Friday, January 6, 2017

Southern Ice and Northern Fire

Like most people, it's fun to laugh at southern drivers in inclement weather. It's like watching a toddler who just learned how to walk try to run, not understanding why he's suddenly face-down on the floor.

I live in the north. Today, it happens to be a temperature of -1 and the windchill is -15 (which is technically the temperature that matters because that's what you FEEL when you are outside). We haven't had snow in a month. That's unusual. Winters here are normally more snowy than this season has been. When we do get snow, it's 3 or 4 inches two or three times a week, or 7-12 inches all at once.

And you know what? This southern California-raised girl loves it. I love snow. Always have. And now that I live in the north, I want more snow.

The north has snow removal down to an art. It's awesome. Get 10" on Sunday night, main roads are plowed and you still have to go to work on Monday morning. It is just how it is. If it weren't this way, the northern states would close from Thanksgiving to the Spring equinox. But,

southern states? They get more ice than snow, and they don't even get that very often.  Further south and you get rain, and further still it's so dry you're not sure how they survive without water.

When they DO get snow, it's just fun to watch for us northerners. Just like when we get 90 or 95 degree heat warnings in summer, the south laughs at us. Same show, different season.

But here are the facts using Rockford, IL (small town not too far north), and Oklahoma City (big city not too far south):

Rockford, IL has a population of just over 150,000, is approximately 62 square miles, and has 24 salt/plow trucks.

Oklahoma City, OK has a population of approximately 575,000, is approximately 602 square miles, and has 34 salt/plow trucks.

OKC has almost 4x times more people than Rockford, and is almost 10x times larger than Rockford.
So the traditional thinking is a city that large should be able to handle the snow and clear the main roads fairly quickly. It's a large city for goodness sake!

Calculating the number of miles each truck must plow:
One Rockford truck must plow 2.6 square miles per truck.
One Oklahoma City truck must plow  17.2 square miles per truck.

Because they don't get as much snow or as often as northern cities (even the small ones), they don't need to devote a large portion of their budget for snow removal. Imagine the public outcry if OKC increased their number of plow trucks to 235! Because that's what it would take to equal 2.6 miles plowed per truck like Rockford. Having 235 trucks for a once or twice a year event is ridiculous and the public would be well within their right to demand resignations and refunds!

Driving curve: because the south doesn't receive much snow or very often, drivers who do venture out have less experience driving in such conditions.  Think about that. If you only do something once, maybe twice a year, how proficient are you at it? The learning 'curve' is more like a slight inclined-straight line. It takes many years for a southern individual driving in inclement weather to gather the skills a northern driver obtains in one or two seasons driving in snow.

But the flip-side of this equation is true, too. Southerners are more able to withstand heat than northerners. When I lived in the south, summers with week-long stretches of 100 degrees were not uncommon. Northerners turn into molten goo with whiny mouths when the heat reaches 90 or above.

Storms are another difference. I miss my southern storms! Here in the north, if it storms everyone runs around like chicken little. Tornadoes? Holy moly northerners lose their minds while southerners grab a beer and sit on the porch.

Southerners laugh at northerners in heat and storms, northerners laugh at southerners in snow and ice.

It's six of one, half a dozen of another. It's all in what you're used to, what is 'normal' for any given region.

Yes, it's okay (and fun) to laugh at others for their reactions.
It's not okay to judge them because you know something they don't.

Think of the similarities: Couldn't we just all agree to laugh at the WMB'ers in both the north and south who in ANY type of inclement weather clear the shelves of water, milk and bread at their local Wal-Mart?

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