Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Snowstorm in Lexington, South Carolina

Yesterday at work, the alarm sounded and an announcement was made over the speaker. "We are closing due to inclement weather. Starting from 3:30pm until 5:30pm all personnel will leave the building in designated batches". They did it like this so that all 1,000 of us would not clog the roads by leaving all at once. A memo went around that the emergency generator had been tested and that there was an emergency supply of blankets, flashlights and canned food on the premises. Needless to say, we all left, laughing at the concept of snow in South Carolina and being snowbound. Snow in Lexington, we laughed. There'll be plenty Lexington closures. People panic at the first sight of snow, here.
The weather service had forecast snow. They had forecast snow all day and all night. When I awoke, this was the scene that lay before me. Snow as far as the eye could see. Not much chance of getting to work in that. Work had, of course, been delayed by a few hours with emergency contact numbers given to everybody.
The trees were all laden with snow that fell with a quiet flumphing sound to the ground below. The contrast between the blue of the sky and the white of the snow was stunning. Even more stunning or should I say amazing was that the meter on my digital SLR could cope with snow beautifully. I was expecting to do the usual 3 stops change in exposure to get good pictures.
 My car had a lot of snow and ice on and under it. I was interested to see the stalactites hanging from the undercarriage. I wondered briefly whether it would be possible to go to work in weather like this. I need not have worried as the roads were quite passable. It is the South, after all and snow just doesn't like around all that long.
I looked up and down the road to see it was absolutely passable and ventured out gingerly in my SUV. Sure - I have a big, tough SUV but it's not a really macho vehicle. It's got wide tires and has two wheel drive as opposed to four. It's nice but is not an off-road vehicle. Maybe I should say that I have used it off-road - normally on dirt tracks and Walmart's car park. Other than that, it is pretty much of a posemobile and not something to attempt to drive on snow.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I drove gingerly to work. Fortunately when I got to the bigger roads with more traffic, they were largely clear. I trundled onward into work and was one of the few that made it in. Several people lived in remote areas and the dirt tracks they lived along were impassible.
 And so went the great snowstorm of 2013. By mid afternoon, of course, it had all melted. This is the Deep South after all. It was, of course, characterised by panic buying of bread and milk in the stores.

Needless to say, the journey in was characterized by South Carolina drivers who were either creeping along at 20mph on patches of road where there was no snow or blasting along at 45mph. I hate snow driving and always seek to avoid it but the keys are maintaining a constant speed, planning four times further ahead, slow braking, slow acceleration, slow lane changes. In snow, the front wheels act as rudders and traction control must be turned off or you get nowhere.

When I finished work, there was still snow on the hood and roof of my car - all dry dusty, powdery
snow - not the wet, sticky kind I'm used to from Britain. Some had melted to form icicles on cars.
 This was the scene that greeted me when I woke. Snow still falling. It fell for quite a while - I was lucky to get to work. Those of us that did manage it were appreciated greatly. A stack of very big pizzas and wings awaited the entire staff for lunch. No drinks but as there already is free tea and coffee for all, it wasn't necessary.

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