Winter Storm Wimpy
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.
Well, I think the news media in general have discovered that selling fear works, thus the whole storm naming thing (which I think is rather ridiculous). When I was in high school we moved to Georgia from up north, and we all had a good laugh at how the groceries stores were completely cleaned out of bread and milk at the mere rumor of snow. Fast forward to after living for 10 years in North Carolina, and I am now the one joining the crowd and getting freaked out at all the snow! I have to calm myself down now that I live in the north again, as I now stick out as a crazy person :) (Though I do have to say that the first year I was in North Carolina we did have a crazy ice storm, my apartment was out of power for a week, and I was very glad that I could walk to a grocery store!)
1/29/2014 12:55:55 am
Ice is pretty serious, I agree, and it is a bigger problem in the South than snow. But if they would stop screaming "the end is nigh" every day, we might actually take them seriously when a real weather emergency occurs.
1/28/2014 09:18:46 am
Hi Sarah - Great post! I'm with you - when did they start naming storms? I'm in Florida and hoping I can still get home later this week in spite of the snow !
1/29/2014 12:58:16 am
If they can't clear the runways from this, then we are all in much more trouble than even I had thought.
1/29/2014 12:59:45 am
Yes. Then we might actually listen to the warnings when they happen, and there would be fewer people in the ditch.
Even here in Canada, people seem to be surprised it snows in winter! It seems that the weather is only treated in hysteria mode.
1/29/2014 01:01:38 am
How crazy that even in Canada people are surprised when it snows! I had imagined that Canadians would be prepared for any and all winter weather. Denial is universal, I guess.
1/28/2014 10:51:49 am
I am a product of a well known blizzard, "blizzard of 77", and a long time native of Buffalo, NY. I have lived in NC for 10 years and still get the remarks, "you should be used to the snow" or "this really isn't cold for you". The thing is, inclement weather is far worse down here. Roads turn to ice, and drivers aren't used to driving in it. The use of salt and gravel are not used or are not as available. I too get scared Sarah, you won't see me on the roads. Keep warm!
1/29/2014 01:05:33 am
Of course you're right, Claudine. Ice is worse than snow, and here in the South they have fewer plows, sanders, etc. than they do in Buffalo (or New York City). But forget ice or snow - have you noticed that even when it rains, there are hundreds of accidents here? Maybe the problem is reckless drivers, not bad weather.
1/28/2014 10:53:55 am
The main talents of the populace in northern VA are panic and overspending. Any forecasts of snow bring apocalyptic shopping sprees of milk, bread, and toilet paper. I think they must spend the entire storm on the toilet with a sandwich. It doesn't help that the media (weather.com is the worst) are so alarmist and hyperbolic with their description of 'snow assaults', etc. It feeds into our culture of fear about something we can't control. But I also love a snow day!
1/29/2014 01:13:54 am
Tammy - that is quite an image! But you made me laugh. I may spend the rest of my snow day trying NOT to picture that. And Kathryn, I couldn't agree more about weather.com. There isn't enough real news to keep all the cable channels busy 24 hours a day, and there certainly isn't enough weather news!
1/29/2014 03:53:39 am
We have a few millimeters of snow and I'm home on my 8th snow day of the year. Had I known the world was about to end - again - I would have brought home some grading. :)
1/28/2014 03:19:27 pm
Ah, so true! Why, when I was a small child walking to and from school every day in northern Wisconsin, the snow piles were taller than the top of my head. We just put on an extra scarf during subzero weather. (Maybe that's why I'm so tired of it now.) ;-)
1/29/2014 01:16:13 am
I have the same recollections of growing up in suburban New York. It seemed as if the White Plains Public Schools were never, ever cancelled, even when we had snow drifts higher than my head and icicles hanging from the gutters.
I was out of the loop because when I went to the grocery store everybody and his mother was there. And then I forgot the EGGS, and had to back today. Everybody was still there.
1/29/2014 01:18:15 am
Which makes you wonder - why listen to the weather forecast at all, if they are wrong so often?
1/29/2014 01:23:24 am
Hah! I love wimpy ! Wimpy is usually safer ! Luckily, everyone in the Uk is wimpy and the whole country grinds to a shivery halt when the flakes start to fall!!
1/30/2014 03:20:33 am
Really? I always thought the UK was the land of Keep Calm and Carry On!
1/30/2014 02:39:42 am
I have to agree with you. Not every storm is going to be the end of the world as we know it. If they would quit using the computer models and go back to good old-fashioned forecasting, maybe they would be right more often, not have to change their forecasts hourly, and actually be able to tell us when a storm will be bad or not - and try to quit dramatizing it! I have gone back to the "look out the window" method - it's more accurate!
1/30/2014 03:23:26 am
Yes indeed. And as we saw in Atlanta, they miss as often as they get it right. Maybe there is logic in hunkering down after all - you can't believe the forecasters, so just assume the worst.
2/2/2014 10:18:32 am
That's pretty funny. I can't quite wrap my mind around someone choosing to live in a place that cold, but I will say this about it: it does make you tough as nails.
Maybe they name snow storms in the south where they are a novelty/reason to panic, but nor here in Canada. We'd run out of names fast. It has been snowing here since last night. I removed a foot and a half from the driveway this morning at 6 am and then another couple of feet around noon. I am sure I will have to shovel again just before dinner. Here the shovel is always at the ready. On the other hand I am sure I would wilt in the heat of your summers. It is all what you are used to.
2/5/2014 09:32:54 am
It's so true. But it's not just in the south that they name storms - there was an article in the Wall Street Journal today about this phenomenon - it seems to be a Weather Channel ploy to get viewers. In any case, I always assumed Canadians would be tougher than Americans when it came to snow - or at least those of us who don't live close to the Canada border.
There's not much good about a crippling snow or ice storm, so you take any positive you find.The positive for me comes with the loss of electricity; that's when silence comes, replacing whirring, humming, dinging of gadgets, appliances. Battery radio replaces television. Candles instead of electric lights. This is what I learned during 12 years in Connecticut. I'm not hoping to repeat those experiences here in Georgia.
2/8/2014 01:21:19 am
A mini storm in the South can be worse than a major storm in the North, I've learned. I guess it's always good to be prepared with candles and batteries. They're predicting more crippling snow - you know, another inch or so - for next week so I guess I should run out for supplies now.
2/18/2014 01:50:28 pm
We also used to long for snow days, and it rarely happened. Now it seems they cancel school all the time for far less than what we endured.
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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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