I come from a place that gets snow in the winter.
So when word got around that there was going to be snow here in Nashville – maybe up to a foot – I was curious to see how the Music City would handle it. It was like being a kid again, the morning of the storm; waking up, running to open the curtains to see what wintery wonders lay outside. And I saw this:
It was, needless to say, a bit of a let down. Less than an inch, but the city had ground to a halt. The roads were empty, businesses were closed, pedestrians were bundled up like they were trekking through an arctic wilderness. Less than an inch and it was like the FREAKING APOCALYPSE.
Now, to put this in perspective, the Boston area has gotten about 7.5 cumulative FEET of snow over the past couple weeks. This is what my parents’ house looks like:
They’ve gotten one to three feet at a time without a single day above freezing to melt any of it. It’s blown in drifts up to the roof (see above) thanks to a gentle
hurricane force breeze that also brings a windchill close to -38 degrees fahrenheit at the right time of day. Despite all this, they’ve managed to get out of the house, go to work, and generally continue their lives. Which isn’t to say that they haven’t been trapped at home a few days, but they make it work.
Here in Nashville, I’m on day two of lockdown from this storm. A lot of the issue is that it dumped quite a bit of ice (which I spent last night chipping off my car) and that is hard to deal with. You can’t just plow it, after all. Except it started as slush in the road that could have totally been plowed, but it wasn’t. They plowed the main roads once early in the day, and decided that was enough.
When people told me that they get ice in the South, I was expecting some miraculous form of weather that I’ve never experienced before. It was described to me with such awe and terror, some sort of natural disaster. The ice, it was explained, is why they struggle so much with winter weather. It’s way harder to deal with than snow. But when I saw what the ice was, I realized we totally get it in the North East.
A few years ago during winter storm Nemo, the Boston area got about 3 feet of snow in 36 hours. They made it illegal to drive in Massachusetts for a full 24 hours. Drifts were deeper than my waist, people were cross-country skiing down Comm Ave, and everything was covered in ice. It had blown on to every north-facing surface. Like this lamppost:
Yet, within 24 hours, we were back on the roads like nothing had happened. Every winter is spent negotiating ice coated sidewalks and slush covered streets while carrying heavy bags of groceries. Months of this. We have months of long-term, caked on ice, but we make it work.
We salt and we sand and we plow and we prep. None of which seems to happen here in Nashvegas. A lot of it is a lack of resources, but apparently this happens once a year. It’s not that much of a surprise or some freak of nature. It’s a pretty regular event, though a still infrequent one. Yet there are no resources allotted for it and little effective prep-work done. And I can see how it might be hard to allot funds for something you might use two or three days out of the year, but it’s probably about equal to the revenue lost when the whole city has to shut down for days.
Look, I’m not meaning to blame or shame Nashville, but coming from the land of this:
…you can understand how I find this reaction a bit, well, ridiculous. I’m trying to understand you, Nashville, I really am. I know this isn’t your forte; I’ve seen how you drive in the rain and that’s not pretty either. But basic winter weather needn’t be a natural disaster. Maybe we can start thinking of having, like, two plows next year instead of one? Or maybe some salt? Or sand? Just a friendly suggestion from someone grew up in a place where you kept kitty litter in your trunk from November through March.Stay safe and warm, Nashvegas!