Wednesday, February 23, 2011
In the Pacific Northwest, we've been enjoying a fairly mild winter - unlike most of the country. Not only is our snowpack (and consequently our summer water supply) suffering, but so is our sense of proportion. While a large chunk of America heaves a sigh and shovels the latest blizzard from their walk, many Northwesterners succumb to panic-induced heart attacks at the mere whisper of snow.
This commercial, by a local insurance outfit, pretty much nails it. (You may have to rotate through the other ads to get there... It's worth listening to the radio spot, as well - always makes me chuckle.)
Now, in our defense, our snow is not like the snow in much of the nation. People from out of the area usually confirm it. We have a lot of hills, for one thing, and our snow is almost invariably accompanied by some very nasty ice.
It still can get ridiculous, and this is coming from someone who has lived here her entire life.
Last week, some distant rumbles on the more obscure news sources hinted at the worst. By Monday, the meteorologists on every local news station had flooded the airwaves with fear. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would likely not rate as dire a warning as that issued from the news desks across the region.
Snow. Crystallized rain. The horror to end all horrors.
Who cares if there was a devastating earthquake in New Zealand? Why would a newscast waste precious airtime on a incidental fluff piece like the Libyan riots? No, the majority of every evening show this week has been the snow. Field reporters who drew the short straws in the studio were deployed to strategic locations, charged with filling airtime as their on-the-spot reports showed graphic, live images of nothing. ("A short while ago, this street was covered in snow." "It may look bare now, but in a few hours..." "Trust me, I'm not just wasting your time and our money - I'll find something to yammer about as I wander around by the side of the road if it kills me!")
As the above photograph indicates, snow did eventually fall. It's still falling, in fits and starts. The thermometer's also plunging, to the point where it won't creep above freezing on Friday (if the gloom-and-doom weather reports are any indication.) With the snow and ice making for a risky commute, I won't know if I'm working tomorrow until I call in.
As much as this snowstorm has turned the Greater Puget Sound region on its head in the middle of a workweek, derailing dreams of an early spring, I can't help but feel the eyes of the nation as a whole upon us, peering through narrow slits between hats and scarves, peeking over debris piles from storms the likes of which we, in our sheltered corner of the country, can only imagine... glaring.