When snow hits Dixie, people up North tend to get a little mean. The comments section of any website is never the place to look for sympathy, but the remarks beneath endlessly reposted photos of long stretches of abandoned vehicles and videos of cars spinning helplessly during recent storms seem almost gleeful.
"Watch half-inch of snow paralyze Atlanta."
"When lack of common sense meets lack of preparation."
"No wonder they lost the Civil War."
Ouch. Even these wisecrackers will agree there is nothing funny about a storm responsible for dozens of traffic deaths and widespread power outages that triggered states of emergency across the South. The insurance bills resulting from the avalanche of claims won't be a riot, either. (See " How slick roads raise your insurance rates.") But in Northerners' defense, hundreds of thousands of motorists were, after all, stranded by what appeared to be little more than a few inches of snow. Why?
Warm-weather tires, snow-covered roads don't mix
Matt Lowrance, a tire technician in Charlotte, N.C., says his shop always has on stock one or two severe service tires, a type well-equipped for snow, and sells "a decent amount." But such customers represent a small minority of drivers. Continental Tire, one of the country's largest producer of snow tires, doesn't even market winter tires in the south. "In the winter states, we advocate that drivers swap out their tires," says Sheri Herrmann, a communications coordinator with Continental, in South Carolina. "We don't sell a lot of snow tires in the South because they just don't perform well in dry conditions. They're OK. They're just not optimal." If you've ever tried to walk up a muddy or snowy hill wearing flat-sole shoes, you appreciate the value of a good tread. That effect is amplified when driving.