Posts Tagged October 2011 snowstorm

Canceling the snowpocalypse

Mailbox in Worcester, Massachusetts.What would Marshall Stacker Pentecost–Idris Elba’s oft-quoted character from Pacific Rim–say if he encountered not a giant monster from another dimension, but heavy snowfall?

New Englanders are supposed to dismiss each snowstorm as “just a dusting,” then go back to swigging Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and counting the minutes until opening day at Fenway.

That’s not the case though. With the snow piling on, many people are getting anxious, and the media would have you believe that the world is coming to an end. The Puritans wouldn’t be impressed.

Perhaps it has to do with the many ways we are now warned of impending precipitation.

Every time it snows, I get a weather alert on my phone, watch meteorologists discuss it with a perverse mix of dread and joy on television, and read about the aftermath in my local paper.

This might be a case of too much information. The constant bombardment of warnings may be making people more anxious than they were in the old days, when even school closings weren’t always properly broadcast.

Of course, one thing has changed in the intervening decades: the planet’s temperature.

Ask someone to trade in their car or washing machine for a more-efficient model, and all they’ll see is dollar signs. Ask them to look out their window in February, and all they’ll see is global warming.

This part of the country had a mild winter last year, which makes this one seem worse than it might actually be. Without crunching the numbers, I can say that past winters have left the landscape looking very much like it does now.

So while it’s good that people are starting to acknowledge global warming, it can also become another source of meteorological anxiety.

An easy remedy would be to just stop getting anxious about the weather. After all, things could be a lot worse. Remember the snowstorm that knocked out the region’s infrastructure in October 2011? Remember that there’s a place called Buffalo?

People may not be able to let go of it that easily, though. There may be a mass-execution of weathermen instead.

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Sometimes, whining is the only answer

For the second time in two months, I’ve been displaced. First, it was Hurricane Irene, now, it’s the historic/legendary/unprecedented “October Storm.” The house has no electricity or running water, and all the local hotels are booked, so I bugged out to a relative’s place upstate.

I’d like to say that things could be worse, because that’s true. But that sort of belittles people who have been inconvenienced by this storm and, quite frankly, I’m having a hard time looking on the bright side of this situation. NYSEG claims 90% of customers will get their power back by Wednesday, but their neighbors at Connecticut Light & Power say it will take at least a week more. This was a big storm, but how long does it take to clear some downed trees and put wires back up?

Some might say that I’m whining; other people are worse off and maybe I don’t appreciate the hard work line crews are doing to restore power. Perhaps I am whining, but that seems to be the only way to get anything done. During Irene, I waited days for CL&P to remove the downed tree near my house; they claimed they were overwhelmed by the unprecedented amount of damage caused by the storm. Eventually, I got fed up and wrote the governor an e-mail. It turned out that CL&P was understaffed and was refusing to let their crews work overtime; they’re now under investigation and my e-mail is part of the record.

This time, it sounds like the same story. When people attach terms like “historic” or “unprecedented” to this storm, they just give power companies an excuse to drag their feet. History is all about the past, so let’s focus on fixing the damage and getting on with our lives before we decide what this storm’s place in history will be.

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