Last night the rumors were already flying that we might see our first snowfall in Virginia today. Kids were running through all of their crazy superstitions (like wearing their pajamas inside out and flushing ice cubes down the toilet) to encourage the winter weather. As always happens when snow is in the forecast, the grocery stores were packed. Heaven forbid someone run out of milk or toilet paper during the day that the snow might last!
My friends who live in areas in the country that get a lot of snow don't understand what an impact a few flakes can have here. Schools go in late or release early. If there is enough snow in the forecast, they cancel altogether. The snow had barely started accumulating on the sidewalks today when the decision was made to release school an hour early. Why does this happen in suburban Virginia when six inches of snow doesn't slow down the school busses in other parts of the country?
One main reason is the heavy volume of vehicles that use the roads here. Not only do we have a lot of cars on the road, many are driven by people who are not accustomed to winter weather. Also, we don't always have the preparation that is common in some northern states. Our school busses aren't equipped with snowtires or chains. Snowplows and other equipment needed to treat the roads is used only on the main thoroughfares because we simply don't get enough winter weather to justify maintaining a whole fleet of such vehicles.
So, while someone in Montana or Idaho or upstate New York may watch the snow fall and simply see wintery weather, here in Virginia it will continue to be a magical day of wintery scenery and time off from school.