has it one year, one local school district took out the snow day padding entirely.  Guess what happened that year? 
3.  It's usually not just snow.  It's sleet.  Or it is snow but the ground is warm when it falls so it melts which is fine until the temperature drops and you get ice.  All this I learned to drive in snow when I was knee high to a tractor stuff is fine if we were just talking about snow.  You can't really drive on ice.  You can try, but tree. 
4. I see people in puffy coats the second the temperature dips below fifty.  Now, they may be from a more tropical locale, but more likely they have one winter coat.  Some people don't have that much.  Just like cities drop things they need less from their budgets people and especially parents are more likely to make hard choices about boots and coats if you only need it for a few weeks a year.  Standing at the bus stop at five am in a sweatshirt is not fun when the temperature has gone negative. 
5. County and city growth is strange. As a result, schools often find an influx.  Especially some counties that allow things like language and technology transfers out of the school you are zoned for.  So, schools make up for this using extension trailers which tend not to heat up as well.  Also, know what else gets cut when budgets get tight, money for education, particularly school construction. 
6. Bad weather always impacts traffic. It's a trickle down effect too.  During the thundersnow storm we had here, one friend took about three hours to go seven miles.  He was almost home when he ran into an abandoned mail truck blocking the road so he ended up backtracking, finding a good parking lot to leave his car and then walking home.  But he was lucky enough to be close enough to home to do that.  That's less of an option if you're on a major highway.  I was the queen of having just enough gas to get home.  In bad weather you may be stuck in a traffic jam nowhere near an exit by the time you realize crap this is not enough gas for a commute that just quintupled in time. And even if you did realize sooner, the gas stations may have sent their employees home early. 
7. We know.  You that get more snow are better at snow.  I believe you.