Saturday, April 5, 2008


With two major snowfalls within the first full week of March, 2008 the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex (DFW) and north Texas looked for a very short time more like the Midwest or the Northeast in deep midwinter.

In that first March snowfall DFW received up to five inches of snow while the following storm dumped up to nine inches of sleet and snow during the afternoon and overnight hours of March 6 & 7, 2008. The upper level storm formed in the Texas Panhandle and roared ferociously into north central Texas two days later. This storm system was typical of late winter and early spring systems that can have dramatic impacts on those communities in its path to include the F-1 tornado that hit Corpus Christi. Though well forecast, the last storm moved much faster than predicted with near horizontal gale winds and snowflakes larger than silver dollars emptying schools and companies with anxious employees bent on the health and welfare of other family members. Got to get milk and bread!

Though the roads in Collin and Dallas Counties from Plano south never really got that bad except for some elevated roadways, Texans could apparently move no faster than five miles per hour (or less) on roads that could have easily accommodated the speed limit. Caution is good, but an overbearing overreaction to the weather caused a gridlock throughout the metro area. Admittedly, the folks in Denton, Flower Mound and over in Cooke County and points north and east were not so lucky.

The frustration with the storms was felt early in the week where drivers who could or would not garage their vehicles were seen in great numbers on the expressways of north Texas apparently on their way to work their cars still shrouded in several inches of snow. Many drivers didn’t even bother to clear the snow from their side or rear view windows even failing to clear all the snow from their front windshields? It was either an attempt to cling to the last remaining vestige and memory of the big event, something they can tell their grandkids or just plain stupidity.

While the snow remained on their cars the roadways were all generally clear. Once they achieved velocities near the speed limit, chunks of snow and ice were hurled into the air causing other vehicles to swerve dangerously to avoid the projectiles or just endure the buffeting of frozen debris. It was a dangerous situation, but these folks didn’t appear to care because they were just plain stupid or intent to perpetuate their memories one minute longer. Of course, until all the snow came off their windows, they probably didn’t even see what was happening. Gees…

My personal experiences reminded me of the 2005 Pennsylvania Bill (now law) that cites the driver of any moving vehicle that has not been cleared of snow. The penalty for drivers who fail to clear snow or ice from their vehicles is a whopping $75-1500 per infraction. It appears that many folks have been injured and even killed not to mention the extensive property damage caused by flying snow or ice caused by ignorant or lazy drivers. Now hear this – If the vehicle is commercial, say an eighteen wheeler, the fine jumps to $1,000.00 to $1,500.00 per offense! Now we’re talking!

The heretofore referenced Texas March snow and ice storm was bad enough for Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport to cancel almost 600 departing flights — about half of its scheduled departures on Thursday night and Friday morning. American Airlines as the anal retentive local carrier eager to emulate Jet Blue’s 2007 strategic scheduling blunders and flight delays and their own previous foul-ups last December 30, did it again at DFW. Some flights of both American and American Eagle spent as much as six hours on the tarmac, not quite as bad as their previous eight hour faux pas. The news in DFW that week was fraught with passengers swearing never to fly American Airlines, ever again. Again another raison d’etre for the pending Airline Passenger Bill of Rights to be reinforced though with the Democrats less than stellar legislative record, passage isn’t likely.

While we can attribute American Airlines repeated failure to watch out for the comfort and best interests of their passengers as an incredibly pathetic business breakdown, how do we explain the behaviors of those aforementioned drivers?

The failure to follow even basic common sense rules when preparing cars for travel or driving in inclement weather conditions is part of a Southern phenomenon called Snow in Texas Equals Stupid.

Millions of folks have immigrated to Texas in the last thirty years. That includes the transfer of hundreds of thousands of workers as corporate America finds comfort and solace in the friendly, warm sunny climes of the former Republic. Many more have immigrated emovere getting to Texas, “as quick as they could.” Then we have the millions of (let’s be PC here) undocumented aliens that live in The Metroplex. We might mention that we have many, many documented aliens and US Citizens here in DFW representing cultures from around the world, many of whom have never seen snow before. The stage is always set.

Many see snow as the blanket which covers up the dirt and grime of our society insulating the weary earthbound traveler from reality. The world takes on a transient beauty becoming a comforter that gives them a quiet peace and brief respite. To some snow becomes a metaphor for holiday and good times. Others see it as the welcome break from a recent two and one half year Texas drought not yet forgotten. Expatriate Michiganders, Ohioans, Nebraskans and others of that snow-belt ilk are not so pleasantly reminded of at least one reason why they moved South. To many Christians the “whiteness of snowflakes is the metaphor for God’s cleansing of our sin.” God knows we have a lot of sinners in The Metroplex.

For all these reasons (and many more) some want to hold onto that experience as long as they can knowing full well that the phenomenon will soon be gone.

So when all those sheaths, bullets, cups, columns, pyramids, hexagonal prisms, six-pointed stars, dendrites, et al start to fall in the Lone Star State, watch out for those winter Texas rednecks and anticipate a less than congenial reception and behaviors from these poor stupid souls. There oughta be a law…


Ned Buxton

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