01 March 2015

Snow Thoughts

In the last 2 days, we saw 8.6 inches of snow here in Albuquerque. It got me thinking about how different areas deal with their snow...

In Northern California, I grew up "visiting" snow. It was an hour or two drive away; it was for fun - sledding, angeling, skiing, snowmanning, etc. We always added the snow kit to the trunk (it was never a permanent fixture). It included things like blankets, snacks, crack-and-heat devices, shovel, and coveralls. Most significantly, it also included chains. There would always be a point on the road where people pulled over to put on the chains - you would be turned back if you didn't have them, and ticketed if you found a way to continue on without them.

At one time, we looked into moving to Denver. The biggest question I had was "how will I deal with all that snow?!?" Turns out that (1) it doesn't stick around very long, (2) there is an infrastructure to get rid of it (3) people generally use snow tires in winter, and switch back to "normal" tires for the rest of the year (and guess what? They keep their convertibles! Not every car is 4-wheel drive!)

Well, we didn't end up moving there, but I did spend more than a few snowy days in Iowa. I think the thing that shocked me the most was that tire chains were illegal! Such a difference - from legally required, to illegal to use. The other whaaa??? moment was hearing that people were required to clear the snow from the sidewalks in front of their homes within a certain time. Of course, it makes sense, but it wasn't anything I had ever had to think about before. Iowa also had "emergency snow routes" - designated roads that got cleared (sanded and plowed) first when it snowed. Woe to you if you parked on these streets on a snow day. People regularly listened for school and business closures due to snow, and planned their routes according to plow schedules. And oh my goodness, those piles of dirty plowed snow! Ugly mountains that lasted for months! (Yeah, not a fan)

Back to here in Albuquerque... Our snow days are normally fairly spread out, usually just a dusting, and often followed immediately by sunny days. Snow is not a big issue. Except for the flukes :-\
There are a few snow plows, and the freeways have priority for getting cleared, but snowfall like this last one are dealt with by encouraging people to stay home, closing some overpasses until the ice melts, and calling all hands to the plows (there isn't much info on just how many there are, but my guess is... two!)
So far, we've been able to shop ahead and stay tucked up at home with hot soup and a good book - all in all, not a bad way to wait for the melt...

Monument to the Donner party in the Sierra Nevada mountains in California.
It shows how deep the snow was from a freak storm.

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