The Official Memphis Position on Snow and Ice

When I first moved to Memphis I realized right away that locals and motor vehicles shouldn’t be allowed to mix.

Even under the best of conditions they form unstable compounds, traveling in erratic, unpredictable trajectories which, in some unexplained quantum-mechanical fashion, are able to occupy all possibly lanes of traffic simultaneously, at least until interacting violently with similar neighboring compounds.

The only know method of intensifying this chaotic reaction is to add precipitation.

Brent Diggs demonstrating the Memphis cold weather response

Your author practicing the suggested Memphis cold weather response

When introduced to the greater metropolitan area, rain is enough to cause spontaneous formations of rapidly bonded steel to accumulate on freeways and intersections throughout the region.

With the addition of snow, there ensues a cascade reaction of such severity that only the most intrepid researcher would travel outside his or her immediate neighborhood.

Bottom line: When traveling to Memphis this holiday season, leave your snow at home.

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25 Responses to The Official Memphis Position on Snow and Ice

  1. My Wife went to Germany recently when it snowed there, people just got with it like it was another day. Even the trains ran on time!

    And yet, they couldn’t even win a war…

  2. Brent, glad to see you back. You’re one of my heroes (no, really). Adding your new site into the reader…as for snow, and your reaction to it, priceless. I get that same reaction with spiders.

  3. Matt S says:

    I remember when I was Memphis-area resident I drove past four cars that had apparently all just driven straight into each other in the middle of an intersection. The smashed front ends made a perfect square around the glittering remains of their headlights.

    And then there was a fifth car, a little ways up, that had driven straight into the curb and was perpendicular with the direction I’m sure it would have preferred to be facing.

    I’m not sure how this happens at a timed traffic signal, and can only imagine what the result would have been at a four-way stop. More hilarious?

  4. LOBO says:


    -We didn’t want to give you Europeans any of our snow anyway.

  5. Roann says:

    You have nailed it once again. Living here is like living in a land allergic to weather. My favorite thing to mock is when there is a severe thunderstorm (is there any other kind?) and all 3 networks interrupt programming to broadcast the fact that it is indeed raining outside. Showing a map of where the storm is going to hit in the next 60 seconds really impresses me! I say, just look out the window, then you will know.
    During the last winter weather warning, I laughed so hard I had to leave the room when the verbally challenged weather guy announced that “the precipitation would be liquid”! but failed to say what kind — coffee? tea? milk? It was just too much.
    The best advice here in Memphis is to stay off the roads until the sun comes out.

  6. The whole south is like that. I assume you mean Memphis, TN, and not Egypt.

  7. Brent says:

    FreelanceGuru -You simply have to admire that German efficiency, but to be fair, Memphis is impressive in its own way. It routinely operates under a load of heat, racial resentment, and government incompetence, that would cripple a lesser town.

    Unfinished Rambler -You must be quite an underachiever to have me as a role model. You must also have some disturbingly large spiders to send people hurdling off the road to avoid them.

    Matt S -What you witnessed was automotive ballet, a spontaneous performance art with a strong following in this area. The fifth car, I’m sure, was a misty-eyed admirer, caught up in the beauty of the moment.

    LOBO -Quite right. If we were to dip into our Strategic Snow Stockpile every time a European ally started whining for some, we would soon find ourselves at the mercy of rogue arctic states in the face of the global warming crisis. Write your congressman: American snow is for Americans only.

    Roann -Clearly you have no appreciation for the value of late breaking news. I’m sure you’d prefer window-shade radar. Some people have no regard for progress.

    Father Muskrat -Yes, I am referring to southwestern Tennessee. I don’t think southerners are even allowed to drive in Egypt. Something about scrubbing the skidmarks off the pyramid…but of course we have that problem here too.

  8. Steph says:

    I figured there was no way that drivers anywhere could be worse than those found here in California – where shooting your fellow motorists is considered a legitimate pastime – then I read this.

    Is it possible that Memphis drivers are worse than the jackasses out here? I suppose it is. You guys have snow.

  9. leigh says:

    hey brent! i didn’t know you were blogging again. nice to see you back. texans are the same way. a little water, and they completely forget have to drive.

    • Lance says:

      No, Texans forgot that they shouldn’t drive in any form of water, wet or hardening! It was obvious as they were driving today, did I say driving, I should have said sculpting plastic and metal. I don’t think the majority of things they drive have much steel in them now! Snow and driving are not the best thing unless it is for making unusual combination’s as well proven today!

