Coming from the Caribbean, one of the things I was most excited about was the idea of seeing snow for the very first time. Needless to say, as a resident of Georgia, this didn’t go as smoothly as planned.
For one thing, I couldn’t understand why every time I mentioned snow, people would snicker and give each other knowing looks–like there was some kind of inside joke I just didn’t know about. Finally one older woman said to me, “Baby, you won’t get any snow, not down here, you’re gonna have to go up north for that.”
I honestly became quite frustrated. Why was everyone trying to dash my hopes? But, I remained positive that come winter I was going to get my snow.
And so I waited, and waited. And finally in January of the following year, when it seemed like all hope was lost, the powdery mixture fell from the sky. To my surprise, it seemed that Georgia residents were just as excited as I was to see the snow come down. I guess, as the older woman rightly said, snow falling in the south is kind of a rare occurrence–and when it does happen, everyone gets excited and, well, a little crazy, too.
You want to see bread and milk disappear off grocery shelves like dew on a June morning? Just say the words “possibility of snow.” I mean, no bread, no milk, no juice, no gas at the pumps. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
And then comes the waiting game. Is it really going to snow? If it does, will it stick? How much will we get? Will they close the schools? Of course kids are thrilled by this last possibility, and they bundle up in front of the television, waiting for their school’s name to scroll across the red banner at the bottom of the screen. Adults wait too–for an early morning phone call telling them they don’t have to come in to work today.
Then, almost everything shuts down. Kids go outside to make an attempt at playing in the snow, making the most of whatever snowfall there is for snow angels and building haphazard, muddy snowmen. Grownups make hot chocolate, soup or chili, and everyone just has a good old time in the snow. (I jokingly tell people that Atlanta has the most disciplined snow I’ve ever seen. It moves in slowly and sprinkles over us for a few hours, maybe a day or two, leaving everything covered in its white blanket. Then it moves on, the sun comes out again, melting everything in its path, and it’s back to life as normal.)
Right now I know that northerners are probably shaking their heads in amusement. Our snow here is more like a couple of teaspoons compared to their shovelfuls (okay, bad comparison). But you get what I mean? And I have to admit it’s totally understandable when you see places like New York and Boston being slammed with record breaking snowfalls. Just take a look at this video of Boston’s snowfall last year–I couldn’t believe it. Can you imagine us having to deal with 108 inches of snow here in Georgia? It would be insane.
We have seen our share of serious snow accumulation over the years, though nothing quite as debilitating as what’s in that video. According to a news item in the AJC from March of last year, 8.3 inches of snow fell in January 1940, the most in Atlanta history according to the National Weather Service. Then there was the blizzard of 1993, dubbed the Storm of the Century, which people still talk about to this day. And let’s not forget the 4-plus inches of snow and sleet in 2011 that sidelined the entire city for almost five days.
Sometimes, like those rare instances, it can be brutal because we’re not really equipped to deal with such extreme winter conditions here. We are getting better, but a really bad snowstorm can still cause us some major hurt. Overall, I think we can usually take our snowfall in Georgia pretty much in stride. If and when it does come, we do our best to cope–be it with an unexpected 8 inches or the amusing one flurry.
Snowy Day: Stories and Poems edited by Caroline Feller Bauer
Snowy Weather Days by Katie Marsico
The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson
Southern Soups & Stews by Nancie McDermott