Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow All About Perspective


For some people here in the Philadelphia area and across the northeastern United States it's panic time for the third time this winter, the 2nd time in five days.

For others it's a time of excitement and anticipation. Fact is that snowfalls, even large ones, in these modern days are really all just about perspective.

Are you one of those people who reflexively have to run out to the grocery store when a large snowfall is predicted?

I stopped out at my local Acme supermarket last Friday evening just before the most recent two footer was supposed to hit. I just wanted to have a couple of 'comfort' treats in the house. By the look on the bread shelves you would have thought it was the end of the world.

The crowds bum-rushed the supermarkets and the neighborhood groceries, stripped the shelves bare of all milk, bread, eggs, and cigarettes, and then retreated to the comfort and safety of their homes where they battened down the hatches and prepared to ride out the inevitable burial inside their homes that was being forecast.

Overnight on Friday the snow began to fall, and then all through the morning and early afternoon on Saturday the storm intensified, just as predicted. The weathercasters got this one right on, and by the end we had received more than two feet for the 2nd time this winter.

But a funny thing happened by Sunday morning or afternoon at the latest. People were out already driving in their cars. Most major roads and primary routes were clear. Stores were open and shelves had food on them. The snow fell, it squashed activity for awhile, but the world recovered quickly and the end never came for most.

Meanwhile, back during the hours that the snow was falling during the day, the picture of the world that most got was from inside their homes, and it was a pretty picture indeed. The snow was beautiful as it fell, laid, built-up, and buried. It provided a perfect excuse for couch potato television watching and napping.

The simple fact is that large snowfalls just ain't what they used to be 'back in the day' when such events really did cripple an area.
Most municipalities have strong plowing and road treatment equipment, supplies, and planning in place. And have you noticed the vastly increased numbers of smaller vehicles with their own little plows on them in recent years?

The recovery systems of every major and medium-sized municipality and even many rural areas have advanced to the point where almost no one gets snowed into their homes for days without access to basic food stuffs and other vital supplies. People are out digging and plowing, and we get back to business. That's me in the picture accompanying this story, digging out after the first storm this season back in December.

Now Philadelphia is bracing for it's 2nd major winter storm in five days. Beginning overnight tonight and then continuing through tomorrow, this storm is predicted to be less intense than the pair of two-footers that have already hit us this winter. But it will leave between a foot and 18 inches, depending on a number of variables that are still changing.

The area still has large amounts of snow, slush, and ice on the ground from the weekend storm because temperatures just haven't gone up enough to get rid of much. So this storm is going to dump it's load on top of what we already have on the ground and in large piles on the sides of roads and properties. If it dumps a little over 9 inches, as expected, this will officially be the snowiest winter in recording history in this region.

The combination of the exact timing of the storm and the mess still around from the previous one is causing the Philadelphia area to shut down already. The city has already announced that all of it's offices are closed on Wednesday. Schools, courts, museums, the zoo, and many private businesses are also closing. SEPTA and AMTRAK will try to run through the storm, but there will be delays and at least in SEPTA's case, there are likely to be shutdowns.

So for the second time in a period of days it's time to get that milk, break, eggs, and cigarettes order into the house and prepare to hibernate. When we wake up on Wednesday morning and look out the windows it will be yet another winter wonderland. Smile and keep a sunny perspective, it ain't the end of the world. The next day will be Thursday, and everything will open up once again and begin to return to normal. It's all about perspective.

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