You Embarrass Me: Winter in Virginia

Look folks. We knew this was going to happen. We had almost a week of warning. It saturated morning radio, television, and the weather sites WAAAAY ahead of time. But really, did you expect civilization to collapse?

Yesterday kicked off the hysteria. Yinz raided all the grocery stores and took absolutely everything. Did EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU not have enough food to last the weekend? I’m not talking about a little stocking-up here. I’m talking about stray cans of beets rolling on the floor, water jugs picked through and tossed haphazardly around the aisles, and frozen food sections completely barren. You Virginians made out a snowstorm to be the apocalypse.

And of course, outside on the roads, white knuckled drivers hung on for dear life every time we approached within 10 feet of their vehicles. SNOWFLAKE! OMG WEZ GONNA DIE!!!

But then the blizzard actually started. By morning, we had 6-8" outside. But I didn’t know whether to be shocked or amused that NOT A SINGLE ROAD was plowed or salted by 1 pm. 1 pm! Now I’d understand if I lived on some residential backroad, but jeez Virginians, I live at a major intersection! You couldn’t at least get one road that borders me?

But it’s cool. I live next to the mall for a reason. So the girlfriend (also a Pittsburgher) and I suited up and head out to go shopping. Not 20 ft later, we found our first stuck motorist. As three guys and a cop tried to push him out of his divot, the driver’s face was one of sheer terror. It reminded me of a 4 year old that’s lost their parents or my guinea pigs when you approach their cage too fast. I wonder how they all felt when the 100-lb girlfriend, me, and a guy with a Minnesotta accent got him out in 10 seconds flat. “Step aside, gentlement. OK, driver, cut the wheel. Ready guys? Rock it…1-2-3. Aaaand he’s out.”

Of course, the mall closed at 2:30 so we didn’t actually get any shopping done. It’s probably for the best, though. You guys should probably just stay home until February.

Overall, congrats, Virginia. You’ve made it possible for the VA State Police spokeswoman to actually say “It looks probably a lot worse than it is.”

We had a total of about 4" of snow last week. Fortunately, it warmed up by about 20ºF and it melted quickly.

On the road home one day there was a BMW half in a ditch. (I live in a rural area, so the roads have ditches alongside them.) If I had a tow strap, it might have been pretty easy for me to pull him out in the Jeep. (The Prius doesn’t like snow.) Alas, I have no strap; and I also don’t have chains, which would have been helpful in such an operation. 4WD is fine, when care is taken; but I there was a good possibility I’d have needed the extra traction of chains to pull someone out of a ditch.

I do need chains for the Jeep and the Prius, for those times when we get some snow. But it’s not pressing, since conditions here rarely warrant them. Maybe when I do get chains, I’ll buy a tow strap as well.

I laughed out loud.

I remember winters in Richmond when I was a kid. We’d moved there from Indiana, where snow was, if not constant, at least common in the winter. Watching drivers skid on little more than heavy frost was a laugh riot. I especially enjoyed watching how little snow it took to close down schools.

We’ve got a lot here in Richmond (don’t know how many inches), but I’m angry this happened on a weekend instead of, say, Wednesday. Snow days are more fun when you don’t have to go to work!

No point in having plow trucks when you only get a storm every 30 years 

But really, the rush on stores is silly. Can you not hunker down for a day or two? We don’t keep a lot of food on hand but really. A couple of inches of snow != the end of the world.

We don’t even get concerned here until the snow is ACTUALLY ON THE GROUND. And it takes a few feet for it to make it a discussion around the office.

It’s funny that you mention Pittsburgh. That’s where my wife is from. That isn’t snow country. Getting 30 feet of snow (measured in one winter 2 years ago) is snow country. (sorry, not sure if I’m bragging or complaining).

I came across two girls on our road one time while they were stuck in their rental car. One girl threw up because she was so sure she was gonna DIE in the ‘wilderness’ (a mile walk to a state highway).

I was in a tee-shirt and tennis shoes. I stopped to help. They had called 911 and the fire department was on the way - only they did not know where they where. Poor fire volunteer fire department guys searched the whole valley before I could put a stop to it.

I’m not the fire department.

Shit, you could see my house from where they where ‘stuck’ and they called 911.
I pulled them out. Added 20 minutes to my day.

You get within 10 feet of the back of cars in a not very well plowed road in the middle of bad snow drivers? :dubious:

As a Montrealer living in central PA, I feel your pain.

  1. We were passing on the left.
  2. The snow had barely started. This was the night before, remember.

It’s true, metro DC including Virginia goes apeshit when snow hits. Usually even 3-6 inches will do it.

This is pretty apocolyptic by our standards though, we’re at 25" so far just today (I have had to shovel 3x so far), 3-4" more are expected, and Dulles supposedly averages just 23" for the whole year. The last time it was this bad was in 1996 when we had 24" in a day.

