Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go to California, Or Two Posts in One

It's been raining a lot in Salt Lake City. Here are the two thoughts that keep running through my mind:
  1. I wish I could send all this rain to California!
  2. Wow, Utahns stink at driving in the rain!
Let's explore these points in finer detail:
  1. I've experienced droughts in multiple states, but living with drought in California was a whole new ballgame. Driving north through the Central Valley on my way to the South Bay and then driving to Sacramento a few times while I lived in California was so eye-opening. For miles and miles, all you can see are fields of leafy greens and strawberries or almond orchards and peach trees forever and ever. There's even more than that, of course. There are avocados and apples and grapes and oranges and cherries and broccoli and artichokes and on and on and on. California, I learned, grows most of the produce in the United States.* It's incredible! (Seriously, it's absolutely incredible and astonishing. Read that link now. Do it now. You'll never think of California the same again.)

    So a drought in California is a drought that Americans everywhere should be concerned about. It's something I'm concerned about. I was grateful for rain before and loved how beautiful it made Georgia trees and kudzu look, but I'm grateful for it in a different way now, after having lived in California. And if that's the only thing I learned while I lived there (it's not), then going was well worth it.

  2. Utahns, other Westerners, and Midwesterners constantly laugh at the Southern states for shutting down when it snows or when there is a threat of snow. And it's true; they do. Schools close, grocery stores get cleaned out of bread and milk, and companies allow their employees to work from home. Why? The simple answer is that Southerners don't know how to drive in snow. That's not the whole truth, though. The whole truth is that Southern roads aren't built for snow. And why should they be? It rarely snows in the South!

    You know what the weather does do in the South, though? It rains! It rains and rains and rains. In fact, the South gets more rainfall than any other region of the country. Utah, on the other hand is typically as dry as a bone. When it rains, drivers move at a snail's pace. In other words, Westerners (well, Utahns, in my experience) don't know how to drive in rain. And yet, that's also not the whole truth. The whole truth is that Utah roads don't get the help they need from regular soaking rains. Huge puddles of water accumulate on the uneven surfaces of the Interstate and other roads; that's a rare occurrence in the South.

    So Utahns, do me a favor and quit making fun of your Southern countrymen; remember, you have a driving weak spot, too.

*In the 90s, there was some nonsense about California eventually "falling" into the ocean. Let's all hope and pray that that idea is as absurd as it sounds because I want my fruits and vegetables and almonds, dangit!

Thing I'm thankful for: the rabbit hole that is this blog post. I love hyperlinks. :)


Anonymous Melissa said...

You give Southern's a pass when it comes to their absolute, crazy over reaction to snow but not to the West for driving in the rain? Hmmm...You are right about the South. The South should shut down roads when it snows. The cities can't handle it and aren't designed to do so. This is totally acceptable...but they don't just shut down roads and schools, they go hog wild crazy...especially when you consider that it almost never stays below freezing for more than 10-20 hours. They act like it is an apocalypse.

On the other hand, we do drive slow when it rains. Although this behavior is not always justified, there are some reasons. Most Utahans/Westerners don't even understand it but they just know instinctively. Roads in the West become extremely slick when it rains. The roads are used to very dry conditions. It rarely rains and there is no humidity. This causes our roads to be much more dangerous and slick when it finally does rain. The oil, transmission fluid and other car fluids build up on our roads a lot more. When it rains, they loosen up and cause the roads to become much more slick than a road that sees a lot of rain. Those first few hours of rain cause different conditions up here. Also, most of our rain comes in early spring. The snow has just melted and the roads are a disaster. There is leftover sand and salt and all the crap from cars in still on the road. Snow melting doesn't remove this in the same way rain would. The freeze thaw cycle of winter it real and destroys the road (just look at what in created in Southern Utah :). It is impossible for crews to get around and fix all the holes before the end of spring. When it rains and you see a small puddle in could be a 1/2 inch deep pothole but it could also be a 6 inch deep pothole. If you care about your car you have to be a little more careful in the rain because you can't tell what in under that layer of water. These are reasons we go slower...

So...I still think that driving slower in rain is not comparable in any way to what the South does. Really, it is a little out of control. People have panic attacks if someone wears sandals in 40 degree weather.

However, if you'd like to argue that Utahans are the worst drivers you will get no disagreement from me. I don't know how they compare to CA but I would take TX and CO drivers any day....


7:05 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

Melissa! I specifically gave Utahns a pass, see? "In other words, Westerners (well, Utahns, in my experience) don't know how to drive in rain. And yet, that's also not the whole truth. The whole truth is that Utah roads don't get the help they need from regular soaking rains."

I pointed out that Utahns don't know how to drive in the rain because it doesn't rain enough!

1:18 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Lol...well as common with internet exchanges I think I read your thoughts in a different way and perhaps you true meaning was in a different context :)

On a side note...you should have lived here. I read two articles today that needed thoughtful discussions :)

10:38 PM  

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