Why are we so fascinated by snow? I, for instance, spend an enormous amount of time writing and studying and talking about corrupt politicians and all sorts of other stuff but let it snow and all other subjects go out the window.
I did a Vox Pop radio program asking for people’s snow stories the other day and every phone lit up. Maybe it’s the fact that we have some of our most formative experiences as kids with snow. I remember my father taking his twin boys for a walk in Central Park after a great snowstorm and I remember my Uncle Sol recruiting us at a very young age to help him unbury his Studebaker (both ends looked the same). I remember snowballs and snowmen and wondering why the virgin snow turned yellow so quickly after it fell.
Later, like most school kids, I began to pray for snow days and later still, I began to worry about getting to work through a snowstorm. Each drive was an adventure as I commuted from Alford to New Paltz in my VW Bug. We all find out that there are crazy people who tend to drive way too fast or way too slow in the snow. Some tailgate you or honk at you. Some digitize you.
Then we learned about something new called four-wheel drive. New and improved tires handled snow better than we could have ever imagined.
Soon even the politicians got involved. New York Mayor John V. Lindsay learned the hard way what happens when you don’t pay enough attention to picking up snow. My car dropped dead on the old Grand Central Parkway and a tow truck pushed me right into a stopped car in front of me. I’m still having nightmares about that one.
So now we have governors and mayors who don’t want to get blamed for lack of preparation. Governor Cuomo in New York showed his true colors when his Metropolitan Transportation Authority ordered the subways to shut down in New York for the first time that I can remember. Unfortunately, he forgot to tell his colleague, the long suffering Mayor Bill de Blasio, that he was shutting the trains down in his own city. I had to stay over in Albany for two nights since the new governor, Charlie Baker, shut down the Mass Pike in its entirety.
The problem, of course, is that the predicted snowstorm never really shaped up. Let me ask you; is it not possible to close down the Pike from Springfield to Boston and NOT from the New York line to Springfield? The problem with these people is that they are not properly monitoring conditions in real time. I understand their fear that they will be held responsible if something goes wrong but their jobs demand that they think on their feet. I guess that’s what we’re all in for as our elected leaders get more and more chicken and close down roads and schools when they don’t have to.
I always scream at the weather forecasters as I watch them on television, “Look out the damned window!” Politicians might try that technique. They could learn a lot from it. It is also interesting to see the difference in how town road crews are instructed. I get the feeling that some towns use salt and sand and others do not; it’s one thing to be environmental and yet another to save lives if not money.
Maybe it’s the mass communications systems crying wolf.
Maybe it’s CNN seeing dollar signs and having people outside in their swanky jackets talking about impending doom while little more than flurries float around their heads.
We wonder whether we are watching a weather version of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Hey folks, this proves that there are big bucks in weather events and it also proves that we are not always being told the truth.
Originally published in the Berkshire Eagle, 1/30/15