Thursday, December 13, 2007

Storm's A Comin

We're gearing up for a big snow storm here in the New York Metro area. At least that's what the news organizations here want you to believe so you tune in to their station for constant weather updates.

The media onslaught about the pending storm began last night, under a clear sky with the stars shining. Weather anchors and radio stations all had the top story as the storm that will be, rather than the storm that is.

They're projecting 3 to 5 inches of snow, with rain and sleet right after, and then another "wallop" (Weather Anchor terminology) from a "Nor'Easter" that's headed in for the weekend.

I am concerned. My wife is pregnant and due any day, so any storm that comes in now needs to factor into the plans on getting to the hospital on the big day. But 3 to 5 inches certainly isn't the worst I've seen. Not even close. In Syracuse, they measure this stuff in feet, not inches.

And so I began reminiscing... about snow and its pitfalls.

The biggest storm I remember might also be the first real significant snowfall I ever witnessed. It was 1991, and we had just moved to Illinois from Indiana. We lived outside a small rural town called Marseilles, and our house was in a subdivision surrounded by farmland just off Interstate 80.

We might have only been in the house several weeks when the snow storm came in. And it kept coming. When we woke up in the morning sometime in February, we tuned in the radio to learn that school was cancelled because there was at least a foot of snow, and that's not counting the snow drifts.

When my Dad went to the garage to head to work early in the morning, snow drifts had completely blocked the garage door, and were at least six feet high.

We started shoveling the driveway, and as I remember, it lasted an eternity. But the challenge wasn't just getting my dad and the car out of the driveway. As he headed out on the road that leaves the subdivision, he got stuck in snow drifts several times and we had to bail him out. I believe it was almost six hours after he first opened the garage door that we were finally on the road. At this point I say "we" because I was drafted to accompany my Dad, ostensibly to give me something to do on my day off, more to the point, however, I was cheap and ready labor to shovel the car out if it got stuck again.

My Dad worked as a manager at a lumber yard, and by the time we got to work, his buildings were in a precarious state. The sun had come out, and was starting to melt the snow. Only the snow was feet deep on top of tin corrugated roofing sheds, and when the light fluffy stuff started to become heavy as it melted, portions of the roof collapsed. I remember walking in to the store and the ceiling had caved in right in my Dad's office. Other notable events to remember was my Dad shoveling the snow off of the rest of the roof with other workers to spare the rest of the complex the same fate as my Dad's office.

We had several days off of school for that storm. It was a doozie. There was no way anyone was going anywhere for a while until the drifts were cleared and the weather relented.

But I don't remember such a buildup before the storm, either on the news or by the people around me. It happened. It was massive, and people just dealt with it when it came.

And that's about all you can do with a snow storm. Deal with it when it comes.

I know it's good to be prepared, but today as I took the train in to work, I couldn't help but notice the emptiness of the car. Same thing on my walk to work... streets of Lower Manhattan a bit lonelier.

As I got to work, there have been a number of e-mails detailing that quite a few people are on sick leave.

It seems the storm came a little early today, even before the snow fell. Or it's all just a coincidence.

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