Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, meant that snow was an "event" since the average annual snowfall there is less than six inches. Whenever that four-letter-word was in the forecast, you could count on a run at the grocery stores on milk, eggs, and bread; the shelves would be totally cleaned out.
Schools would be closed and the news anchors would issue dire warnings about winter safety. Then we'd usually get an inch or two of snow which would melt the next day, and all the moms would be trying to figure out what to do with all the extra eggs, milk, and bread, while trying to not to strangle their overexcited kids who are home from school with nothing to do.
Why doesn't Charlotte get much snow? It's all about geography. The Appalachian mountain ridge runs roughly north to south not far to the west of the city and tends to shield it from the winter storms that move eastward across the country. It's like there's a protective dome on top of the city that pushes back against the storm systems spilling over the mountains and simply tosses them over the city eastwards towards the coast. Thus, not much snow.
When I left home for college thirty years ago I was so psyched to be headed for upstate New York. Woo hoo...lots of snow! That winter turned out to be one of the mildest for upstate New York in years: we got three measly inches. And Charlotte had a record snowfall that winter: 12 inches...all at once. And I missed it.
The two winters I spent in D.C. fifteen years ago were also mild, not much snow. And the one winter I lived in Sarasota, well...I was in my shirtsleeves in January. What do you expect for Florida?
One of the reasons we chose Idaho as our new home is because we wanted four distinct seasons, with a good bit of snow but reasonable temperatures. We didn't want Minnesota winters, but we wanted more than what we saw in Charlotte. We're happy so far with what we've seen here, but to some pessimists the four seasons here are: almost winter, winter, still winter and road construction.
Down in Sandpoint (which is in the valley), the annual snowfall average is about 70 inches, and our house is about 500 feet higher in elevation on the mountainside. I can't find annual snowfall for our elevation, but I would guess that it's probably about 10 inches more per year than down in the valley.
This year the experts are calling for a La Niña winter, meaning more cold and snow than usual for the Pacific Northwest. Back in December of 2008, this area saw a record snowfall that dumped about five feet of snow...in one week, if I remember correctly. Since we started this whole "Westward Ho" idea three years ago, I had been watching the weather in this area every day from back in North Carolina, and I was amazed at the snow they got here that winter. Here's a short YouTube video I found that someone from North Idaho posted that week:
Hopefully we won't get THAT much this winter, but it should be enough to make me happy. A neighbor told us that one year they didn't get any appreciable snow up here, and you should have seen my crestfallen face!
Anyway, we have snow in the forecast every day from now through Sunday, so I should finally get a taste of winter. And I'm ready.