Depending on where you live in the country snow days mean different things. For people in the northeast and midwest they are all but certain every winter, something to expect more than to get excited about. Yet in the south, they come with great anticipation and wonder.
While I’m not a meteorologist, I understand the basics. The collision of cold air and precipitation has to line up perfectly to produce snow, and this seems to be a very small window for those of us in south. Part of what makes a snow day so fascinating is the build up beforehand.
Usually a week before, the TV news will begin to speak of the possibility, or a snow flake might appear on our smartphone weather app. 2-3 days before predictions will be made about the timing and the amount of snow, still fairly conservative and with a qualifier of “if the temperature drops”. At this point there is a spark of excitement for school kids, wondering if there schedule will be disrupted.
1-2 days before the conversation gets louder: meteorologist become more confident in their predictions, usually increasing the amounts of snow and people begin to make contingency plans. I should note that any amount of snow brings the south to a standstill. Unlike our friends to the north, we do not plow away a few inches and keep our normal schedule.
With less than 24 hours before the snow a full-out frenzy ensues. Bread and milk are cleared from store shelves, meteorologists are giving an hour-by-hour breakdown, and the TV news has multiple reporters stationed at transportation hubs, DOT staging areas, and candid interviews in parking lots. All before the first flake.
Meanwhile teachers are left trying to contain squirly students who have heard the weather reports and are making plans of their own. All but certain they will be without school, they believe homework assignments are optional and studying is meaningless since school won’t be in session for the next test.
The day or night before a storm parents are waiting for the automated phone message, scrambling to cover childcare or their own work assignments. Kids are glued to the scrolling TV feed, waiting to see their school district.
As we all wait with baited breath for the first flakes, there is such excitement and wonder. The disruption of the normal routine by Mother Nature is seen as a welcome change to cold temperatures and short days.
And then it happens….the snow begins. Suddenly a quiet, calm seems to drape everything. Cars move slowly on the road, siblings stop fighting to watch out the window, TV news “extended coverage” finally has camera shots worth looking at, and we all stare in WONDER if these light, fluffy flakes falling from the sky.