Time to Fall Back
It's almost time to set the clock back an hour. Daylight Saving
Time ends Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 a.m., along with that perceived extra hour of sleep.
Couple that with an increasing winter chill and the threat of snow flurries, and you've got the start of another winter in the High Country. Never fear, High Country, The Mountain Times will be with you every step of the way.
The Experts Speak
It's the calm before the storm, said Harris Teeter manager Bill Lander.
The occasional creaky cart makes its way down the produce aisle, but, as foreboding as it may seem, it's nothing unusual. At least, "not yet," Lander said.
If the snowflakes forecasted to fall Thursday make landing, everything changes. Expect the calm aisles to become a desperate quest for survival, complete with elbows, cart pushers and the ever-intimidating bread and milk hunters.
The first things to go? "Milk, bread, fire logs, stuff that's quick to eat and quick to fix," Lander said.
"In case they get stuck," he said.
With last winter and its record power outages on everyone's mind, the panic comes early, even before the first snowfall.
Take auto supply stores like Advanced Auto on Boone Heights Drive. They're determined not to let last winter's snow chain shortage happen again.
"We've prepared better for this winter," retail parts pro Casey Miller said. "We've got a bunch of snow chains in stock. We've actually been receiving them since the summertime."
Last year, it wasn't unusual for struggling motorists to have to call several stores before finding their chains.
"One of our warehouses had a big-time, big-time shortage on them last year, and we actually had to order them from an outside source," Miller said. "This year, we've doubled the orders. We've got a lot more and we can get them really quickly if we don't have them."
And they're already selling.
"I've already sold several sets in the past week," Miller said.
And he expects those sales to increase with the snow flakes. Chains aren't for everyone.
"If you've got a four-wheel drive, you'll be okay, but if it gets really bad, you're going to need them," he said. "It's better to have them just in case you get snowed in."
But don't put them on if there isn't snow on the roads. "It's bad for the car," he said.
And that's not the only thing that's bad for your car. So is inexperience. Just ask WATA and WZJS longtime afternoon drive host Andy Glass.
"The first snowstorm is always kind of a little bit hectic," he said. "If this is their first winter, or last winter was their first winter, there might be a little higher level of panic than the locals who have lived here for decades."
And he has some advice, so you can avoid being one of the traffic-blocking fender benders he'll talk about on the air.
"Go slow," he said. "Increase your following distance. Burn your headlights."
And always carry a thermos of hot chocolate, The Mountain Times suggests.
As for the big guns? The salt trucks and scrapers?
"We are ready," Watauga County maintenance engineer Kevin Whittington said. "We've already had our snow day, that's what we call it. It's a practice day. We put our equipment on, we calibrate our equipment, and we check our equipment out to make sure it's in working order. We do a pre-run of our routes, and that's with our rental contractors, as well."
The salt mine tanks are full, and the stockpiles are replenished. The waiting game starts.
"With the forecast as rain, we will probably not put out any salt brine due to the fact that the rain will wash it off," he said. "We will watch the weather forecast really closely and, if need be, we will have manpower here around the clock."
It's not just the snow that has him watching the Weather Channel.
"We are expecting some real cool temperatures on Friday night, and we will be looking at that really closely as we get closer," he said. "We're hoping they might change the forecast."
In the meantime, bundle up and always keep an extra blanket in your car.