An Observation: Levels of Southern Winter Precipitation

Please take a moment to review these standard units of measurement for winter precipitation in the South with your family before submitting reports to neighbors, relatives, and friends. Expert advice for each situation is listed.

Snowing:

  • 1 to 15 snow flurries per hour
  • Temperatures hovering around 32-33 degrees
  • Call your local television station. Things just got serious.

Snowing Hard:

  • 50-100 snowflakes per hour
  • Sticks to grass for a maximum duration of thirty seconds
  • Take no less than twenty photos and one video for Instagram. Demand that local schools close early.

Blizzard:

  • A dusting/up to one inch of accumulation
  • Bigger snowflakes, but still able to be individually counted with reasonable ease
  • Stay home. Your off-road, heavy-duty, four-wheel-drive pickup truck is useless.

Whiteout/Apocalypse:

  • Accumulation in excess of one inch
  • Snowflakes too numerous to count
  • Call Northern relatives for survival advice, if your phone still works.

Sleeting:

  • 1 to 15 ice pellets per hour
  • Sound against windows resembles bacon frying in small skillet
  • Put glass outside to collect ice. Sonic will be closed soon.

Heavy Sleet:

  • Melted residue on car windshield (see also: cold water)
  • Sound against windows interferes with normal conversation
  • Advise your family that it could be worse. It could be freezing rain.

Freezing Rain:

  • Shiny glaze on all elevated objects
  • Power outages, broken tree limbs, all brick-and-mortar establishments closed
  • Give up and set yourself on fire for warmth—you’re in this one for the long haul.

An Observation: Winter Isn’t My Favorite

I’ve tried. I’ve given this winter thing a few decades to show me its redeeming qualities, and I just don’t like it.

Maybe some of it has to do with where I live. In Arkansas, “hot” and “humid” go together like peanut butter and jelly. “Cold” and “icy” aren’t typical words in the local vernacular. However, I live in the northeastern part of the state, where we can generally expect a little more winter than our friends in L.A. (That’s “Lower Arkansas,” for the uninitiated.)

“Oh, but I’d rather be cold than hot. You can always put on more layers.”

Every time I hear that argument, I want to scream.

A Christmas Story GIF
More layers. Right. Good idea.

Most of the time, when I add layers, I end up sweating while at least one of my extremities is still numb.

I will admit that the first day the weatherman mentions the word “snow,” I get a little bit excited. (That’s “SNOW.” NOT “flurries.” When I hear the word “flurries,” I get about as excited as I do when he says the word “sprinkles.” You only need to mention “sprinkles” if you’re bringing me a cake. Otherwise, it’s insignificant to my outdoor plans.)

In Arkansas, though, it’s the reaction of the masses that gets amusing. See, I was always taught that you’d want non-perishable items around the kitchen if you were facing a disaster of epic proportions (see also: 12 whole hours of being snowed in…with “snowed in” defined as .025 inches of slush). When the disaster is looming, though, it’s the bread and milk aisles that are wiped clean before everyone settles in to hold down the fort. Because you know you’re not going anywhere for at least three or four days. Because snow is slick.

“Y’all just don’t know how to drive on that stuff.”

Image result for driving on snot and ice
Uhh…yeah, well, I guess that’s a valuable lesson, too.

True. But…most of the time we don’t get actual “snow.” We almost always get some kind of mix, usually starting out with a glaze of freezing rain. Sometimes, it’s exclusively freezing rain, which is a total mess. If we get a layer of snow on top, at least it’s prettier to look at while we’re sitting inside waiting for the power to come back on.

(I’ll admit…it’s good for a laugh sometimes. Our friends to the north definitely have a sense of humor about it.)

And, on occasion, when we’re not iced or snowed in, you can find a few little gems here and there.

I wasn’t going to go through an entire post about winter without at least one original photograph. A little bluebird. (Awwwwwww.)

Most of the time, though, we look at bare branches and gray skies for a couple of months.

Typical winter view. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, if I had to rank my favorite seasons in order, it would probably look like this:

1. Spring, Summer, Fall

 

 

4. Winter.

Sorry, winter. You had your chance. Be sure to pick up all of your icicles when you leave.

An Observation: As I Was Saying…

In February, I said that Arkansas was in the middle of an alternative winter.

In March, Arkansas finally experienced winter-winter.

It’s a similar pattern that we’ve been following for a few years now. Last year was the exception; however, in general, we have begun to expect winter to give us one final show just as the trees really start to bloom.

When I saw the forecast, I knew it would be an interesting time for photography.

After all, I’d been walking around in mid-February carrying my jacket over one arm. The daffodils have come and gone in some places over the past two weeks or so. (I suppose you could say they are already pushing up daisies. Okay, I know…that little joke was bad. I can do better than that. I promise I’ll try harder next time.)

So, naturally, the tornado warnings earlier in the week and the impending Daylight Savings Time switch had to be surefire signs that a couple of inches of snow would be on the ground by Saturday night.

It’s Arkansas physics.

Having lost an hour already on Sunday morning, I still decided it was in my best interest to wake up a little earlier than normal to take photographs of the snowfall before it melted.

It turned out to be a very good decision. By mid-afternoon, most of the snow was gone, but I had a successful morning of photography…numb fingers and all.

The fog that had settled over the water combined with the snow falling from the trees created some outstanding photo opportunities.
The fog that settled over the water in combination with the snow falling from the trees created some outstanding photo opportunities.
I made a new friend, too.
I don’t typically shoot in black and white during March, but the snowy landscape was all dressed up for the occasion. (Friendly reminder…all original photographs are the property of Sara Garland. Please do not reprint or distribute without permission.)

I hope this was winter’s last big show for the year, because it’ll be hard to top that.