  10. Not to be argumentative with Leigh, but having lived in Texas for a total of more decades that I care to admit, it’s my firm belief that simply the presence of oxygen in the atmosphere somehow makes Texas drivers rank just under bumper car drivers.

    I’ve proposed an experiment to see how my fellow Texans drive without their precious oxygen, but no one seems willing to accept any liability for said experiment. Wimps.

  11. Alex L. says:

    Hey I recognise that look! It usually follows me not knocking though before I enter the bathroom.

  12. Debbie says:

    Love the snowflake comet. The OC has such amazing special effects.

  13. Brent says:

    Steph -I know it’s hard to believe, but having moved to Memphis from your general neighborhood I can tell you with great personal authority that even without snow the drivers here are worse. Much, much worse.

    leigh -You what they say about drinking and driving: “If you can’t handle your water, get off the road.” Or was it “swerve?” Anyway, thanks for dropping by, it’s good to have you back.

    Doug -Not only will I back your experiment, I think I can supply you with some necessary equipment, courtesy of the late Doctor Toboggans.

    Alex L. -What? No gouging of the eyes trying to remove the mental image? No singing of the hair by the caustic aroma? I don’t think you’d survive long at our house.

    Debbie -Only the most astute readers recognize Haley’s Snowflake especially as it only swings past Memphis once every 76.253 years.

  14. Camille says:

    Why did we move here again?

  15. Chris non-C says:

    In my many travels, I have developed a theory about driving conditions and local habits. Its seems that consistency is the key to reaching your destination and avoiding the “automovtive ballet”. In most of the European countries I’ve vivisted, everyone drove as though they were on an amphetamine drip. (Most notable those cooky Spainiards) Meanwhile, in the small island nation of Malta, they drive much like Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy. The end result is that everyone seems to arrive at their destination relatively unscathed. These distinctly different rhythms have the same result that allows a ballet free flow of traffic. In America however, we attract driving styles from all over, blended together and causing as, Brent puts it, bonding.* The key is to get everyone on the same page. Either everyone drives like a maniac or Morgan Freeman. This driving consistency will get us through these dangerous times. You know, snow, racial resentment and incompetence.

    *Wisconsin, has fewer problems than other states because they have this driving consistency. Presumably, because no ever moves to Wisconsin from somewhere else.

  16. Tim says:

    To reduce the troubles invoked by snowdrops and or frozen rainflakes, simply have slippery precipitation for 8 months of the year. That’s how we train our drivers to deal with them up here in Canada. Then we take a couple months off for spring and fall, and 2 for summer, just to fill the year up.

  17. Brent says:

    Camille -For the scenery.

    Chris non-C -Clearly this whole “melting pot” concept needs to be re-examined. Preferably from a safe distance. How is the weather on Malta this time of year?

    Tim -So we need to inoculate our drivers with frozen weather? I guess the survivors would drive better just from natural selection.

  18. Chris non-C says:

    I wish I knew.

  19. Professional Videokonferenz says:

    I like to experience snow since I was a child. It’s impossible here in Philippines.

  20. atchisson says:

    believe it or not I have the same leather coat as you, well it looks the same. /with an expression like that you should be an actor

  21. D-Rock says:

    I still have nightmares of that 8-inch snowstorm from last May. I was so frightened by the driving of Memphians that I went home and stayed home all night–on a Friday, no less!

  22. I thought you were writing about today. I followed this link from your facebook. :D

  23. Heather Nichols says:

    Drivers in Memphis were bad with or without snow. The one time it snowed when I was there, they shut down the mall and it had barely dusted the ground. We went out driving for fun! I saw more accidents there in 9 months than anywhere else in my entire life!

  24. Brent says:

    Professional Videokonferenz -Snow on a tropical island would be quite a trick. A second childhood is quite impressive as well.

    atchisson -Clearly, you have great taste in protective outer garments. As for my expression, some say I am an actor already. But they are usually the ones who haven’t seen my work with DangerCouch.

    D-Rock -There is nothing quite as traumatizing as frozen surfaces in the bluff city. In fact, I usually stay home for a couple days after a snow just in case someone is behind schedule with their crazy driving.

    Bill Snodgrass -Today, last week, or last December, it doesn’t really matter. What we’re talking about here is a meteorological constant, one that is freshly applicable with every new snowfall.

    Heather Nichols -I like to think it is because people here like to feel closer to each other. And sometimes a yellow line, a median, or even a concrete freeway barrier is just too much isolation to bear.