2008-01-16

Snow and ice memo

It's time to dust off my snow memo to share with people who grew up in colder climates and are surprised at how easily schools and businesses close down for winter precipitation in Athens. Every time there are closings someone makes snide remarks about how Georgians freak out over snow, so I am here to educate you if you are one of these people.
  1. Snow versus ice: First of all, we don't close down for snow; we close for the threat of icy conditions. Because Georgia is warmer than the state you came from, the rare occasions of snowfall are quickly followed by melting then freezing temperatures, resulting in icy roads. I saw a town in New York shut down schools and colleges on a warmer winter day because the temperature had gone above freezing for a while and then there was an accumulation of ice. Georgia's cold days are like New York's warm days. Snow here melts and refreezes. More often we have a direct accumulation of ice from freezing rain rather than snow first.
  2. Snow and ice removal: We have lower gas taxes and our government doesn't maintain as many snow plows and sand and salt spreaders. This means our roads are more dangerous when there is frozen precipitation. No one uses snow plow attachments on their pickup trucks because snow is so rare. And it seems we still have fewer snow closings than colder states that have to be prepared.
  3. Power outages: Since icing is rare, when we do get ice it causes a lot of tree limbs to fall on power lines at once. Many customers are affected for long periods of time. If ice storms were more frequent there would probably be fewer and shorter power interruptions each time because the problem branches would already be out of the way. Schools and businesses don't like to stay open when there are threats of power interruption. Trees and branches block roads, too.
So much, then, for why snow and ice is such a big deal in Georgia. If you're one of those snide commentators mentioned above, now you know some of the reasons why frozen precipitation is a problem. It isn't because we're unfamiliar with it. Most people in Georgia are quite familiar with snow and ice because either they're new residents like you -- this is the fifth fastest-growing state in the country with residents moving in from other places -- or else they've been around snow in their school or military days.

3 comments:

Christopher Byrne said...

Hah! it is absurd when things shut down in this town because it might snow or we get a little accumulation. It is just ice, and not that much!

Adrian said...

Ah-ha, aren't you glad I could set you straight?

Christopher Byrne said...

heck no...:-)