By Lisa Batten Kunkleman
We don’t need a snow blower in Charlotte. We just need a broom and perhaps to puff out our cheeks, pucker our lips and blow. Our snow tends to be light and wispy bordering on wishful thinking most of the time. With our latest forecast for snow we watched tiny flurries lift our hopes for a moment before dashing them mere moments later, dissolving into a colorful sunset.
Now ice is a different matter. We know how to have an ice storm and are masters of the milk and bread dash in preparation for those famous milk sandwiches. We also clear the shelves of rock salt, batteries, snow shovels, sleds, and shredded cheese. Sorry, I went back to the dairy aisle for that last item.
The city closes for good reason. Roads shouldn’t be used to play bumper cars. Even if people claim they can drive in ice, don’t believe it. Vehicles don’t come equipped with skate blades or skis for tires so there is no way to have traction. I’ve yet to see a car angle the tires in a V and pizza to a stop. That’s ski talk.
In the interest of safety and keeping the streets clear for emergency vehicles, people are encouraged to stay home when ice storms come. People make fun of the south closing down for our tiny amounts of frozen stuff but trust me, we’re better off avoiding the road if possible. Without enough equipment to clear roads, the accident count is ridiculous with folks trying to drive in ice.
Power can be a real bugger in ice storms. As a Tree City, USA, once our ample tree canopy is slathered in ice, the weight of the limbs lying or breaking across the above ground electric lines often causes massive power outages. Our family has an additional issue to deal with when ice storms hit. Our farm, nestled in suburbia, still runs on well water, and that well needs electricity to pump the water up and into the house. That means if our power goes out, we have no water or electricity. It’s like Little House on the Prairie for us. At the threat of an ice storm we all know what to do, “just in case.”
- Hoard some water: We might look like over zealous survivalists hoarding jugs or large pots of water in our guest bathtub for drinking and hygiene, plus filling our extra horse trough so we can flush toilets if the power goes out but experience is an excellent teacher. We’ve gone without water enough to know it is no fun. With a house full of teens, being prepared just in case is a good thing. If we don’t need that reserved H2O we’re supplied with water for making lots of pasta and tea and the horses have plenty to drink.
- Get a shower: Nobody wants to get stuck feeling gross and flat-headed for several days if there’s no water and you sure don’t want to wash your hair with ice cold water that was stashed in the jugs in the guest bathtub. So everybody gets another shower even if they recently took one or will take one in a few hours if by some miracle the power stays on. They do it, “just in case.”
On a night when we’re scheduled to break our record low with single digit cold weather, we put a fresh light bulb in the pump house to keep the “well pump” nice and cozy so it won’t freeze. We’ll also let the faucets inside the house drip and pray the pipes don’t freeze, then burst. Who needs that?
With the latest storm’s end, school had a two-hour delay after two snow days off and that’s just the way it is with snow days in Charlotte. We’re expecting to hit a low of five degrees tonight, which is a huge deal for us. We’re breaking records with our cold weather.
Our winter weather is nothing compared Boston, the Midwest, or even the mountains of North Carolina where our oldest daughter lives and now knows what really cold means. I hear it’s thirty below in Wisconsin and school is in session. We have no reason to complain. We barely make the news unless our peach or strawberry crops are endangered but this is us. Charlotte, NC in the snow that didn’t really happen. We got sleet and ice instead. At least at our house, we were wishing for fatter flakes and snow cream. We were wishing for snowmen and sledding. The latest snowstorm turned into a really cold “cold front.” The kids had two days out of school without a snowman in sight. Hmmm… I hope nobody from Boston reads this.
Disclaimer: the photo is not of this year’s snow. The sun came out and it melted too fast to get a picture.