I grew up outside of Chicago, where a “bad winter storm” typically meant at least a foot of snow followed by temperatures in the teens. Unless some heavy stuff is expected, in other words, nothing shuts down. In much of the South, even a forecast of 1/4″ of ice or 1″ of snow prompts school and business shutdowns. I scoffed at this initially, until I realized what it meant after the precipitation had finished.
The frozen rain started to fall around 7 PM Tuesday, and by 9 PM the main bridges around the Lowcountry had all closed. Most schools finished early on Monday and were closed Tuesday, so by the time water turned to ice the roads were practically empty. In Atlanta, it seems the order to close schools and offices early somehow didn’t get communicated effectively, so where Charleston was eerily quiet with empty, closed roads at 9 PM, Atlantonians were still stuck in traffic from their 1 PM commute home. With everyone off the roads and the maintenance crews able to do their jobs overnight, I got out to see the aftermath.
I awoke Wednesday to a disappointing lack of snow. Not a single inch stuck where I live, but at every level the presence of the ice was visible. The grass and pine needles showed it,
as did the reeds.
Sometimes the cold ice even resembled cold steel. Or cold mercury. Something metallic, anyhow.
Fishing docks were left waiting for attention,
and the mighty Ravenel was devoid of traffic for 24 hours (and counting). The stoicism of the bridge amidst all the weather changes is impressive; I’d love to do a daily sunset shoot for a year and see how differently it looks in each day’s light. For today’s session, I bid my fingers and toes not to freeze too quickly as I waited to see the bridge just before and a little after dark.
I went out for photographs three times today and got a little glimpse of my childhood winters each time, even if the accumulation itself couldn’t compare. As I thought back to my initial bewilderment of all the early closures and seeming overreaction, it dawned on me that sometimes admitting a lack of preparation for inclement weather and deciding to shut everything down actually lessens the headaches. If everyone had been as bull-headed as I was (“It’s only 2″ of snow forecast! How bad could it be?”), you’d be reading about two cities whose motorists were ensnared in traffic james with nowhere to go. Well done, Charleston.