Frosty Oak Leaf (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Frosty Oak Leaf, Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia, December 14, 2014

Frosty Oak Leaf, Lake Lanier, Gainesville, Georgia, December 14, 2014

My son and I enjoyed viewing this frosty oak leaf on the shore of Lake Lanier in Gainesville, Georgia while camping last weekend.  The tiny icicles that formed on the bottoms of the stones were pretty neat, too!  Overnighting in freezing temperatures and taking in the sun’s warm afternoon rays, it was nice to enjoy the wintry outdoors.  I hope you enjoy the photo, too!

“Southerners Insist on Challenging Treacherous Weather Conditions” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Snow and Ice Melting on my Street, Snellville, Georgia, January 29, 2014

Snow and Ice Melting on my Street, Snellville, Georgia, January 29, 2014

Here we go again.  Here in the South, we are seeing yet another repeat of situations that have occurred in past winters in which there were treacherous icy and snowy conditions outside.  A couple of years ago, there was a snow storm that came through the South, leaving the Atlanta, Georgia area, where I live, shut down for one entire week.  Yesterday and today, we are, again, experiencing icy and snowy conditions that have caused numerous vehicle collisions and stranded 1,000s of motorists.

Obviously, folks have not learned from past experiences, is all I can think of.  When there is two inches of snow that covers wet roads that have turned icy, that is a good enough reason for me to stay put.  I don’t understand why other folks don’t do the same, unnecessarily risking life and limb to challenge Mother Nature, and often, losing in doing so.

My Son Having Fun Sledding, Snellville, Georgia, January 29, 2014

My Son Having Fun Sledding, Snellville, Georgia, January 29, 2014

Two years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Atlanta Journal Constitution about this same type of situation.  While my letter was right on topic and publishable, it was declined because there were already other letters on this issue that had been published, as I was informed by a newspaper staff member.  That’s fine, but I would like to make my point, again, that plows with salters and sanders are necessary in Georgia, and in other places throughout the South, for that matter.

Snowy Trees in Georgia, January 29, 2014

Snowy Trees in Georgia, January 29, 2014

The argument against such plows about which I read in media in the past is solely due to cost.  However, I believe that it is better to be safe than sorry.  To me, it would be worthwhile for state departments of transportation to invest in some plows with salters and sanders, and to plow at least main roads and highways when weather conditions become as treacherous as they are now.

I have heard and read blame directed toward the state transportation authorities for not ensuring these measures.  I have also observed and read in the media in the past that counties and municipalities in Georgia, particularly in and around the Atlanta metro area, have taken it upon themselves to invest in plows and to do plowing in weather conditions in which it is needed.  In light of all considerations and observations of which I am aware, I believe this is a smart move.  In the long run, these measures will have prevented innumerable vehicle accidents from occurring as well as having maintained the safety of those folks who insist on being out on the roads in such treacherous icy and snowy conditions.

Snowy Bushes in Georgia, January 29, 2014

Snowy Bushes in Georgia, January 29, 2014

Really, the best place to be when experiencing snow and ice in the South is indoors.  Emergency responders and the National Guard are over-extended when situations such as this occur, and people do not simply stay indoors.  Because there is such a lack of investment in snow removal machines and equipment in the South, folks here are forced to wait it out until the snow melts and safer road conditions return, or they can continue to try to challenge these type of conditions, and lose.

In places where there is little to no snow removal equipment used, why insist on challenging treacherous weather conditions?  In dealing with such treacherous icy and snowy weather conditions, it is better to be safe than sorry.    I believe that is the best philosophy in situations such as these.   On the other hand, however, life in the South should not come to a halt due to snow and ice.  People and the economy are placed at risk, and both suffer unnecessarily because of the lack of resources to effectively deal with the effects of winter weather.  Positive and progressive change are necessary in this area.

References:

Crary, D. (January 29, 2014).  “Snow and ice send South’s flagship city reeling.”  MSN.com.  Retrieved on January 29, 2014 from http://news.msn.com/us/after-storm-helicopters-search-for-stranded-drivers

Henry, R., & Bynum, R. (January 29, 2014).  “1 day after storm, Atlanta highways still gridlocked.”  MSN.com.  Retrieved on January 29, 2014 from http://news.msn.com/us/snowstorm-slams-the-south-leaves-drivers-stranded

Sen, C. (January 29, 2014).  “How 2 inches of snow created a traffic nightmare in Atlanta.”  MSN.com.  Retrieved on January 29, 2014 from http://news.msn.com/us/how-2-inches-of-snow-created-a-traffic-nightmare-in-atlanta

“Polar Vortex 2014” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Snowy Landscape Photo (Retrieved from http://wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/nature/snow-steps-in-winterland_62252.htm, January 7, 2014)

