Snow fell on my area again today. We're supposed to get between three and eight inches here in western Maryland, north of DC, depending on who you listen to. When bad weather hits, you'd think we lived in Yuma, Arizona (91% sunshine annually - see record here) the way the locals deal with it.
The government should import the unemployed from the Buffalo area and set them up here to teach courses on winter weather. Classroom instruction would include discussions of supply allocation and that wearing a coat will not drastically reduce your hipness. Then the group would go outside for a practical hands-on lesson in clearing your WHOLE vehicle, (not just the front window), and using gearshifts to slow down.
When I was working my first job ever at the grocery store, I observed the most ridiculous phenomenon. Whenever there was snow or sleet or ice in the forecast, the whole town would be in the store to stock up on bread, milk, and toilet tissue. (At least they've got both ends of the process covered.) Like they're going to be stranded in their homes for a week and a half if we get four inches. But that's not the worst part. If we didn't get any snow, (or even if we did), and there was another forecast for some a couple days later, they'd all be back!! What did they do - have french toast fart parties?
The media just encourages the panic too. (That's their job in general, but that's a whole other post). TV and radio stations sensationalize the snow forecasts like it's going to paralyze the community for months and wipe out half the population. Tune in at six and eleven to get the up to the minute best guess by our certified meterologist and his InstaDoppler 25000 AccuZoom satellite technology that can detect temperature differentials with such a fine resolution, they can tell you've left the fridge open again.
I'm sure I am not the only one in the blogosphere that has that one relative who will watch six hours of the Weather Channel straight through. Anything more severe than a drizzle happens, you can forget about your regularly scheduled programming, it's Updates on the Eights until the system is over the Atlantic. I personally prefer to skip all the hype and crisis coverage and LOOK OUT THE WINDOW for myself. Maybe even walk outside!
A late afternoon report of snow showers provokes claims of "Watch out! there's BLACK ICE out there!!!" As if Lucifer himself is hosing down the pavement, and then waiting for innocent victims by the side of the road. Black ice is the most feared weather condition of all. It is spoken of in a tone usually reserved for campfire stories of the undead.
And don't let them announce any accidents on the highways. That'll prompt a call by itself to warn about the fifteen car pileup near exit 37. Of course, what I encounter when I actually get there is one cop, a tow truck, and some jerkweed sitting off in the ditch. This is the guy who still hasn't figured out that slamming on your brakes on a slushy road (which is not the ice-encrusted path of doom that was foretold) is STILL a really bad idea.
But he was never in any danger of being stranded. He was probably on his cel phone already.