Thursday, February 24, 2005

Jack Frost: Son of Satan

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.


  1. Dude! you missed your calling as a journalist with a column in a local paper or Mag.... You could give Bill Oreilly a run for his money!


  2. I couldn't agree more. Here's a summary of any newscast from DC on
    Wednesday night:

    [Voice over] "The DC area girds for another winter blast.
    Meteorologist Phil Anderson will fire up the Doppler Philthousand Snow Machine and give us the latest on what to expect. We'll be right back with live STORM
    TRACKER coverage!"


    [Anchorman]: Tonight the DC area is again in mother nature's sights.
    A winter storm is expected to drop the best part of an inch of snow on the region, and your Fox 12 news team has got the story covered. First let's
    go to Joe Schmoe in Merrifield."

    [Reporter, with salt dome behind him] "Thanks Gordon, as you can see I'm at the VDOT facility in Merrified and behind me trucks are being loaded with salt in preparation for the anticipated snowfall. Virginia expects
    drivers to begin arriving shortly and will have 800 trucks on Northern Virginia roads by 2a.m. It's going to be another long night here.
    Back to you in the studio."

    [Anchorman] "Thanks Joe. Suzie Snitch has the story from Northwest."

    [Reporter in front of grocery store] "Thanks, Gordon. As you can see, I'm here at a VERY busy Safeway off Wisconsin Avenue as people from around the area prepare for the coming snowfall. I spoke to the store manager a
    few minutes ago, and he relayed that they've sold out of bottled water and snow shovels, and are close to running out of many other items. There are long lines at the checkout as people rush to get what they need and get home
    before the snow starts falling. Back to you, Gordon."

    [Continue ad nauseum]


  3. Anonymous1:01 PM

    I agree with erik