Time to prepare for a Southern winter

Published 3:24 pm Friday, November 13, 2015

Within the next few days, I’ll be joining the rest of my family and begin pulling out my cold weather duds.

For some reason, pulling out the plastic storage tubs holding the sweatshirts, sweatpants, long sleeve shirts and other garments one wears to ward off the cold seems alien to me when the daily highs still tend to reach the 70s and 80s and the lows remain tolerable. But out the containers will come, the cold weather togs will hide under the bed while the warm weather clothing — the T-shirts and shorts — are packed to take their place in storage.

Make that some of the warm weather clothing. I never really put all the short sleeve shirts away. Knowing the peculiarities of southern weather, I always keep in mind that while the temperature one day could be in the 30s or 40s, the next day it could hit the upper 80s and the heavy coats and other insulated clothing will be pitched aside.

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And over the past few winters, our weather has been peculiar on steroids.

Over the past few years, we have had consecutive days of cold temperatures mixed with periods of ice and snow and sub-freezing temperatures. There have been endless days of rain.

There was a time growing up when we in the Deep South might see snow once — maybe twice — every five or six years. Growing up in south central Louisiana, snow was rarer than that. I could count the number times I saw snow as a child and teenager on one hand and not use all the fingers. Well, maybe all five. I remember the time during my senior year in high school we had track practice in 80 degree March weather and the next day saw snow on the ground.

Over the past few years, however, periods of ice and snow have been more common. Agree or disagree, our climate is changing. My wife has a brother and sister living in Vermont, and a sister in Missouri. In earlier years I can remember her telling me about her siblings’ problems with periods of blizzards and ice storms and thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

When we lived in North Alabama in the late 90s and went through a cold snap where we had 14 inches of snow and a temperature of 9 degrees, I pulled out a map, drew a line through Huntsville, Alabama, and told my family, “I’m moving no further north than here.” Over the past few winters, I’ve felt like I’ve lived north of Huntsville.

One thing I always liked about living in the south was the moderate temperatures during the winter months, and I hope those times will come back. I wish that the series of harsh winter weather we’ve had in the past few years will go away and the warmer, more pleasant, more spring-like weather we’ve enjoyed down here for centuries will return.

Unfortunately, I can’t bank on that return, so I’ll begin pulling out the long underwear, the sweatshirts and the sweaters and anticipate another cold, wet winter.

But I’ll continue to keep some short sleeve shirts out.

I’m still optimistic, and besides, as the saying goes, if I don’t like the weather, “wait around; it’ll change.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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