I swear it used to snow around here. At least every once in a while.
The thought crossed my mind last week when a good friend of mine, Brant Anderson over in Abbeville, shared a photo on social media from seven years ago.
“The obligatory ‘Here’s Highway 28’ photo,” the caption read on the picture from February 2014. It was a picturesque shot of SC-28 near his home. The lens is pointed straight down the highway, in the direction of McCormick, and there wasn’t a soul on the road. The highway itself was completely whited out, as was the field to the right of the frame, the snowy white canvass broken only by a barbed-wire fence dotting the length of the pasture. The snow was still falling in the photo, the big, fluffy flakes, slightly blurry as they descended, adding to the wintry quilt covering the countryside.
I remember when it used to snow like that in South Carolina. It just doesn’t seem like it does as much anymore. As I type this, weatherman Al Roker is on my TV, excitedly gushing about winter weather that is socking large swaths of the country this weekend. He’s practically giddy — as all TV weather folks seem to be when weather events happen — as he calls out cities in the central part of the country, describing the cold temperatures and snow expected there.
And then I turned my eyes from his report on the TV and looked out my window. Rain. Then I googled “Lexington, SC weather” and “Greenwood, SC weather.” In both searches, I was greeted with seven consecutive days across the top of my screen with the telltale “rain” icon. Not one cartoon snowflake in sight.
Don’t get me wrong. Like many of you, I mostly enjoy the South Carolina climate and have no desire to suffer through the long-term, gray, icy winters of the Northeast and upper Midwest. There are benefits to living down here. “You don’t have to shovel sunshine,” as my Dad likes to say.
But it would be OK with me if it snowed every once in a while. While I admit I don’t have any scientific data to back it up, and I’m sure a weather hound out there will correct me, it certainly doesn’t feel like there are as many snow days in the Lakelands as there used to be.
When I was growing up, you could count on there being at least one fairly significant snow in the winter. Enough snow to call off school for the day, or even several days. My parents were both public school teachers, and it was always an exciting time, at least for my brother and I, when they would get those super early phone calls letting them know school was out for the day. Not long later, the school bulletins would start rolling across the bottom of the TV on WYFF or WSPA. Remember when those TV bulletins were, essentially, the only way most people could find out school was closed? Seeing your school district roll across the bottom was a shot of pure adrenaline.
And, of course, we’d spend the day outside playing in it, on one of the few days in a year where we’d wear gloves and stocking hats and boots. Snowball fights were crucial, at least until someone took a shot to the eye. And we’d break out the plastic sleds from up in the garage and head for Sunset Drive. Folks from Abbeville undoubtedly know how steep the western end of Sunset Drive is. Let me promise you: When you get snow of any consequence, it’s perfect for sledding.
Years later, there were times when I walked through the snow to work at the Index-Journal. I’d come out my front door on Blyth Avenue in Greenwood headed for my car, take one look at the snowy streets and think, “Nope.” Then I’d set out on foot up Blyth, across East Cambridge, down the hill on Pressley, across the train tracks on Seaboard Avenue, and then up Phoenix to the newspaper. It was the only time I walked right down the middle of the road on Phoenix. On a normal day, that would get you killed by a speeding car — we always called it the “Phoenix Expressway.” But on a true snow day? There wasn’t a car on the street.
But I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve had one like that. But, you never know. Maybe we’ll have enough snow again one day to get Al Roker excited. Maybe.