Oh, No! A Snowstorm’s Coming!

See the source image

We have a “winter storm” in our forecast this weekend, and my town is freaking out over it. The mayor made his traditional state of emergency robo-call, urging residents not to park on the street. If you don’t have a driveway, he added, park in the municipal pool parking lot, a mere two miles from this neighborhood.

I’ve lived here all my life, and not once have I seen the town get snowed in. Even after the rare storm that drops two or three feet of snow on us, the streets are clear and everything’s open again a day later. Nevertheless, mobs of terrified residents flock to the supermarket to stock up on milk, bread, and batteries: they’re ready to sit out a week’s confinement to their homes. I can’t believe people in other states are quite as silly about snowstorms as my fellow Jerseyans.

What usually happens is there’s hardly any snow accumulation at all. I remember one Sunday, some years ago, when the media went into a full-scale hoot-and-holler about “the mother of all blizzards” on its way to bury us alive. Mayors, businessmen, and school boards acted on Sunday to declare towns, stores, public offices, and schools closed the next day. But Monday came and went without a single snowflake falling, and people got rather cheesed off about it. Threats of lawsuits abounded, but none of them came to anything: the weathermen had just been wrong, that’s all.

So I don’t expect this weekend’s weather prophecies to amount to much; but I’ll let you know if they do.

26 comments on “Oh, No! A Snowstorm’s Coming!

  1. I’m not familiar with the east coast at all, but I did grow up in Missouri, and we occasionally had some blizzards that were hard to deal with- school closings, etc. Right now, I have a friend in Kansas City who has been dealing with about a 10 inch snowfall, strong winds, and very hazardous streets, while we here in Idaho have had very little snow so far, just rain.
    We just deal with whatever as best we can.

  2. It’s the “boy who cried ‘wolf'” principle; i.e., it’s always the storm you didn’t prepare for that actually hits. 🙂 The same principle guarantees that the only file you didn’t back up will be the one that gets corrupted.

  3. My northeast city hasn’t seen a snowstorm like the one in the picture in over 4 years! Yet, the “weather” people who can’t predict the weather of the same day because they’re saying “sunny and clear’ while its cloudy and raining outside, arrogantly continue their attempt to predict the weather days in advance. What a job being wrong with benefits.

  4. What gets me is how after a weather forecast that is way off, the weatherman will the next night go on as if he never made a mistake. Last night we were told we might see some flakes of snow this morning; we got an inch – which is perfect because everything looks so pretty and tomorrow it will all be gone.

    1. Now they’ve changed our forecast to heavy rain, and who knows what they’ll say tomorrow? Somehow a constantly shifting “prediction” strikes me as no prediction at all.

    2. From prediction to “predilection” – “the widespread predilection for the fancy and frivolous has its roots in decades of drab socialist conformity.” The weather people on TV are leftists and get their speaking points from the AP. When I used to watch TV I recall getting the same weather report when I hanged the channels.

    3. OOPS – I meant to type “changed” the channels. But on second thought, “hanged” is okay too (even though it should be ‘hung.”

    1. They can’t even get the weekend forecast right, yet we’re supposed to “trust” them about climate change.

  5. Well, this time, the boy who cried “wolf” should have cried “giant wolf.” As I’ve already mentioned in a different post, our snowstorm came in overnight, and it was a doozy. It wasn’t just the amount of snow that was the killer, it was the drifting caused by high winds, gusting to 40mph. In some places (very few of these, alas, and all of them very short), there’d be barely an inch, and in other places (many of these), there’d be two feet. And it was hard to tell where the deep spots were.

    I knew I wouldn’t be able to get my car through the drifts this morning (I leave the house at 4:45am, in between the night and morning plow-and-shovel teams), so I walked to church. Five blocks in blowing snow, below-zero windchill, high winds that occasionally almost knocked me down, and frequent missteps into one of those deep drifts, since I couldn’t tell where the curbs, curb-cuts, and driveways were. But I made it! Yay! Thanks be to God! And one of the couples I know gave me a ride home after Mass at 8am, so I didn’t have to go through that again. Good thing they had sturdy front-wheel drive, because even on one of the streets that had been plowed, the plows had pushed a ridge of snow from another street right into our path.

    Too bad I can’t make my trek through the blizzard into a story to tell my grandchildren, because (1) I wasn’t barefoot, (2) it wasn’t uphill both ways, (3) it was only 5 blocks, not 5 miles, and (4) I don’t have any grandchildren. 🙂

    1. That reminds me of a rare blizzard we had some years ago: three feet, at least. We couldn’t get our back door open, but we did force the front door open a bit, so I put on my waders and set out to shovel the back. Halfway around the building, a mis-step spilled me onto my back. And waddaya know–I couldn’t get up again! The snow was too deep, too powdery, and I just flailed around in it. I thought, “This is not good. They’re gonna find my frozen carcass a few weeks from now…” But eventually I was able to struggle back onto my feet and free the back door. I have no clear memory of how long that took.

