The Katrina of snow?


If you’re reading this today, congratulations.

It’s not that this is a good story. It’s not that it will help you with your resolution. And it’s not that it’s caramel, sea salt flavored.

It’s just that this story appears today, and you are alive to read it.

See, yesterday was to be the end of the world.

There was a snowstorm of all snowstorms. You might have heard about it.

This news first entered our world a week ago. That’s the first forecast I recall hearing. And I did not stop hearing about it from that point on.

This fact – that the storm was nonstop news this week – was even part of Friday morning news I heard as I started to wake. The guy on TV offered this:

“The storm we’ve been telling you about all week ...”

He said that like it was a good thing.

It was not just this station; it was all of them. It was The Vindy. It was other papers. It was social media.

I was venting aloud on all of this excess and hype, and one co-worker said, “Well, everyone is talking about it.”

To which I said, “Yes – because of us!”

All media is serving this up like President Donald Trump serves up himself.

On Friday, when I typed in “snow” in the search bar, one of Google’s first suggested results was “snow storm Ohio.” Under a special, glaring red banner, the page said:

“Pressure will track through the lower Ohio Valley on Saturday bringing a swath of heavy snow to total snow accumulations of 6 to 9 inches expected.”

Six ... to 9 ... inches. Not feet. Inches.

Six to 9 inches of snow is certainly news. It is a cause for pause and to stay off the roads for one evening.

But to watch us all this week, you would think we’re preparing for Hurricanes Katrina or Maria – or both.

Store shelves were emptied. We bought bread. Lots of it. And milk. And meats.

It was as if we lived in Florida or Georgia and not next to Lake Erie – one of nature’s greatest snow machines.

Part of the problem is our super-size society and it’s dizzying media.

We need big, we need eventful, and we all need to publish thoughts, photos and theories.

It’s why we can no longer celebrate babies just when they’re born. We now need an event to announce the gender with exploding pinks or blues. Then there’s an event for diapers. Then a shower.

The Super Bowl went just fine with Up With People through 1986. Now it needs Bruce Springsteen and Justin Timberlake.

We just can’t have a day of heavy snow that gets spelled out to us two days before. It’s now a snow event with it’s own cliche: Snowmageddon.

I don’t completely fault the poor TV weather folks – the field goal kickers of broadcast news. The few plays they get in are not enough to show dominance, and not enough make comebacks. A big storm is their stage. They want the mic. When the models align so they can be 100 percent right, they’re like Springsteen doing seven encores. It makes up for the times that forecasts clank off the right goal post and fail.

Fails happen. We’ve had them here in our forecasts.

New York City went the most crazy a couple years back. The city got blindsided by one storm, and everyone hated the forecasters. So a year or two later, not to be hated again as a similar system emerged, forecasters went Super Bowl Springsteen. Everyone shut down early. The snowfall barely chased baby strollers from the street. And forecasters got hated again.

These weeklong hype fests infect us all in weird ways besides emptying store shelves.

On Friday, my wife was excused early from a daylong conference. Why? Because of the weather. The streets were dry.

I left work Friday telling folks to drive safely that night – on those same dry roads.

I’m embarrassed I did that as I hail from the land of snow – Buffalo. Growing up in a time of less media and a crazy mayor, when a storm like this struck (every week for 10 months, by the way), we got this infamous mayoral warning one day before the storm:

“Stay inside, grab a six-pack, and watch a good football game. Have a six-pack handy so you can enjoy yourself. Don’t take this too seriously.”

With those words from Mayor Jimmy Griffin, Buffalo never fretted another storm again.

Todd Franko is editor of The Vindicator. He likes emails about stories and our newspaper. Email him at tfranko@vindy.com. Tweet him, too, at @tfranko.

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