Saturday, December 22, 2007

Snow: When To Pay Attention

This past thursday the folks I work with and I went out for lunch. We went to Emilio's, a local place in the South End of Boston, about four blocks from our office. We had a window table and, while eating, watched close to three inches of snow fall.

We all talked while we ate, but none of the conversation had anything to do with the snow outside. There was already well over fifteen inches of snow that had fallen the previous week, this being the third snow in the past ten days or so. We all pretty much ignored this most recent snow.

I casually remarked that in Baltimore, this three inch snowfall would close schools and shut down most businesses for the day. My co-workers, all long time New Englanders, looked at me incredulously. One of them said: "People would freak out about this? It's not even worth paying attention to!"

When I moved up here in February 2005, it was in between snowstorms. That winter, following the Red Sox' reversing the curse and winning the world series for the first time in 86 years, there was 88 inches of snow. I remember walking past snow piled up that was over my head and thinking in amazement - "man, look at all this snow!" Not knowing anyone yet, I figured all that snow was a freak of nature; even Baltimore got hit with about 18 inches in February 2005. Later on, reading the local newspapers, I came to learn that the average annual snowfall in eastern Massachusetts, which is where I live, was about 44 inches.

The winter of '04-'05 achieved twice the average snowfall, but what rankled most folks was just the continually having to shovel; it was getting old for them by the end of March. And, what was even more amazing to me was that their reference for measuring snow storms wasn't this one, but the big blizzard of 1978.

In talking to people up here in the Boston area about snow, I came to understand that folks don't start paying attention to snow until they hear that a single snowfall is going to amount to more than six inches. People don't even put boots on for three inches of snow.

A single accumulation of snow of less than a half-foot isn't even considered a snow storm and, therefore, not worth paying attention to.

Almost two weeks ago, when it snowed 10 inches in one day and Boston freaked out, there were derisive comments abounding. Boston Globe bloggers had headlines that questioned whether Bostonians had gone soft. That day, businesses and government were encouraged to close early so they did, all at once and at 1 p.m. There was a massive traffic jam. It took me 45 minutes to drive what normally took 5, and I wasn't even in Boston that day.

The other day while walking Dixie I was thinking that a snow blower up here is a necessity, not a luxury for people too soft to shovel. I was thinking that if I was a homeowner, or had rented a house, I'd already have a snow blower. The green kind to get now are electric ones. A woman I know calls hers Lady Remington.

Since I've moved up here I put an emergency first aid kit, two fleece blankets and a giant snow shovel in the trunk of my car. The shovel goes in by Thanksgiving and doesn't come out until close to the end of April. And, you know by then, it's already baseball season.

Up here, baseball season is something to pay attention to. Snow is just something to get through until then.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Frank,
With you in Boston, we don't have to panic about 3 inches of snow anymore. We can drive safely now.

4:44 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home