I got yer infrastructure right here

Our flashlights have batteries. Our lantern has propane. My wife is presently picking up a few more essential items: nonperishables, water, and firewood. Somehow I forgot to put Maker’s on the list. This is something I will regret in about 48 hours.

Why? Well, this, of course.

That is the next great weather system to head toward our region. If you look closely and under the words Piedmont Plateau, you’ll see a graying, grizzled blogger typing away and looking out his window at sunny skies. It is, in point of fact, a very nice day.

And yet, every news station is currently pulling the all-hands-on-deck maneuver for what will be breathless coverage over the next couple of days. It’s laughable, and yet, completely justified.

I grew up in southwest Missouri. To this day, I consider it to be one of the most interesting regions in America when it comes to weather. It was a place that simply had to be prepared for anything–blizzards, ice storms, tornadoes, floods, you name it (minus the hurricanes, which never seemed to form over Table Rock lake). Because the cities and counties there are prepared, a weather event like the one you see above is usually an inconvenience, but not a major disaster. Hell, it took two feet of snow in 24 hours to shut down the University of Missouri in the mid-90s, and even then it was only closed for one day. This is to say nothing of my friends who live in Minnesota and Wisconsin and can justifiably laugh at the radar image above. Temperatures in the 20s with a quarter-inch of ice is the time the folks in Green Bay start thinking about making tee-times.

Here, however, the weather that may be in the offing could shut us down for days. Four or five years ago, a similar system knocked out my power for three days. I got the last available hotel room in Greenville and stayed there for one night. The next night our friends put us up. My internet was down for more than a week (and let me tell you, if I didn’t hate Starbucks before that, I certainly hate even walking in the place now).

To put it in the plainest possible terms, this area of the country is ill-equipped to handle winter storms. The infrastructure is not set up to handle ice and snow. The road crews have enough salt for a medium-sized baked potato and the power lines couldn’t pull a good-sized catfish out of the river. Some states are very prepared for extreme weather and have plans in place to help businesses and homes out when it hits, for example, commercial buildings and homes can get hit pretty hard and will need reconstruction outside and inside depending on the damage, that is why there are commercial roofing contractors in Denver, Texas, Florida, etc. that will come and fix this when needed, however, where I am… they need to be a bit more prepared.

If you can’t quite grasp it, think of it this way. The southeastern United States is a lot like a college kid who hasn’t had a girlfriend since he got to school. He says, “Why buy condoms?” And then the one time he runs into a girl from Delta Delta Delta who thinks he’s cute…disaster.

Here’s a live-blog, in-game report from my wife who just called on her way home from the store. This is verbatim:

“People think the $^&$@$ world is ending,” my wife said. “Everybody is there, carts overflowing. It’s hilarious. People are truly panicking. People in the grocery store are like holy $%&#.”

It’s easy to blame the regular folks when they freak out over weather here. It really does look ridiculous and if my spidey sense is working, probably going to be unnecessary. My blogging friend Tom believes as I do that we’re looking to be on the southern edge of the storm and won’t get hit too badly.

“In your expert weather opinion…” my wife said.

That’s really the point. I, like the forecasters, have no idea what is going to happen. I’d actually bet against disaster. But, if I did, I’d probably lay off some of my action, because I’m pretty sure a 32oz. Jamba Juice spill on I-85 would put us out of commission until Monday.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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4 Responses

  1. Bam-Bam says:

    Acceptance of ‘the norm’ is one of the most fascinating points in human nature to me. I personally love the swings that weather can bring into the equation as well.

    Two true stories.

    1) While driving through Kentucky one afternoon I was pulled over by a State Trooper. “What the hell are you doing out here in this? Let me see your license Sir.” After passing over my D/L the response was hilarious. “Oh You’re Canadian. Sorry Mr. Bam.”
    All for three inches of fresh snow.

    2) While in Corpus Christi back in 19… 99? for business, a Hurricane named Bret was headed straight for town. As I panicked and called all of my family to say goodbye, three locals wanted to know if I was going to join them in some pool and beer at the pub.
    To them, Bret was just a baby.

    We are a funny bunch.

  2. betty says:

    This is full of nuggets that made me proud to call you “friend”. Ya know, those genius nuggets wedged into what could be a boring blog post about weather. Like when they put peanut butter in pretzels… nuggets THAT GOOD.

    “The road crews have enough salt for a medium-sized baked potato and the power lines couldn’t pull a good sized catfish out of the river.”

    “I’m pretty sure a 32oz. Jamba Juice spill on I-85 would put us out of commission until Monday.”

  3. KenP says:

    I love those tri-delts.
    I always will.
    Because a tri-delt always will.

    Damn, that takes me back…way back!!

  4. MGM says:

    And I always found winter weather responses in Southwest Missouri to be terribly laughable after growing up in Northern Iowa and then living in Northern Idaho a few years. As far as I see it, the “infastructure” is absolutely NOT prepared here in Southwest Missouri. In fact, it’s downright ridiculous the way everyone boards up their windows and stays indoors when a few flakes fall…and panic sets in. Not enough snowplows and no one here knows how to drive in a few flakes. I fear for my life when I get out in a few flakes around here, not because I’m afraid of the snow flakes, but because I’m afraid of the people flakes who don’t know how to drive in an inch of snow. Things didn’t shut down in Northern Iowa unless you couldn’t see your own hand in front of your face, and you didn’t think of holing up in your house …even if two feet of snow fell in 24 hours. Heck, that wasn’t even unusual. My family always found it completely inane at people’s response to winter weather here and how unprepared they are to manage a little snow. I respond like your wife if I happen to need a gallon of milk when a few flakes are falling. People rush to the stores and act as if the end of the world is nigh…everyone wants to be prepared for Armageddon with an extra gallon of milk and a loaf of bread and enough food to feed their family for the next month–despite the fact that even if (on the very off chance) we do get a decent snow fall, it nearly always melts within 24-72 hours when it hits 60 degrees again. And then, having survived a major winter “crisis,” everyone completely forgets that the world was going to end just two days earlier when a few flakes fell, and they break out the shorts and act like Spring has sprung. It’s just plain weird.