Thursday, January 30, 2014

Unpreparedness

The scenes are unbelievable to many living in my area, an area that can easily get in excess of 80 inches (200 cm) of snow in a year.  In fact, Binghamton, New York is one of several participants in something called the Golden Snowball award.

Basically, five upstate New York cities compete for the most snow of the season.  Right now, Binghamton is at some 56 inches - measured at the airport, that is.  Where I live, in the Susquehanna River valley, we get a bit less.

A 2 1/2 inch snowfall would hardly be noticed here. Out come the snowplows, the snow blowers, and the salt trucks.  We have the equipment.

For the southern United States, 2 1/2 inches of snow is a disaster.  Earlier this week, Atlanta, Georgia (with a population of around 5.5 million) along with other parts of the south, were thrown into gridlock.  People were stranded for up to two days on Interstates.  Children slept overnight in school. Stores and people opened their homes so people could be warm.  A Facebook page (or more) was created to help the stranded.

I know what it can be like, because, years ago, I saw it for myself, and it's actually a reason why I now live in upstate New York.

Simply stated, where there is no snow removal, the snow quickly turns to ice.  And, since they have no way to deal with it, the only way these communities can deal with it is to shut down.  They can do that if the event is rare.  I heard, as one example, that the nearest snowplow to Savannah, Georgia is some 300 miles away.  Savannah, a much smaller city, did shut down.  People were told to stay home.  Eventually, it would warm up.

But Atlanta didn't shut down.  They weren't prepared.  In the South, at least 10 died from this storm.

It's above freezing now in those areas of the South, but they won't be any more prepared for the next event, if you believe history.  But, the climate is changing.  Dispute the cause if you want, but the weather isn't what it used to be.

Now, I promised you a personal story.

In the winter of 1976, my spouse was in the Air Force, and stationed in Wichita Falls, TX.  Wichita Falls is noted for its tornadoes and its summer heat, not its snow removal abilities.  On November 13-14, a weekend, Wichita Falls received around six inches of snow.

The city (of around 100,000 people) was shut down for nearly a week, because it stayed cold.  And, they had to call out the National Guard.  My spouse helped with the efforts.  I was fortunate, as I was not working at the time.

Later, in Arkansas, we had more fun and games (not) in the land of no-snow-removal, except they do get snow there every year, and it doesn't necessarily melt right away, either.  After five years of coping with the Northwest Arkansas winters (living out in the country made it even less fun) we called it quits and decided that if we had to struggle with winter, we would do it back in New York. (As my regular readers know, that wasn't the only reason why we left Arkansas, but it was a consideration.)

So here we are, living on the edge of the snowbelt.  It isn't fun, and right now, in fact, it is two degrees above zero.  Yesterday, at my son's house, it was -17. But, compared to other parts of upstate New York, it hardly snows here at all.  And we do get snow emergencies.

Not just with 2 1/2 inches.

Climate change.  Love it or hate it, we have no choice but to endure.

What is your weather like right now?

4 comments:

  1. I am in Central Florida where it was a near freezing 43 degrees this morning. Whenever our temperatures drop into the 40's, we have a lot of students absent from school. Many of them own hoodies and light jackets, but most don't own coats. It'll be back in the 70's in a couple of days, though. I do love my weather!
    Stay safe and stay warm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We were in Florida for a week last March and it was bitter cold at times (with wind) but it was so good (and refreshing) to see all the green. And yes, I couldn't believe stores in Florida selling coats, the first winter I lived there (I lived in Tampa for two years, many years ago). The second winter? I wore a coat.

      Delete
  2. I really don't cope well with the cold. I mean, I always wrap up warm in England ! Brrr!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have a feeling your cold over there is a damp cold - although I've never experienced it personally. The cold in my native New York City was a damp cold because we were so near the ocean, and the dampness makes a big difference.

      Delete

Hello! I welcome comments, as long as they are civil, are on topic, and do not contain profanity, advertising of any kind or spam. Any messages not meeting these criteria will immediately be composted, and my flowers will enjoy their contents.