As I sat at my desk yesterday morning, reading through the continuing reports that this pending snow storm would be the worst since 2010, I got to thinking “CRAP! I need to get to the store!”
Growing up in upstate NY, half way between Buffalo and Rochester, and another 20 minutes from Lake Ontario, snow was just an ordinary thing each winter. The winters when we didn’t have at least a couple storms that dropped 6 inches to a foot of snow were the ones that made you pause. After moving to the area, approaching 7 years ago now, it seems we’re lucky to get a storm every couple of years. When reports say 6 inches of snow, most people go into a panic and we get 1-2 inches instead. I’m convinced that on some occasions we actually live in the Truman Show bubble, and people are watching us to see how much snow they need to predict for us to overreact.
With that being said, I know Upstate NY and DC are completely different apples when it comes to storms. NY has a fleet of plows and residents who are familiar with driving in the snow for several months of the year. Schools are used to laying salt early and have smaller plows that go around paving the way for a clear entrance to the school, and homeowners know they need to shovel early and often to clear sidewalks and cars. When a storm was rumored in the area, students would go nuts looking out the window and crossing their fingers, toes, arms and legs in hopes that school would be canceled. Guess what? We always had school. If it started snowing before you went to bed, you knew you’d have school in the morning. The worst sound in the world was the sound of the plows scraping the streets clean. You’d wake up all excited, looking out the window you’d see that everything was white and the storm had dropped a foot of snow easily. The only problem would be that the streets would be as black as they were in the middle of the summer. Those damn plows had worked all night picking up every bit of snow, which meant you got to go to school.
It’s obviously a little different down here. I remember being laughed at in 2010 because I had a shovel in the trunk of my car; this was about 2 weeks before the first wave of snow came through. I really thought about starting a small business, where people could rent my shovel and have to pay added costs for insurance on it, in case it broke from the shoveling.
I could go on and on, but as I was sitting at my desk yesterday, getting ready to rush off to the store, I thought to myself, “I hope I can buy milk still.” A couple years ago, a roommate of mine, in advance of the expected snow, who was also from NY, said “I’ve grown up in snowstorms, I’m not going to the store”. She was terribly mistaken when she went the next day to find not even a loaf of bread on the shelf. When she got back, it clicked – it wasn’t that I was going so I could avoid going in the snow, I was going because nothing would be left the next day. I told her I learned early on that if you’re going to survive you need to plan as though it’s the end of the world.
Here we are, hours from when the next snow storm is supposedly going to hit, and I’m sure everyone has their predictions set. Is this going to be a storm that gets a great deal of notice, dropping 6-10 inches of snow? Or, are we going to be looking out to 2-3 inches of snow, thinking “I probably didn’t need to get 2 loaves of bread.” Yesterday I made it over to the Giant grocery store and grabbed just a couple items. Thankfully I had beaten the rush, but still, at noon, 36 hours before the storm, I had to park in the corner of a lot that must’ve held a couple hundred cars. The lines were already getting long, and some people were preparing for what seemed like the Super Bowl all over again. Thankfully, Al and I have over 100 bottles of wine, because if the storm was calling for 12 inches of snow I have little faith that we would’ve found any bottles outside of a Total Wine, where I would honestly think about getting stuck in during a storm (if I had the opportunity to choose).
Projections have the DC area looking at anywhere from 4 inches on the low end to 12 inches on the high end. My guess would be schools will likely start closing around 5pm today and all of us who follow OPM will be tweeting away asking if anyone has heard anything. Flakes are supposed to start around 8pm, which means everyone will be busy watching the Syracuse vs Pittsburgh basketball game, so at least everyone will be in and safe.
I hate to say it, but make sure you go to the store as soon as possible. I still laugh that it seems like I’m preparing for the end of the world, but if work is closed for a couple days you can assume that the grocery stores have made a great deal of money from early shoppers.
Oh, and one other thing, if you ever see a shovel in the back of someone’s car, he/she might not be a crazy, rather they might just be prepared for the next snowfall.