Snowmaggedon? Please.

Why do Philadelphians prepare for eight inches of snow like they'll be trapped for days?

I feel like all I’ve heard on the news this winter and last are nonstop reports of upcoming possible snowstorms that have been built up to sound apocalyptic only to result in relatively minor events. Welcome to winter in the Northeast. It snows sometimes. Big news.

I have to wonder how these networks would fill their half hour if there weren’t the possibility of snow a week from Thursday. They manage to use about eight minutes per broadcast, per day, a week prior to the possibility of a flake falling from the sky. Would the news end early? Would they have to dispatch people to actually locate news? In the summer they devote the time designated for possible snow to possible heat waves. I wonder if they need seasonal employees to find more news in spring and fall when they can’t come up with anything better than rain. People don’t often die from rain, and there aren’t enough potential floods here to kill those eight minutes a day.

It’s not just the media that has a snow fixation either. One friend deems herself a “snowaphobe” and is afraid to drive in it. I overheard someone telling a store clerk last week that she’s terrified to drive in snow, and the clerk agreed wholeheartedly. Correct me if I’m wrong, but living in the Northeastern United States means that snow will be a fact of life. How do you spend four months a year afraid to drive should flakes fall? If the temperatures dip into the 30s annually, you should probably learn how to steer into the skid. Just saying…

[SIGNUP]My daughter hasn’t had outdoor recess since school resumed after the New Year. If anything white can be spotted on the school grounds, then there is no recess. If the temperatures reach freezing, there is no recess. Theoretically they could be indoors until Easter. Instead of making them dress appropriately for cold and letting them have fresh air—in the Northeast, where we live and winter happens every year—they are kept indoors where it’s safe. That way nobody can sue the school district because his or her child slipped on snow, which the parents are afraid to drive in, so surely it can’t be safe to walk on. God forbid the kids find out it’s actually fun.

In spite of the last impending snowstorm, I still took my daughter to her dance class, with flakes falling. I hadn’t done my weekly grocery run and was out of a few things, so I thought I’d swing by the store on the way home. The store was empty of people, of course, because anyone who had seen a newscast in the last week was terrified of the “weather bomb” that was coming, but the store was also empty of food. Most of the shelves were bare and it looked like there’d been a run on the place. It wasn’t just milk and bread and staples that were gone. The entire frozen pizza section was empty. There was no low-fat ricotta cheese. No partly skimmed mozzarella or whole-wheat pizza dough. No Cheerios either. The whole store was cleaned out. Not for a major holiday or a long weekend, but for a possible maximum eight inches of snow.

I used to live in a place that had hurricanes. I’m also from Canada and my childhood included frequent snow up to the rooftops—which was not enough to merit a snow day either. Believe me, I know bad weather. My snowaphobe friend texted me two days before this last possible storm to tell me the grocery store was jammed with people buying as though they’d forecasted a nuclear attack. I have no idea which news station these people were watching, but I was pretty sure we weren’t about to be snowed in for weeks. This is what you should do when you know a hurricane is about to hit and the grocery stores might be wiped out and the roads impassible. You buy lots of water and batteries and canned food to sustain you. I don’t understand stocking up on everything in the grocery store for a possible eight inches of snow. Acme will be open the next day. You will still have to go to work. The township has snowplows.

The good news is that the grocery stores should be nice and quiet for the next couple of weeks because everyone has enough frozen pizza to last until February. When we’ll no doubt get more snow. And we’ll likely get to hear all about it on tonight’s newscast. When they’re done relaying the horror stories of the last snow, that is.