When the results of The Vane's weather survey went live yesterday, most people were interested in one question that reveals how different regions deal with winter's four-letter word. Here's a deeper look at how well your fellow drivers around the country think they can handle the snow.
The amount of interest in this one question in particular took me off-guard, since it's a truism that people who see large amounts of snow can handle it better than those who don't see it too often. The question asked respondents how much snow could accumulate on roadways before they felt it was unsafe to drive. They were presented with options ranging from "any snow" to "more than six inches." Some people took into account their own driving skills. Others thought about their vehicle's ability to handle slick roads. More than a few thought about the less-savvy drivers who would be slip-sliding around them. There was no right way to approach the question—any one of these factors could prevent you from driving in or after a snowstorm, and that's what the question was searching to answer.
In yesterday's post, I broke the results down by three rough regions (Midwest, Northeast, South/east) to highlight the relatively extreme differences in driving abilities between people who experience different levels of winter weather.
To nobody's surprise, people who live in the far north and along the Great Lakes are the most winter hardy, with exactly half of the area's respondents indicating that they're willing to drive in four or more inches of snow. Northeasterners can handle a modest amount of snow on the roadways, while southerners fall apart under a small coating (largely a result of inexperience and an inability to keep up with plowing/sanding).
Many readers wanted more information about the states that didn't make the cut, with some not taking kindly to the fact that the write-up excluded half the country. An executive producer for WAVY-TV in Hampton Roads, Virginia was so upset when he realized that his state wasn't included on the list that he announced to his followers he'd deleted the link to my post and it's "not worth your time."
In response to your requests to see the data for the other fifty states (I aim to please), here are similar pie charts for the entire country (minus Hawaii). As I did with the original results, I combined most of the states into groups that share similar terrain and weather patterns, while highlighting states that had large responses or often have a large variation in conditions from their respective regions.
There are no real surprises here. The only result that comes close to breaking stereotypes is that Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware as a group seem to handle snow roughly the same as respondents in New York and Massachusetts. The D.C. metro area is notoriously incapable of handling even a dusting of snow, which is unusual because snow is no stranger to the area. Granted, some of those results could come from the mountainous areas of Virginia (the survey didn't ask for location below the state level), but the population distribution of the state suggests that they're from the D.C. area.
For the fiftieth state, Hawaii, two people said "1-2 inches," two said "2-4 inches," and two said "more than 6 inches." They are probably people who have lived on the mainland at one point. The folks in Florida who indicated that they can handle larger amounts of snow are also likely transplants from the north.
When and if you have to go out driving in any winter weather this season, remember to take into account the driving abilities of your fellow drivers. It's a well-known fact that 100% of everyone else on the road doesn't know what they're doing.
[Top image: AP | Pie chart graphic by the author]