Snowy Landscape Photo (Retrieved from http://wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/nature/snow-steps-in-winterland_62252.htm, January 7, 2014)

The cold is no joke!  The biggest weather – and news – event occurring during the past couple of days has been the 2014 Polar Vortex that has swept across the United States.  Extremely frigid polar air from the Arctic has dipped down to the Deep South of the US.  This morning, January 7, 2014, in Snellville, Georgia, near Atlanta, where I live, the temperature at 7:00 AM was 3 degrees Fahrenheit, and that’s without including the wind chill factor!  Already at around 9:00 PM this evening, the temperature was back down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit after reaching a high of about 25 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon at about 3:30 PM!  One online news article (Henry, 2014) reported that temperatures around parts of the US are colder than those currently in Antarctica!

It is definitely true that people – especially those folks in the South who are not accustomed to such icy temperatures – may not be entirely aware of the dangers of extreme cold.  Regarding myself, being originally from the Buffalo, New York area, I know about the cold, the dangers of it, and know not to take any unnecessary risks, nor to potentially place myself or others in danger in such frigidly cold weather.   Extreme cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia, and/or death.  It is not something with which to play around or take chances.

I am an individual who remembers the Blizzard of 1977 where I lived in Collins, New York.  I was 6-years-old at the time, and in the first grade.  Even at such a young age, it was exciting for my brother and I to remain at home for two straight weeks due to the school closures related to the Blizzard conditions.  I recall and have photographs that my parents took of my brother and I standing atop snow drifts that were as high as the roof of our garage.  Similar drifts created by snow plows clearing snow from the roads caused rises of snow that were of the same height.  Once the blizzard conditions passed, it was fun to play outside in the snow for awhile, but not long enough to get too cold.

In my mid-teens, there was a time when I believed I could outsmart Mother Nature by going out and riding snowmobile in temperatures that were less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and with wind chills of about -20 degrees Fahrenheit.  I promised that I would not be gone long, and was not riding for more than one hour when I returned home and was unable to feel my left hand.  I had decided to return when my toes and feet began tingling, but did not realize that I had already lost sensation in my hand.  I only realized it upon taking off my glove upon entering the house, remembering that I could not feel anything in my hand.  It was the beginning of frostbite.  Thankfully, it was not serious, and my mom saw to it that my hand was warmed carefully and quickly.  However, it is an experience that I have always remembered, and no longer take risks in the extreme cold with Mother Nature.

What is tricky in the South is that it can be frigidly cold, but there not be a speck of snow on the ground.  For me, coming from Buffalo, that is always a big disappointment.  When there is cold, I have always come to expect snow to accompany it.  However, that is rarely the case in the South.  And, that is something that can fool people into a false sense of security.  Simply because there is no snow on the ground does not necessarily mean that it is not cold – or even frigidly cold, as it has been here for the past couple of days now.  One must get bundled up if going outside, must not remain outside for very long, and must be assured of having a warm place to go – or even emergency measures to use – if one’s vehicle breaks down or if one’s utilities stop working in one’s home, for examples.

Also, what I noticed this afternoon when I went out to run a couple of quick errands was that people on the road are impatient with other drivers.  For goodness sakes, it is COLD outside!  I was out and about for only 20 minutes or so, and within that time, there were already two drivers who honked their horns at other drivers who were stopped at traffic lights, and who did not resume driving quickly enough for them once the traffic light changed from red to green.  People are not used to the cold.  Vehicles are not used to the cold.  And, people need to give each other more understanding and be more patient in extreme weather events such as this.  The buses may be off the roads because schools are closed, however that does not mean that some folks are entitled to race down the empty speedway through the city.  People should be more cautious and careful, and give each other more consideration in situations such as this.  That is definitely the intelligent thing to do.

So, be careful out there in the cold.  And, don’t go out into it if you don’t have to.  Bundle yourself up, make sure there are extra blankets in your vehicle – and for many, a shovel and even hot packs.  People who are used to the cold such as skiers and snowmobilers from the North such as myself know these things.  Listen to your body when you are out in the cold.  And, better yet, listen to your brain.  Stay inside where it is warm unless you have to go out.  Don’t take any unnecessary risks, or place yourself or others in potential danger.  Hopefully, you have some food stocked up, or if you don’t, get some when the temperatures have risen during the day.  Stay warm, stay healthy, stay inside as much as possible!

References:

“2014 North American cold wave.”  Wikipedia.  Retrieved on January 7, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_North_American_polar_vortex

Henry, R. (2014).  “Polar air blamed for 21 deaths nationwide.”  MSN News; Associated Press.  Retrieved on January 7, 2014 from http://news.msn.com/us/polar-air-brings-single-digit-cold-to-east-south.