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The white stuff cometh. Can we handle it?

Friday morning, my wife and I strung power cords down to our well house. The winter’s first snow was on its way, but of more concern for us were the cold temperatures forecast for Saturday and Sunday nights.

So we wanted to make sure a light bulb was throwing off its 100-watt warmth in the confined space of the well house, hoping it would help keep the water flowing to our home.

I know how feeble this sounds, but, hey, it makes us feel as though we’re making a real pioneer effort.

My wife also keeps a lot of water in the bathtub, which is our backup plan for when the pipes freeze.

What is it about snow, especially the year’s first forecast of snow, that makes us go crazy? Not one snowflake had fallen in North Carolina on Friday before Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency.

It’s snow, people. It comes pretty much every winter, and thanks to living in the South, it doesn’t hang around long.

We should be able to handle snow as we would a visit from an old friend. When he first arrives, there are lots of hugs and back-slapping. Gosh, it’s good to see him again. His appearance prompts wistful reminiscing about the good old days, when you all were much younger.

And how nice it is to sit around the table with your friend, a warm meal and the rest of the family. Maybe you even bring out a jigsaw puzzle.

But after a few days, the friend knows it’s time to leave. Things have to get back to normal, kids must return to school, and you have a lot of things to address at work. The dogs just aren’t as happy to see the friend as they were the day he arrived.

Things start turning yellow.

We folks in the media live for snow “events,” and we always round up the usual suspects. We check in immediately with the National Weather Service and local weather watchers.

Thanks to us, and I include local television meteorologists and reporters who are all-stars when it comes to snow, people can recite the difference between a winter storm watch and a winter storm warning before they can tell you who their congressman is.

We contact the supervisors for N.C. Department of Transportation and city of Salisbury road crews. And their feedback is, of course, always the same.

They are putting brine on the primary roads. The trucks have been fitted with snowplows and are loaded and ready with salt and sand for bridges and major arteries. They are ready to be working around the clock.

We check in with hardware stores to see how many sleds and shovels are going out their doors. Many, by the way. We act surprised that grocery stores are running out of milk, bread and toilet paper.

In recent years, local emergency management folks have been setting up places called “warming stations,” so we find out where they will be located.

Again, before the first flake has been seen and shouted out on Facebook, the delays, postponements and cancellations come flooding in.

In writing our stories, when the snow finally makes an appearance, we reporters brush off our favorite weather verbs: “hits,” “socks,” “blankets,” “stymies,” “mars” and “wreaks” (as in havoc). And somehow, we manage to make at least one reference to “the white stuff.”

In the newsroom, we like to run a betting pool. The winner is who can come closest to predicting the date and time a television anchor or reporter will first mention the most famous phrase in the winter storm vernacular: “black ice.”

We tell people to bring in their dogs from the outside, and we review all the tips for keeping warm and safe during power outages or guarding against carbon monoxide poisoning.

The pictures of people shoveling, making snowmen and sledding will come fast and furious once the snow sets in. You can count on this — it’s in our playbook.

Depending on when you read this, it might be snowing. Please tune out this barrage of information we send your way — you can pretty much predict what we’re saying — and go outside.

The winter’s first snow is a glorious thing. It’s clean. It’s quiet. It’s joyous. It’s new.

Appreciate this old friend before all the shoveling, spinning of tires, salting of sidewalks and marathon television-watching begins.

Oh, and check the light in your well house.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mark.wineka@salisburypost.com.




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