So, the NWS has issued another winter storm watch for tomorrow evening through Thursday morning. More cold temps plus another storm front. Welcome to freezing rain, most likely. Yuck. I'm going to try to drive up to B'ham tomorrow before the next wave hits. Classes may not be in session again, but I still need to be there to help work on the Friday issue, among other duties.
Those who are from higher elevations or generally colder regions may think we're being wimps about this here. Speaking as someone who was born and raised at 4500 feet, let me tell you: this is not standard mountain snow.
What sucks about this climate is that it rarely gets and stays cold for any length of time. What happens is that we get a dump of snow over a day or so, then temps warm up enough to either melt the top of the snow layer and/or add rain to it. Then it freezes over again overnight. So what we have isn't layers of powder--or even packed powder--but layers of solid ice, most of which has melted/refrozen in very uneven surface patterns.
When you're driving on snow, assuming you have snow tires and a fairly heavy vehicle, you can cut a path through the stuff. The act of compacting the snow will give you traction. Yes, it's still slippery, but it's something for the tires to grab onto. The stuff we get here isn't like that. It's more like trying to drive over a rock-solid Chihuly sculpture dipped in Astroglide. The only way you get traction on that is if you have chains, studs or they've been kind enough to dump a load of fresh sand on the street. Note, too, that this must be fresh. Older layers of sand only get sunk down into the permafrost layer during the melting/refreezing cycle.
So if you're tempted to point and laugh--don't. We generally get mild winters with maybe one or two light snowstorms (at least in the lowlands.) But when we get a big one, it's nasty, nasty, nasty. This is definitely the worst storm cycle since the horror of December 96.
Wish us luck and warmth. We're going to need it.