freak out it's snowing

5 Reasons Why Our Snow Storm Freak-Out is Totally Justified

The bread and milk has vanished from grocery stores shelves, the Glenwood Avenue car fire picture has made its rounds (again), and everyone’s freaking out about the forecast. If you’re not from around here, you’re probably thinking that we North Carolinians are wimps when it comes to snow. Puh-lease, it snows half an inch and classes are cancelled for a week — what gives?

Yes, Raleigh practically shuts down when it snows. Yes, public schools stay closed even after the snow has melted. And yes, bread and milk fly from store shelves like brand new iPhones. But there’s a perfectly good reason for our freak-out. Five reasons, actually.

view of Raleigh skyline from NCSU library
This is what a typical winter day looks like in Raleigh. Not a flake of snow in sight.

1. We Don’t Get a Lot of Snow

We’re in the South, so snow’s a foreign concept to us. Our average snowfall is 6 inches a year, compared with 124 inches in Syracuse, 57 inches in Denver, and 43 inches in Detroit. Our biggest snowfall ever was 20 inches in the year 2000, although Mount Mitchell claims North Carolina’s biggest snow day at 29 inches in 2001. (That’s small potatoes compared with Colorado’s 63-inch blizzard in 1913.)

2. Our Snow Removal Budget is Teeny Tiny

$70 million (yep, that’s NCDOT’s snow prep budget) sounds like a lot, but that covers the whole state for the year — mountains included. We don’t have the latest fancy snow removal tech, either, like New York’s “tow plows” or Michigan’s snow plow tracking devices. (Or one of those cool snow melters.)

3. NYC Has More Plows Than Our Entire State

North Carolina has 1,900 trucks. New York City (yes, just the city) has more than 2,500. There’s no way our small fleet of snow plows can clear all the roads in a day.

4. Snow Tires are Just Impractical

You’d use them for a few days in January, maybe a day in February. The other 360 days of the year, your snow tires would sit in storage collecting dust. The same goes with studded tires and tire chains. It’s just not worth the time or effort to buy winter tires, change them out with your regular tires, and change them again just a few days later.

snow at nc state university

5. We Get Lots and Lots of Ice

Here’s what usually happens during a Raleigh “snowmageddon”: The snow falls, the weather heats up, the snow melts, and everything freezes again. When the roads freeze over, we kind of panic. We’re actually encouraged to stay home from work and stay off the roads. (Here’s what happened in 2005 when Raleigh was encased in inches of ice.)

Stay Safe Out There, Y’all

Seriously, though, stay safe during the snow storm. Bundle up, stay off the roads, drink plenty of hot chocolate, and don’t feel guilty about binge-watching Netflix all weekend.

What are your favorite snowmageddon memes? Leave ’em below in the comments!


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