Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Don't Complain About Another City's Snow Handling Skills

During this morning's metro ride, taken because the federal government opened on time despite the 5 inches of snow on my sidewalk, two women from the midwest quipped, "I can't believe the schools around here are closed; DC can't handle it like back in Chicago."

At what point is it wrong for me to rebut publicly-aired opinions on a Metro train? I turned to these snowqueens and told them the following in so many words (of course I didn't, but they'll read this later and apologize, I'm sure).

To everyone who has ever turned their noses up at another metropolis because it can't handle X inches of snow, stop talking now. It is annoying that every winter someone must feel better about their home turf by disparaging another city's inability to handle as much snow nearly as well as their childhood local DPW.

A very scientific chart. The X-axis is snow fall and the Y-axis is arrogance. And yes, DC averages 22.3 inches of snow each season.

When it snows in Charleston, SC, for example, that's a major event because, um, it's the south where it doesn't snow. So most residents don't know how to drive in the snow because they have little opportunity to get experience. Even if a Charlestonian felt compelled to hit the road, I'd bet that most roads aren't plowed and treated because the local budget doesn't account for snow because, again, it doesn't snow there.

So you have two factors, inexperienced drivers and DPW budgets ill-equipped for more snow than the average amount. Take that and add a few inches as you head north and the scene repeats itself. The farther north you go, the more towns there are to look down at when boasting your area's civic snow handling pride. I'm sure DCers have wondered why Raleigh shuts down after two inches of snow.

Just what good is it for you to boast about your city's snowhandling skills? You're actually happy that you receive a foot of snow so regularly that it’s nothing, but routine? By all means enjoy being inundated with snow for 12 weeks and never seeing greenery until March. It isn't such a bad thing to have sunny days and dry lawns in January. This winter hasn’t been as kind though.

I admit to getting upset when area drivers go slower than necessary on snowy days, but I recognize residents don't drive enough on slick roads to get any better, just as a New Englander may think I don't go fast enough. It's all relative. Imagine what a Buffalo resident thinks when lake effect snow comes barreling through.

To everyone north of some city "that just can't handle snow like we can," take your civic snow pride and keep it to yourself unless you want someone south to visit in the winter and mention the warmer days you're missing out on because for some reason you don’t want to live in a nicer climate.

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