Today, as the South gets ready for Winter Storm Leon and the Raleigh area cancellations start rolling in (prediction for my area: 2 to 4 inches), I ask: When did they start naming winter storms, and what on earth for? Are they trying to scare us? Do they want to cause a run on milk in the supermarket?
Sure, we are wimpy about snow in the South. We cancel school for a week when we get two inches. But denizens of colder climates have nothing to snicker about. I know all about Winter Storm Janus.
Ron and I were in New York last week when Janus, which dropped about 12 inches of snow, breezed through, and I can assure you that we saw plenty of Southern-style panic. Yes, a foot of snow is a lot, but come on. It's not the End of Days. From what I observed, though, many people - even tough Northerners - now think it is.
Maybe my memory is deceiving me, but I could swear we were all tougher before snowstorms had names and blizzards were dumbed down. I blame a spate of mild winters, decades of slip-and-fall lawsuits, and lives increasingly lived in technology Never Never Land for our new-found wimpiness. A few measly snowflakes, and officials warn us to hunker down and not venture out unless we absolutely have to. Airlines cancel every flight from here to eternity, and the federal government tells all non-essential workers to stay home. If they wrote PANIC in skywriting, they couldn't be more clear. No wonder people are freaking out.
I say all this not as tough ex-New Yorker who is afraid of nothing. On the contrary, I am the biggest chicken there is. I am unabashedly pro caution, especially when it comes to personal safety. I don't like driving at night. I don't like driving in rain or snow. I don't like flying in any weather. But it's gotten so that I just roll my eyes when I hear dire weather forecasts, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
Unfortunately, one of these days the forecast is bound to be right. And when it is, all of us cynics, having rolled our eyes one time too many, will be in deep trouble: no milk, no snow shovel, and not a bag of sand in sight.
The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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