In 1993, I got stuck in a hotel in Mobile, Alabama. Mobile is located on the southern coast of Alabama, situated on the Gulf of Mexico. The hotel waitress had said some bad weather was coming through, and although she was nervous about it, we didn’t pay her any mind.
In the middle of the night, the power went out. I walked to the balcony, opened the blinds, and saw snow. Snow, in Mobile, Alabama! Ya don’t see that every day! Alabama declared a State of Emergency, preventing anyone from road travel. They don’t have plows or salt trucks in Alabama.
Generators provided limited heat, so that it was about fifty degrees in the hotel, and emergency lights in the hallway were lit. The rooms had no power at all. The hotel could not provide enough blankets to keep everyone warm.
We walked to the grocery, but there was nearly nothing left to buy. The Waffle House across the highway had a generator and gas burners, so they were able to cook certain foods. Since they weren’t going to get any trucks in, food was rationed.
The hotel couldn’t kick all of its guests out that first morning, but that meant they also couldn’t check new guests in. Some people were kind enough to let strangers share their rooms, but dozens of people slept in the lobby, and in the hallways, and in their cars.
But there were other crises included: no hot water anywhere, people in wheelchairs stranded without elevators, screaming babies, people without essential meds, flight cancellations, people without cash and ATM’s not working.
SO…I think it’s time to stop making fun of the winter storms in The Deep South. People down there have been injured and killed in weather-related incidents. People have been unable to get to work, which means they’re losing income. They’ve lost power. They’ve wrecked their cars. People who think it’s chilly when it’s 70F are living without heat when it’s 20-30 degrees outside.
While I am a Yankee bitch, and one who likes winter, you gotta understand, they do not have real winters there. They have cold snaps. Their cold snaps are like those days in a northern fall, where the wind blows to let you know winter is on its way.
I will never forget the night it snowed in southeast Georgia, while I lived there. I will never forget the grown man outside, begging for someone to come pick him up because he couldn’t drive in the snow. It wasn’t even sticking! Still, he was terrified.
I can drive in the snow, because it’s a skill I learned and used most of my life, because winters without snow do not exist in Indiana.
Drivers in the south do not need that skill. They also don’t pay attention to their tire treads the way northerners do.
They don’t all drive around with jumper cables.
They don’t need wiper fluid the way we do. They don’t need the kind that doesn’t freeze, and they certainly don’t have a bottle in the trunk for frequent refills. I lived in Georgia for seven years, and I used my windshield wipers so rarely, I’m still not confident with all their speeds, and I still hafta look at the knob to figure out where my rear one is. I am not exaggerating. In those seven years, we did not even replace our wiper blades.
Drivers in The Deep South don’t have bags of sand or kitty litter in their trunks, either. If they have blankets back there, it’s only because of the beach. They do not own ice scrapers, snow shovels, or clothing with Thinsulate.
Most kids in southeast Georgia have winter coats that are made like comforters. We call them “puffies.” They’re warmer than a jacket, but they won’t see you through a northern winter. Mittens and gloves are not ubiquitous, but rather, must be hunted down or ordered online. No one in The Deep South cares about warm linings.
Schools in The Deep South do not teach the dangers of hypothermia, frostbite, or how to survive if you fall into frozen ice.
They are not familiar with icicles. They do not know that snow is an insulator. They have not been taught to alternate the layers of clothing they wear, or that hydration is equally important in cold weather.
They live in a nearly permanent summer. They have sun hats, coolers, and as many beach blankets as bath towels. They’re stocked up on insect repellent, sunscreen, and ice. Insulated cups are not a seasonal item, and neither is patio furniture.
Outdoor showers. Misting fans. Sleeper porches.
They grow oranges, lemons, peaches, pecans, and bananas in their yards.
I feel like I cannot possibly convey how different the lifestyle is from there to here. Snow and ice are anomalies for them.
Just think of it this way: If you go there in March to enjoy warm weather, palm trees, daiquiris, and naked feet, then you must understand snow and ice hold no position in that landscape. It’s a snowball’s chance in Hell.