07 January 2009

Plowing the secondaries.

Having grown up in western Pennsylvania, I used to complain about the weather-phobic atmosphere of DC. The mere forecast of snow was enough to send residents to the grocery store to stock up on supplies like they were getting ready to spend a year on the space station. Flurries caused traffic to slow to a crawl, lest that flake get under the tire and send the car careening into a tree.

I don't know what's changed in the fifteen years since I left PA, or maybe it's just that NEPA is different, but this region exhibits surprisingly similar behavior to the District when it comes to snow. And we've got snowplows, lots of them, working the roads day and night.

Yesterday afternoon, we had about two inches of snow. Then it started to rain, so the snow turned into sno-cone consistency. No big deal. So I wake up this morning and find out that the kids' school is on a two-hour delay. Unbelievably, my college is on a two hour delay, too. The roads were so treacherous we all decided to pile in the little civic and go to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.

A little while later, I've got the kids in the car and we're off to school. My wife calls; school's closed. She also informs me that her college is closed. That's a school in the downtown of a small city, not some school out in the middle of the mountain wilderness. Closed.

Now, as I said before, maybe in the fifteen years since I've been in DC something has changed. Maybe there were lawsuits or legal advice or something. Maybe we've simply become a nation of losers. I don't know.

It just seems that a region that has seen snow since forever should be a little more accustomed to getting around in it.


JES said...

I blame The Weather Channel for a lot of this. The same thing's happened in N. Florida -- we're talking wind and rain here, of course, not wind and snow/ice/sleet -- the weathercasters are so freaking revved up by every little hiccup from the "norm," and it's all masquerading under the noble cover of "We're just want everybody to be safe."

Of course, I can't blame TWC for the fact that drivers here seem newly surprised when it does rain. This wet material falling upon us from above, what is, please? I'm a patient man but the way they drive in the rain you'd think they all were auditioning as egg deliverymen.

(Wow. It actually felt good to get that off my chest; had no idea I'd built up such resentment about it!)

cuff said...

No, I agree, the media has much to do with it. The weather segments when I was growing up were a few minutes at most and sandwiched in the end somewhere -- usually after sports. Now, the broadcast channels advertise their weather team as if they're some kind of crack codebreakers and your life depends on whether they're using "Doppler XT" or "Doppler 3000" or some other version of modeling.

It's probably one of the best demonstrations of media influence out there -- people who drove all their lives in downpours and snowfall are now stunned by the occurrence.