Inclement weather are two words that will make a Charlottean gasp with dread. We are spoiled in Charlotte; we don’t usually have any kind of “bad” weather on a daily basis. The mountains usually block the storms traveling from the west, and we are too far inland from the coast to get scary flooding conditions. We are mentally and physically startled by the threats of Mother Nature. People settle in Charlotte for the weather, and then, mock us poor Southerners when we are distraught over the threat of snow and ice. We are distraught with good reason, through no fault of our own we are demoted to student driver level without instructors and bewildered first-time homeowners without competent real estate agents guiding the way. We truly fear winter weather conditions trapping us for days without milk and bread, cable or internet access. We simply do not have the equipment to shovel through, drive on, or melt snow and ice. Mock us all you want, but when there is a threat of bad weather, do not get in the way at the grocery store, or pass us as we drive inch by inch on the snow covered roads; you will soon realize our panic could be justifiably calamitous.
The Queen City inevitable first five steps to suspected, preeminent adverse weather conditions usually proceed like this:
- Doubling or tripling the amount of snow or ice predicted…Weather forecaster instruments simply cannot be trusted when it comes to Charlotte weather.
- Stocking up on bread and milk at our local Harris Teeter, Food Lion, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. These are survival staples that will apparently get you through any apocalyptic event.
- Salting every inch of your sidewalk and driveway, just in case. Adding some of your neighbor’s kitty litter for good measure. The goal is a thick, granola crunch when you walk.
- Talking about the weather …..Incessantly. Like a farmer. Like a farmer who will have to put sweaters on his cows and blankets on his pigs.
- When you see what could be a piece of fuzz floating in the air, but could also be the first flake of snow, leave work and get the kids from school. Immediately! Call all your relatives and friends, in state and out of state, to discuss the weather yesterday, today and tomorrow. Where you see one flake of snow, dozens, even trillions could follow.
The national weather service really does do a pretty good job of predicting true inclement weather. Panicking and wiping out the grocery shelves really isn’t necessary. Go to the grocery store only if you don’t have enough food for 1-2 days. Make sure all your flashlights are in working order and your phones are charged. If you have a wood burning fireplace, stock up on firewood. When the snow comes, hunker down and enjoy it. Snow in Charlotte usually stays around for only 1-2 days, which is good, because unlike our Northern neighbors, our snow stays pretty and shiny white, without mud and guck accumulating.
Ice is a much more serious situation for Charlotte and can lead to some harrowing situations. The Department of Transportation recommends staying home if the roads are icy. If you need to drive, increase the distance between you and other cars, and decrease your speed. Brake gently to avoid skidding. Turn on you cars headlights and be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and shady areas, which will freeze first. Assume everything that looks like water on the roads is black ice. Don’t pass snow plows or sanding trucks, what is in front of them is usually worse than the road behind them. The best and most important advice is stay put and watch the television scroll announcing all the closings with your kids, who are eagerly anticipating a day off of school. Take the day off too! Don’t forget to check on elderly neighbors who could use some help.
Charlotteans know their Southern roots well, and to be a true Southerner you must be prepared to react with grace to any situation. Preparedness is key for any host. Who knows if the neighbors will be out walkingand decide to pop in during the snow? If they do, you will have non- slip sidewalks crunchy with salt, a roaring fire, milk for your tea and bread for your sandwiches. A little bit of cranky Mother Nature does not paralyze the Queen City, it simply redirects the day!