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Advice from a Reverse Snow Bird

We’re having a snow day here in the Seattle area—the first significant snowfall in several years. In my neighborhood it seems as though 2–3 inches of light, fluffy powder has fallen, but there are so many micro-climates here in the Puget Sound region that I know others nearby got at least half-a-foot. As someone who grew up in the northeast and spent many years in heavy snow locales, I am confident in my ability to cope with this level of winter weather. However, having lived here long enough, I also am completely terrified by my neighbors’ inability to cope with even a light dusting, so my plan is to stay hunkered down in my apartment unless I absolutely NEED to be elsewhere.

Since the snowfall seemed to be letting up, I went out to dust off and de-ice my car in case I did need to use it. While I was in the process, one of my neighbors walked by and stopped to give me some advice. She was a tiny little woman in an arctic parka, speaking with an accent that hinted strongly at coming from a part of the Americas that never sees any snow other than in the mountains.

“Don’t take the snow off the top of your car,” she said, seeing that I was most of the way through doing just that.

“Why” I asked, pausing just in case she had some reasonable piece of advice.

“Because you have a small car,” she said. “The roads are slippery and the snow is heavy, so it will weigh you down and help you keep from sliding.”

This, of course, was completely bogus. To begin with, snow in any form isn’t heavy enough to have that effect. Secondly, the minute you get above 15 MPH the wind will begin to blow the snow off your car and create a visual distraction for the cars behind you.

I explained this to the well-meaning woman, hoping to keep her from passing that piece of advice along to more inexperienced drivers who might believe her (and then might end up in front of me on the road).

“Really?” she said, giving me a look of uncertainty. “I thought the snow was heavy.”

“Not nearly heavy enough, especially once you’re driving,” I said, continuing to clear the powder off my car.

“Oh,” she said. “Well, I don’t drive.” Then she walked off toward the bus stop just outside our apartment complex.

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