Thursday, January 23, 2014

Snow Days

(Reclaimed from Bubblews. Image credit: Dominiks Photos at Morguefile:

The past two days, when I should've been here, were snow days. I didn't see any snow on the ground. Today is not a snow day. I am looking at snow on the ground (less than an inch, only in the shade). In Virginia it is not always possible to tell by looking whether it's a snow day.

This is because snow days are not always declared as such because the snow is actually in the place that is closed for a snow day. Snow may have fallen on the other side of the mountain, or at a higher elevation. Any snow on the ground may be fifty miles away from where you live and seventy-five miles away from where you work, but if some co-worker or customer feels a need to get home before the weather gets worse or might be called upon to help victims of a snow-related disaster, you may still get a snow day. 

This happens to people in Gate City almost every year, sometimes more than once. Big Stone Gap, thirty miles away, is higher up the mountain and gets more snow than we do. Sometimes the community college and/or the paratransit bus service in Big Stone Gap close due to snow there. Other times even Big Stone Gap doesn't get snow, but some other place even further into the mountains does, so people in Big Stone Gap want to go home from work early, so everything in Big Stone Gap closes. When things in Big Stone Gap are closed, things in Gate City are likely to be closed too. If the weather forecaster makes the storm sound scary enough, things in Kingsport may also close...when the only actual snowfall is in some little place like Clintwood where most people I know have never been.

On Tuesday, when I mentioned coming to Big Stone Gap to work online, someone said, "The weather forecast calls for three inches of snow followed by a big freeze. Nobody with any sense would go out today unless they HAFF to." 

I said, "Well, I posted on the Internet that I'll be back on Tuesday, so I HAFF to." I then started walking, confirmed that this computer center was open on its regular schedule around 12:15 p.m., and sat down at the computer about 12:50 p.m. I later heard that snow started falling in Wise around 12:30 p.m. All I know firsthand is that the computer center closed at 1 p.m. 

I had some extra time. I went into Kingsport, had an interesting adventure, composed a long rant that is stored on a floppy disk that has to be taken to a different computer center before it can be published from this one. I got home around 6 p.m. The ground was dry in Kingsport, it was dry in Gate City, it was dry up at the Cat Sanctuary, and it was dry all day yesterday.

The big freeze did arrive yesterday evening. The afternoon hadn't been terribly cold, so I hadn't lighted a fire in the wood stove. During the night I woke up cold several times. In the morning I went into the kitchen and poured out some bottled water to boil. Luckily the water was stored in a recycled soda bottle instead of those flimsy little things that pass as water jugs and bottles these days, so it hadn't frozen...but when I measured the water, not as much water seemed to come out of the measure as I'd poured in. I looked. Looked again. Within one minute water had frozen to the sides of the measure in my hand. I've read about this kind of thing happening in colder parts of the world, but this is the first time I've ever seen it happen...

Anyway, since bill-reading season in Virginia coincides with snow season, I think, as I've often thought before, that there ought to be a law about these things. People should have the right to take snow days when there is snow where they live or work, or carry on with their business when there is no snow where they live or work, depending on where they live and work. Nobody should have to drive in and out of Clintwood through ice and snow. Nobody in Gate City should lose two days' work because Clintwood gets more ice and snow than the rest of Virginia does, either.

I would like to share a picture of what my snow days looked like...but I'm low on phone minutes, and in any case there's no need. My snow day looked a lot like what you might see in Florida!