Snow in the South

To most people there is nothing novel about snow. For many, it is nothing but an inconvenience. Growing up in Florida, however, snow was up there with unicorns and pixie dust for me. It seemed like such a mystical phenomenon that could bring only happiness. As I got older I soon realized that a snow day or white Christmas would never happen in my current state. Now at 23, I can still count on two hands the number of times I have seen snow. I believe North Carolina is a happy medium where we receive a decent number of sunny days but also just enough snow to really make it feel like winter.

Duke Chapel in the snow

On a cloudy day in early December, just in time for finals week, we saw the first snow of the school year. In a similar response to Hurricane Florence, the grocery stores had been raided and gas stations emptied as everyone prepared to hunker down. A snowstorm this early in the season was rare and 8 inches to a foot of snow was predicted in Durham. The governor of North Carolina, Roy Cooper, gave the warning “this is going to be a snowstorm, not a snowfall.” More than 100,000 people lost power, 150 National Guard members were deployed and 25 counties declared states of emergencies. The Triangle area received 7 inches of snow in one day, the entire seasonal snow average. A typical year averages about 5.9 inches.

Now, those from the Northeast may snort at this, but to me it seemed Durham did well to be as proactive as possible. The roads were preemptively salted and stayed plowed through the following days. Duke supplied excellent communication with weather alerts and the new limited bus and dining hours. Most facilities closed like the Duke Chapel and the Nasher Museum of Art.

Additionally, most if not all the businesses in the city closed as well. The severe weather policy remained in effect from  7 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9 to 10 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 10

We can blame it on finals and end of the year projects, but my fellow MEM roommates and I were not quite as prepared. The three of us ventured out Monday and purchased two snow shovels. Our rental house in the Trinity Heights area has a decently long driveway. After this chore was over, my fascination with the snow was dwindling. Though, I did encourage the two of them (native Bostonians) to humor me with a snowball fight and snowman building contest. A few other students who do not normally see snow, like fellow CEM Tamera Husseini, who grew up in Bahrain, had a blast. Covered in snow, the gothic architecture that characterizes Duke was truly a sight. The undisturbed blanketed fields in the Duke Gardens made an excellent location for snow angels as well.

From right to left EEP Alicia Zhao, EEP Rachel Gonsenhauser, and I enjoying the snow at home
He’s got character

This was not something I had even considered when coming to Duke University. We are lucky in that there are continuous months of sunny days, but also the occasional winter wonderland. The snow brought many together who were able to enjoy the weather and offered a chance to decompress from finals fixation. Not all will agree, but I hope it snows again soon!