When I was in college, I distinctly remember a picture from a campus newspaper on a snow day. The scene was completely staged, yet still funny as hell. Two fratboys are in the bread aisle of a grocery store. The shelves are bare. One has a loaf of long french bread, presumably the only thing left in the store. He is wielding it like a sword, beating the other fratboy over the head in an epic struggle.
Okay, my explanation of the picture will never do it justice. But the satire was spot on. People in the south go absolutely nutty over the mere chance of frozen precipitation. Is it justified, or all hype?
Fast forward to today… I’m on a daily conference call with colleagues in our Michigan office. Do you think they want to hear about our 40% chance of a dusting of snow? I’m sure the phone is on mute on their end, laughing their asses off.
So let’s go point/counterpoint on the snow day hype machine…
Hype – Stocking Up
The need to stock up on perishable kitchen items is silly. Unless there are blizzard conditions, you’re not going to starve. I can survive on out-of-date canned water chestnuts in my cupboard for at least a week.
Not Hype – Ice
Typically in the south, snow or sleet occurs when the temperature is at or near freezing. The stuff thaws, then refreezes on the roads. Up north, snow falls, sticks, and stays as powdery stuff for day/weeks.
Hype – School and Office Closings
Schools these days close at just the mention of snow. Sometimes they will close an entire school system if only part of the county has snow. The effects of kids out of school and parents having to cover for them has ripple effects in the work place.
Additionally, office closings are stupid. Here in cubicle land, most of us have the ability to work from home. Smart companies treat their employees like adults and will let them make decisions. If travel is dangerous, make the decision yourself and work from home. If your boss has a problem with that, find a new boss.
Not Hype – Snow is Fun
I blame this on being born and raised in Florida. I never saw snow until I was a teenager. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been in a significant snow fall (6 inches or more) in all my life. If we have snow, any amount of snow, I’m gonna play in it. I don’t care if I have to rake the yard to find enough snow for a snowball, I’m gonna do it. And my kids? Please! This is a rite of childhood.
Hype – Meteorologists
You can’t argue that they have a vested interest in playing this up. It is all about the ratings, and people don’t watch the Weather Channel on warm, sunny days.
Not Hype – Lack of Infrastructure
In the south we just don’t have the number of snow plows available. If we do get a deep covering, only primary roads and bridges get cleared. Secondly, utilities struggle to keep power lines clear. There are many above ground utilities which are not clear of tree limbs. In icing conditions, trees snap and folks lose power. Again, this typically only happens with ice or heavy snowfall.
So all in all, I probably lean towards the “not hype” side of my argument. Nevertheless, I enjoy watching the spectacle. Tomorrow the TV stations will send reporters as far north as possible to get a flake on your screen. If we’re lucky, we might see video of cars skidding down Peachtree Street. But that’s about it. Either way, I’ll be here with my extra bread, milk and beer.