On Snow

snowMillThe east coast got some snow yesterday and boy oh boy is there a story to tell. From Birmingham, AL declaring a state of civil emergency to Atlanta, GA turning into a scene from The Walking Dead there were some pretty major hang ups in winter weather management. Her in North Carolina things seem to have been handed fairly well, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t freaking out. Schools closed yesterday before the snow even started and many businesses are closed today because residential and private roads are covered in an inch of ice. As a recent transplant from Washington, DC who got to experience The District’s Snowpocalypse of 2010 I am greatly amused, but I’m also happy to stay home on this beautiful Snow Day.

http://imgur.com/gallery/woBtl

Jake and I were talking earlier about what happened in Birmingham, which is where he’s from and his family still lives. Was this a case of gross mismanagement of resources, or a lack of resources upon which to call? We can’t say for sure, but there is a sneaking suspicion that someone played fast and loose and the whole city is now paying for it. Several relatives and friends have sent us photos of and told us stories of having to abandon their cars and walk to the nearest safe place for the night. News reports and photos show wrecks and lost cars littering highways covered in packed ice. It’s ridiculous.

Jake and I stayed in last night to watch the State of the Union and waited impatiently for watch the snow fall. It wasn’t until around 8pm that any real accumulation began to take hold where we live, but we did venture out to RTP this morning to check on his lab. On the way we spied pretty well maintained main roads (read: 147 got salted and ploughed), but a lot of ice and snow on some of the back roads and residential streets—which is exactly what one should expect in a southern city the day after a 3″ of snow fall.

However, here in the south, snow freaks people out worse than Godzilla in downtown Tokyo. What’s making all of this into a major news story is the people, not the snow. This wasn’t a blizzard. There weren’t even major winds. And we were prepared for it for almost an entire week. So why are there so many accidents in Birmingham and Atlanta? Because people were out driving in weather conditions they were not prepared for. Yes, the roads should have been salted and sanded, but folks also should have headed home before the powder started to fall. There’s no excuse for children having to stay overnight at their school because the district didn’t close early, but at least they weren’t riding home on the bus without seatbelts. Local government dropped the ball and people in positions of authority made bad decisions.

In the relative calm of Durham, I set up the GoPro on our porch to capture a timelapse of the snowfall. It only ran for about two hours before the battery died, but you can see snow starting to pile up in the last two seconds. I was honestly surprised to see that our office was closed this morning, but more than happy to sleep in and stay home. Also, snowball fights are pretty awesome.

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