You’re getting the hang of it, Chattanooga.
I stopped by the grocery store a little past 5 p.m. last Thursday, and there was still bread. There was still plenty of milk. The lines weren’t all that long. And nobody was freaking out.
When I walked back outside, the snow we were all waiting for was instead a fading, not-so-wintry mix, and the sun was peeking through the clouds. Sure, it was cold and windy, but it wasn’t that cold and windy. The roads were passable. And nobody was driving crazy.
We’ve been through this time and time again: talk of snow, but no real snow. There are those rare occasions when the Tennessee Valley sees substantial snowfall, but in the vast majority of cases, the prognostication seems to exceed the precipitation—if there’s any precipitation at all.
But notice that I said “seems.” When there isn’t any snow, we tend to blame the weather guys. “They’re always wrong!” we like to declare. But we hardly ever pat their backs when they’re right (which is the vast majority of the time), nor do we tend to complain on those days when they incorrectly predict rain and we get sun instead. Meteorologists use amazing, constantly improving tools to do their best to, essentially, predict the future. Most of the time, their predictions are accurate. Sometimes, they’re a little off. Every once in awhile, they’re way off. Sometimes, the weather is just going to do what it’s going to do. And though we can’t control what the weather is going to do, we can control our reaction to it.
For some reason, many Chattanoogans panic at the mere mention of snow. It doesn’t matter if the forecast also uses words like “a slight chance” or “light” or “dusting” or “flurries.” If the word “snow” is used at all, folks tend to lose their minds.
Granted, as a native New Englander, I fully recognize that Chattanooga is not used to the considerable snowfalls that I experienced growing up. We don’t have as many snow plows or salt and sand trucks, and people down here aren’t as used to shoveling their driveways as people are up there. But, again, as a former Yankee, I can also say that in the two decades I’ve lived down here, I’ve only seen one or two snowfalls that even began to push the boundaries of our winter storm readiness. In short, we actually do a pretty good job of handling the snow we do get. And we do a better job each time.
Here are some points to consider should the Scenic City ever see snow again:
—Buy all the milk and bread you want, but be prepared to have a milk and bread party in a couple of days because you’re not going to need it all.
—You are more likely to have to deal with ice than snow. And sure, it’s best to stay off the roads if you don’t have to go anywhere, but there’s little chance you’re gonna be stuck at home for more than a day, if that.
—If you have to go out, drive slowly. Keep plenty of distance between you and the cars in front of you and behind you, and never slam on your brakes. If you find yourself skidding out of control, take your foot off the gas and steer into the skid. Then again, do you really have to go out? Didn’t I just mention how it will all be gone tomorrow?
—Above all else, the next time we get some snow, enjoy it. Grab the kids and go sledding. Have a snowball fight. Build a snowmantaiteo.
Bill Colrus writes about (in no particular order) news, culture, music and media. You can find him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or reach him at email@example.com. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.
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