My Dad used to enjoy telling the story of flying into Lynchburg, having driven 35 miles through 6" - 7" of fresh snow to get to Detroit Metro, and walking over to the car rental to pick up the reserved car, only to be told that none were available. A glance at the rental parking lot revealed a lot FULL of cars. When asked about the discrepancy, the clerk noted that they had the cars, they just had none that they could rent out in the snowstorm. Another glance at the lot and its 1/2" dusting of snow prompted the comparison to the 6+" at the originating airport, to which the clerk replied, “You might be able to drive in this stuff, but no one around here, can, and we do not rent cars in these conditions.”

I sympathize with road departments that choose not to invest in tens of thousands of dollars in equipment that they will only use for three or four days each decade.
Cleaning out supermarkets seems a bit excessive, however.

This reminds me of the aftermath of a snowstorm years ago in Davenport, Iowa, when I stopped at a supermarket to pick up something for dinner. The entire meat case had been stripped bare, except for a solitary turkey ham.

The canned beet panic is harder to understand.

Yeah, people go pretty crazy when big snowfalls come to cities that don’t often get them. When i lived in Baltimore, weather reports predicting anything more than a couple of inches of snow generally set off mad hoarding at the supermarkets.

I’m pretty jealous right now. While i do love the San Diego weather (in about an hour, i’m going jogging in shorts and a t-shirt), i really miss the fall and winter of the east coast, especially the snow. I was in Baltimore in 2003 when we got 26 inches (the record for a single fall in Baltimore), and it was great. No cars anywhere, because the city had almost no trucks. We were walking up and down the main streets in the middle of the road, and everything was eerily quiet.

I was in one of the VA suburbs of DC about 15 years ago, when they had a half-inch of snow. Grocery stores were stripped. Schools were competing with each other to be the first to announce cancellation. Auto service outfits put up signs saying they would be happy to sell and install chains! I figured this had to be some sort of joke, though more than a few such signs were evident.

The next day I was in Georgetown. Weather was sunny and beautiful - temperature well above freezing. Only traces of snow were still visible, in fully shaded areas. Roads were dry and in perfect condition. I heard a strange metallic noise and looked up to see a Georgetown police car rolling along with chains on a perfectly clear road.


I do my level best to stay at home at all times when there’s snow on the ground, not because I’m a-skeered of a few inches of powder, but because I don’t want to turn into one of those transplanted northerners who goes around bitching to all and sundry that “nobody here knows how to handle a real winter”.

That said, this is the internet; y’all don’t count. So: nobody here knows how to handle a real winter. Harden the fuck up, dumbshits.

No pants? :eek: :smiley:

I’ve lived in Maryland all my life, and I’ve found that there are two kinds of drivers around here when it comes to snow:

The idiots who think that no matter what the conditions are, they can drive exactly the way they always do.

And the jerks who think that as soon as they see one flake of snow they have to slow down to five miles an hour, even if it’s so warm that the streets are merely damp.

When these two types get together, it’s not pretty.

Moving back to Massachusetts after living in VA for a few years was bittersweet. Snow and drivers in VA is something I’ll never miss, well other then the laugh factor of it all. In MA its always the first storm of the year that makes people stupid. In VA it was every single storm. Hell in the DC metro area rain is an issue for the drivers.

I’ve lived in the South for years after moving fron Maine winters, and would take the heh heh don’t drive thing lightly, until getting caught up in a 100 car pile up in Knoxville trying to get crosscountry in December. Took eight hours to get out of that, a friggin nightmare, no plows able to get out of it. And, a car totalled sliding under the back end of a truck, because the other driver was rubbernecking to all the other cars sliding around.

I’m in NC, and just stay at home here in snow. Not worth the pride in dealing with the pride of North knowledge, and , balanced out by the hellish temps of summer, when Northern transplants here start to melt.

Last Christmas we got nearly two feet of snow overnight. The next day…I went to work. I did only make it in for half the day because I had to wait for them to come and plow so I could get my car out to the highway, and it took a long time to dig my car out, but still.

Buncha wimps. And this is only my third mountain winter. That being said, were I back East right now, I wouldn’t try driving anywhere. Even with my studded snow tires (which I’m sure are illegal in Maryland where my parents are anyway), if there weren’t a snowplow for a hundred miles, I’d be screwed. Fortunately there’s no shortage of plows around here.

Also we really really really really need some more snow. And it’s wasted falling there. Send it back here, we need it!

Twice in 17 years living at 11,200 feet I’ve decided to call it a ‘snow’ day. And Once it was Columbus day which is a holiday for my work anyway. Work in a ski resort town and call in because there is too much snow. That does not go over very well. :smiley: