snowstorm empathy

The mid-Atlantic region is feeling the full-on effects of the first real nor’easter of the season after what could otherwise be considered a fairly uneventful winter so far. It’s a far cry from last year, or the year before, that’s for sure. So this is anything but a complaint about the snow. As a matter of fact, it’s almost a welcome sight, even if I didn’t necessarily want to experience the whole thing in one weekend…

As the storm began really threatening around mid-week preparations began but by Friday the serious shit began.

There was, of course, the milk-eggs-and-bread run everyone does to the grocery store. Because, you know, perishable items are the first thing I would stock up on in case roads become impassable and the power goes out. /endsarcasm

Real pros are pre-stocked with canned and dried goods, distilled water and candies so they dispense with the cliches and pick up things like cereal. Seriously, there’s nothing like reverting back to your childhood self for a few days with Honey Nut Cheerios (and that powered milk and distilled water you’ve already stockpiled).

Then come the postponements, cancellations and the like.

Followed by the jokes. The Memes. The jackass remarks by politicians like Marco Rubio.

The commentary pours in from the around the country where snow is readily abundant. And they’re even unrelenting from the people where I am now in LoHud and in my former stomping grounds in North Jersey.

In some ways, it is well deserved. After all, despite their relatively effective handling of snow, historically New Haven, New York City, Philly and other regional towns crawled to a standstill in storms, but it’s more the likes of Baltimore and Washington (in that questionable where does the “South” actually begin) that are even still completely paralyzed by even a few snowflakes.

Having lived across the entire region from Maryland to Connecticut I’m constantly in awe of how much a short, in a bit over a 50 mile trip can produce in so many ways – socially and weatherwise in this case specifically.

My experience with the joke making stemmed, in part, from the postponement of several area hockey games. As the blog notates plenty, I’m a Washington Capitals fan and so far they’ve lost two home games to the Blizzard Jonas as it covered the region. According to other hockey fans from wintery wonderlands the 24 to 30″ predicted for the region was nothing for those DC dipshits to deal with. The Islanders were weak for wimping out by not playing their game. Philly were phailures.

Those fans may be right. To them, upwards of two feet really isn’t all that much to where they live.

However, it wasn’t our friends buried in the Great White North of Canada who were mocking it was our fellow ‘Murikanz. Sure, many will say it’s all in good fun. It’s just innocent teasing. And, maybe each one of their individual intentions in solitude is but the continuance of them particularly when combined together is not.

What it is is is ignorance. It’s a lack of knowledge that comes part-and-parcel to the attitude of stupid that’s become so persuasive in so much of society.

Minneapolis, for example, receives annually an average of 54″ a year, over an average of 37 snow days. That’s not quite two plus feet per storm but it’s certainly a lot. Denver gets 53.8″ over 34 days. Boston gets 43″ in 22 days. Detroit 43″ in 36 days. Chicago 36.5″ in 28 days.

DC is 38°54′N and Baltimore is 39°17′N. Comparatively this puts them latitudinally in line more with the likes of San Jose, Columbus and St. Louis in the NHL as well as as thinking internationally places like Lisbon, Portugal; Valencia, Spain and Beijing, China. Not exactly what one might consider snow central.

Due to the fact Minny, the Mile High, Beantown, Hockeytown and the Windy City receive all that snow they are more prepared for it in many ways.

These cities have departments with charters specifically dealing with snow removal as a centerpiece out of necessity. They receive enough snow they have a different level of preparation that wouldn’t make sense for towns that see fractions of the amount. Each of these city departments not only employs full-time personnel, they have the ability to spin up consistent part-time, specialized workforce without much effort or financial loss. Each of these cities owns much of the appropriate equipment for dealing with routine snowfall and again has the ability to quickly bring on line additional, specialized equipment as necessary. Each of these cities has the facilities to stockpile resources such as sand or salt or other disposables as necessary to help control their infrastructure’s passability.

Thus, the labor and equipment and other needs are built into the yearly budgets based upon the known needs for them. The budgets not only cover the averages, but they have well established contingencies included. The cities also have the ability to, in theory, maneuver to deal with the expected.

It would be financially irresponsible for DC or Baltimore to own that equipment or keep those personnel on staff or pre-purchase those kinds of stockpiles of salt and sand. Instead, the cities own what the would expect to need under their normal circumstances. These are put to the test when the normal snowfall for a year of 14 to 16″ is exceeded in a single storm.

Thus, spinning up those types of resources necessary for a single storm that essentially doubles the annual averages isn’t necessarily easy either in these kinds of situations. Any regional jurisdiction facing just a jump this big is not going to be able to call upon their neighbors here in the close quarters of the east coast. DC can’t ask Baltimore because chances they are over-extended and understaffed too. Baltimore can’t ask Philly and SEPA or anywhere in Delaware for the same reason. Philly can’t ask NEPA or New Jersey. NJ can’t ask NYC or LoHud. And so on. It’s like a reverse cascade of if it’s bad for one it’s likely bad for all and there’s no extra capacity to be tapped.

Furthermore, due to the low likelihood of such an event the general populous is also unexperienced and thus unprepared. It isn’t as if the average driver gets a lot of practice driving on snow if less than 15 days a year average include snow and even of those days it’s not nearly the same to drive on a slightly snowy road compared to the skill set necessary to get through a blizzard that only occurs a few times a decade. And, let’s not forget a learned skill unused is a lost skill – just think back to how many Algebra problems you likely slaved over you in high school that years later you might struggle to solve specifically due to the lack of practice.

My point here being the lack of empathy is palpitating.

And a lack of empathy.



About thedoormouse

I am I. That’s all that i am. my little mousehole in cyberspace of fiction, recipes, sacrasm, op-ed on music, sports, and other notations both grand and tiny:
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