  6. It seems, these days, that weather forecasters seem to have a distinct flair for the dramatic. I’ve heard some real doom and gloom and, in most cases, it only serves to torpedo their credibility.

    Having spent decades in Denver, this is nothing particularly new to me. The edge of the Rockies, leading out onto the plains, produces some interesting weather and the forecasts were a roller coaster ride. I recall a morning in the mid ‘70s when I dressed for my construction job before looking out the window. It turns out that there had been an unanticipated storm overnight and there was about a foot of snow. Being Denver, most of it melted within a day or two.

    The mother of all “boy who cried wolf” stories, however, was the great Christmas Eve Blizzard of 1982. The airwaves had been alive with dire warnings of a massive snowstorm which would happen, but as of the night of December 23, I was skeptical, having heard such warnings far too many times. I recall driving home late that night and seeing a solitary snowflake drift lazily to the ground and thinking “so much for that storm”.

    The next morning, I awoke to mayhem. A snowfall of massive proportion had buried Denver to unprecedented levels. Everything was stopped in its tracks. But here’s the bad part, this snow stayed on the ground for months.

    Normally, snowfall in Denver is short lived and even a significant snowfall will usually melt in all but the most shaded places within a matter of days. Often, the day after a storm, the skies will clear and a strong west wind called a Chinook will form. Air blowing over the Rockies and onto the plain below compresses slightly and warms that air. During a good Chinook, you can actually see the snow melt in real time, before your very eyes. I have literally shoveled out from snowstorms in shorts and sandals as 65 degree temperatures the day after even a massive storm are not uncommon.

    But not in 1982’s storm. There was so much snow that sunlight was reflected and the snow hardened, making the fallen snow behave more like the snow in northern climes. As best I recall, the Christmas Eve Blizzard made itself remembered well into March, which was the only “closed winter” I ever recall experiencing in the Mile High City. Adding insult to injury, that next spring we had a massive wet snow on May 17, so just about the time we were enjoying the beauty of late spring on the Front Range, we were treated to another snow day where everything ran in slow motion.

    My point, however, is that exaggerated weather forecasts are poor practice. When the Christmas Eve Blizzard of 1982 hit, I had heard it all before and didn’t take the warnings seriously, at all. Denver media outlets had exaggerated the prediction of storms so many times that I had gotten into the habit of ignoring forecasts and relying on my own senses. Aside from being housebound for a day, there was no cost to me, but it could have been much worse had someone attempted to traverse the Interstates east of town and been caught unawares. Since 1982, the media has become considerably less credible, in my eyes.

    1. For all the media frenzy we get here in New Jersey, it just doesn’t snow anywhere near to what you’ve experienced. I’ve read your description, but I can’t imagine it. Just totally beyond my experience.

    2. Denver has the occasional whopper of a snowstorm. The abrupt transition from the Colorado Rockies to the high plains makes for some interesting weather. From late spring, into mid summer, the weather forecast is almost always for pleasant weather with the possibility of rain showers in the afternoon. The weather is patchy. I can distinctly recall being snowed out and unable to work on the east side of town, but coming home to the west side, sitting outdoors with my shirt off and taking in the sun; this during December, mind you.

      Four wheel drive pickups and Subaru station wagons are very popular vehicles there, for good reason. The oddest part is that a two hour slog to work the morning after a storm does not mean adverse weather by the end of the day. I started many a day slipping and sliding my way to work and ended that same day driving home on dry roads. I kept a dry pair of socks (or two), packaged in Ziploc bags, and stowed in my vehicles, just in case. Sorel boots and a pair of athletic shoes were common companions behind the seat and usually several forms of outerwear, ranging from a windbreaker to an arctic parka. At least two pairs of gloves were a good idea, as well.

      I miss that place desperately, but the legalization of marijuana for recreational use has changed it indelibly and I doubt that I’ll ever go back.

    3. Well, I did see “The Shining,” so I do have some possibly inaccurate idea of what that Colorado weather is like.

      You could always move to New Jersey, if you like driving in a lot of traffic.

    4. Up in the mountains, almost anything is possible. Trail Ridge Road, through Rocky Mountain National Park, is closed from October well into spring, sometimes opening well after Memorial Day. So yes, much like the Shining, up “in the hills”, you can get snowed in for quite a while. One of the coldest places in the nation is Fraser, CO, although it is no longer reported as such because that was negatively impacting the business at nearby Winter Park Ski area. Fraser actually has the lowest mean temperature of any incorporated town in the lower 48.

      But Denver is another story. It can be as warm as Albuquerque in the summer and is frequently only a few degrees cooler during the winter. That is until a low pressure system places itself just so and serves up a winter storm that is reminiscent of the rust belt . . . and then it melts a day or two later. It’s an entertaining climate in which to live.

Leave a Reply