What Southerners Need To Know About Northern Winters

Years ago on a visit to my hometown in the south I remember having a conversation with a family friend about the amount of snow Albany gets each winter. His reaction was “Your kids must have to change their wet clothes several times a day after playing in it!” The subsequent discussion we had about “the great invention called snow pants” stuck with me and since then I’ve tried to pay attention to the wintertime hassles that would probably astonish most southerners.

When a city has to deal with sixty or so inches of snowfall a season, it comes well-equipped with road salt and plows, of course. But have you ever stopped to consider that you can’t just push the white stuff—which soon turns revolting shades of gray, brown, or black—to the side? Businesses with huge parking lots like malls and supermarkets have to pay companies with big trucks to haul it away and dump it elsewhere. Otherwise you’d quickly have unsightly mountains at several locations on your property disturbing traffic flow and blocking the vision of drivers. In particularly snowy months homeowners have a hard time tossing the snow to the top of the piles lining their driveway. For those who live downtown it becomes a nearly impossible task. 

Another thing about food shopping is the ordeal of having to push your shopping cart to your car over bumps of ice and snow. The strength it takes to shove that wiggly four-wheeled buggy overloaded with groceries is undoubtedly good for your muscles but frustrating to the point of feeling impossible. Maybe someone could invent a northern version of Zumba involving dancing through parking lots with carts to winter-themed music! Naw, it would never catch on.


One thing I never imagined is that too much snow built up on the top of your house can back up under your shingles and leak inside or even cause the roof to cave in. Seriously! To remedy this somewhat rare but real possibility, roof rakes were invented. Naturally, only the foolish stand up on the roof during these precarious times, but the idea is to attempt to scrape as much snow off as you can from the ground holding this long-handled tool. A lot of it lands right in your face, sure, but the roof is safe and sound!

Why do people live up there, you’re probably asking yourself at this point. A very good question worthy of deliberation…many times a winter! Well, snow is pretty when it’s falling and coating all the shrubbery. The crystalline trees sparkle once the sun comes out. Our houses and pipes are well-insulated; there’s usually no need to run water from faucets during a cold snap. Oh, who am I kidding! I’d rather be dealing with sunburns and admiring palm trees.


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