Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Talking 'Bout the Weather

Snow in Churchville again. I looked out late last night and it was lightly snowing. So both hubby-Eric and I were up early this morning in case school was delayed. However, they are made of hardier stuff out here, and their snow is less deadly than Seattle's, so school was on time. Before Eric went out the door, I bundled up and shoveled the walk and the sidewalks, even though it was still snowing, because it's a heckuva lot easier to shovel when no one has walked on them. Unfortunately, just before I got to the sidewalk, a young man walked across the pristine snow in front of me. Getting his compacted footprints off the sidewalk was annoying. Because it was still snowing, I eventually gave up and went inside to cool down, warm up, and rest.

A couple hours later, the snow had stopped. So out I went again. This time I cleared off the driveway, and re-cleared the bits that I had gotten earlier but had been re-snowed upon. The older neighbor next door came out and started shoveling, so I helped him, getting the sidewalk up to his driveway for him, then alternating with him on the rest of the sidewalk. In return, he sprinkled some snowmelt pellets on my portion of the sidewalk in preparation for the possible freezing rain later this afternoon. It started to very very lightly snow while we were working, but nothing too impressive. I left the shovel and broom next to the front door when I came in so I could shovel again if necessary.

The snow in Churchville is nothing like the snow in Seattle. I always wondered why people called Seattleites wimps for our reaction to snow, but now I completely understand. In Seattle you cannot go more than a half a mile without running into a hill. Now, Seattle hills aren't scary to people who live in Seattle, but on the East Coast what we call a "hill" they call a "mountain". To Seattleites, a "mountain" must have snow on it year-round, otherwise it's just a hill. Some hills are bigger than others, true, but a mountain must have at least one glacier to truly earn the name. In any case, if you drive around the Seattle area, I wager you won't find many level places, and certainly none that aren't surrounded by hills that you have to go up in order to conduct your daily business.

In addition, snow in Seattle is wet. In Churchville, I can literally sweep most of the snow away with a broom. It's dry powder, the stuff we heard about as kids but never experienced in Seattle itself. Because in Seattle the stuff we call snow is wet, slushy, and turns to ice the instant it hits our hilly roads. And so you have a deadly combination of ice and hills. Add in that snow is relatively rare in Seattle, and you also have a lot of inexperienced drivers who haven't dealt with enough snow to remember the basics they ought to know. Mixed in, of course, are an elite group of skiers, who think they know how to handle the snow, although about half of them are wrong because the snow up in the mountains is drier than the snow in Seattle. Then there are the SUV drivers who don't realize that their special all-wheel drive will certainly get them going, but isn't going to help a lot when they need to stop.

So in Seattle, when you get an inch or two of snow, everything shuts down. The schools are closed because it isn't worth a child's life to risk going out on the hills of ice with the insane Seattle drivers. Businesses close to try to keep insane people off the roads. And everyone calls Seattleites snow wimps. Meanwhile, in Churchville, we get three plus inches, and not one district closes in the area. Because this much snow is trivial here. Everything is flat. The snow itself is dry and easy to remove. When the snow is compacted it does get slippery, but everyone drives slower in the snow because they are used to it, and there aren't any hills to make stopping impossible, like in Seattle. For an example of a Seattle hill, check out this video, particularly 3 minutes in (if you watch nothing else, the sequence starting about 2:45 is a classic demonstration of why you don't drive on certain hills in Seattle in the snow):

Many thanks to Roger for the link to that video from the comments in my last weather post.

In any case, I'll update this post if anything really interesting happens with our weather for the rest of the day. I'm not counting on it, but I'm worried about the freezing rain prediction just enough to be glad the neighbor put those snowmelt pellets on our sidewalk.

UPDATE: The dreaded freezing rain did not arrive, but some of the snow has melted, particularly in the middle of the street and near the house. In fact, our house is growing some truly wicked cool icicles. The current forecast, which changes about every hour, says we might get up to 4 more inches of snow tonight... but maybe not. And if we don't get it tonight, we'll probably get it on Thursday... possibly. We're still under a Winter Weather Advisory, though, not a storm watch, so I'm not terribly frightened.


Roger Owen Green said...

You're welcome.
Today's forecast for Albany - up to 3 inches of rain. Expect localized flooding.

Tegan said...

We've got freezing fog this morning, but the dreaded rain/snow didn't materialize. Yet. Knock on wood.