This morning I was out of the house quite a bit earlier than normal. It wasn't a rush to get to work, but a rush to avoid the dreaded "s" word:
Yes, we are getting our first real, measurable snowfall of the season this morning, right through the morning rush hour. It is true that Wisconsinites drive four to five months of the year in conditions often worse than today's, however, the first snow of the season is special.
You see, we northerners forget about winter once it is done, the better to enjoy the halcyon days of summer. In conjunction with forgetting the snow and cold, we also forget our winter driving skills.
Traffic during the first snow of the season resembles a round of bumper cars at the annual convention for the blind, except the convention's drivers are actually better behind the wheel than the people driving to work this morning.
Not that many people will listen, but it bears repeating:
1. Be careful. Slow down. Drive for the conditions.
2. Be seen. Turn those lights on any time it is snowing, not just after dark.
3. Be prepared. Even if you aren't wearing them, take along a hat and gloves. Keep the ice scraper and snow brush in the back seat. Keep a bag of kitty litter in the trunk. A working flashlight, several granola bars or a bag of nuts and a couple space blankets take up little room in the glove compartment. Make sure your cell phone is charged before you leave the house.
4. Be aware. Your own winter driving skills may be exemplary, but you need to drive for the morons out there with no clue what they are doing. Keep track of the cars around you, look as far ahead as you can, keep tabs on what is happening behind you.
The inch and a half we are getting will not last long with temperatures in the low forties, but many of its flaky friends will come to visit - and stay - in the near future. Establish good habits now, before you find yourself in a ditch during a real storm.