Friday, January 29, 2010

A Snow Day in Nashville

Well kids, it's snowing in Nashville, or it has been for the last couple of hours. I'd say I had about an inch or two on my car when I walked outside.

Where I grew up in PA, we call this a "Tease." Teachers and students alike would sit in class and stare out the window knowing that this smattering was no justification for us to be at home, but we couldn't shake the thought, so the day was a wash anyway. We knew it was better to stay in school than to waste a snow day that we'd have to make up in June, but it wasn't much consolation at the time. We were all bitter.

Here in Nashville, this is somewhere between a "Blizzard" and "Armageddon." No joke. Let's just say that the weatherperson on the evening news lets it slip that there's a "30% chance of snow tomorrow." This is what happens:
  • Schools: county after county starts phoning in to cancel school for the next day.
  • There are bottlenecks at every grocery store and gas station full of all the people planning for aftermath to the tune of nuclear fallout. They are all buying bread and milk and gasoline.
  • Even the most level-headed of people break out their "the end is nigh" sandwich signs.
  • Driving: well, I'll get to that...
You non-Nashvillians probably think I jest. (Ok, the sandwich signs may be slightly hyperbolic.) I didn't believe it myself until I saw it with my own eyes.

Snow days (usually six inches or more) in PA were delightful. We'd all rush over to the biggest hill within range and start building sled/snowboard ramps. Moms and dads generally went to work knowing the kids would be too busy out in the snow to get into any trouble at home. When we were old enough to drive, we went straight to the high school parking lot to see who could turn the most do-nuts in their least until the police showed and told us to beat it. Those of us who had 4x4's, put them to the test seeking out the biggest snowbanks to drive through. We'd cut through corn fields, pretending that we could have sworn this was where the road was. Gosh I miss that.

Nashville driving is a bit of a nightmare when snow's NOT in the picture. Snow makes it crazy.

My first snow here in Nashville, I went to visit my sister Friday night to do laundry. She lived atop a hill off of OHB in Nashville. I awoke Saturday morning to about four inches of snow. Not thinking much of it, I borrowed my sister's Corolla to swing past the grocery store for something arbitrary. OHB is a rather hilly five-lane road in south Nashville and once I had a visual of it, I couldn't believe my eyes:

As if there were no lines on the road at all, there were cars, trucks, etc. pointed in EVERY direction on both sides of the road. Wheels were spinning madly, and cars were sliding uncontrollably. I stared in awe. I'd seen more order in the bumper cars at Hersheypark. Recalling my mission to mind, I proceeded to chart a course through the wreckage in the little Corolla...slowly weaving my way through the chaos. It was laughable at first, but soon rather became a nuisance.

Driving in the snow in a rear-wheel-driven vehicle is the most difficult snow-driving there is. Front-wheel-drive is far more conducive...that's what my sister's Corolla was. If you are driving a 4x4, you have NO excuse. Period.

Refuting Nashville snow-driving logic:
  • You CANNOT drive the same speed in the snow as you would on dry roads and expect to be able to control your car. You should be at half-speed or less.
  • Once your tires begin spinning, giving the vehicle more throttle will NEVER make your wheels grip.
Seriously, just drive slowly. Once your wheels lose grip, take your foot off the throttle and try again even more slowly. I repeat: DRIVE SLOWLY!

In about an hour, I'm going to meet Hugh "Sunday Bloody" Mundy at Percy Warner for a snowy trail run. A fellow PA boy, I don't worry about either of our driving capacities in getting there. I am a bit worried about what kind of traffic resistance we'll meet on the way. I'm even more worried about having to abandon my journey to help somebody out of a ditch.

All kidding aside, Nashvillians...don't drive in this stuff unless you must, and be careful out there!

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