sunnudagur, febrúar 12, 2006

weather happens

Now that I've waxed all glorious about the crafty arts of Boston driving, it's time to talk about one of the downsides of living in Boston: the crazed way people handle the weather.

Sometimes I listen to WBUR, a fine Boston news station, while I am working. And for the last 4 or 5 days the station has been talking about a weekend snowstorm, due tomorrow. And this Five Days of Worry is coming from a fairly balanced and un-cuckoo news organization. Which I know means that the workingman's Boston media has been talking snowstorm/blizzard/moving-up-the-coast/meteorologist-Bruce-Schweigler nonstop for the better part of those five days. Other news always takes a backseat to any kind of storm-talk. The storm becomes the Thing.

I don't know why. Here you have a city that gets a sizable snowstorm at least once a year, and sometimes even weekly. They have the trucks, the plows, the sanders, the piles of road salt at the ready. They've seen it before. The work crews are burly men with experience and New England pride, and they do a good job. Unlike in Iceland, snowstorms in Boston get cleaned up even as they happen.

So why is it that every Bostonian (and their "nannah") feels the need to go out and shell out a couple hundred bucks on storm provisions? The day before a storm is due, the supermarkets resemble Tunisian bazaars minus the sunshine. The parking lots are jammed with cars, the aisles jammed with carts, the people's heads jammed with storm worries and worst case scenarios, their bodies jostling for position in interminable checkout lines.

Here in Iceland, sure, we have weather. But weather just happens. One day, you wake up, it's rainy and blowing 60 mph? Hey, get in the car and go to work. The next day, a foot of snow on the ground? Hey, get in the car and go to work. Giant salt sprays blowing hundreds of feet in from the sea wall freezing and covering the roadway with thick black ice? Keep driving, buddy. I'll see a 6-year-old walking himself to school on a pitch black winter morning on an ice-covered sidewalk with unkempt piles of snow on all sides of him. Crossing guards? Nah. Delayed openings? Nah. The kids get to school. Nobody panics or freaks out or spends hours glued to the TV StormCenter. Weather here is always interesting, but it's what happens, and we have no choice but to just roll with it.


Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

The local Star Market was jammed with folk this afternoon, no doubt wondering if IT could be anything like The Blizzard of '78, that uberstorm that has inflated in people's memory beyond anything even possible. And tomorrow I am on standby to "cover" the "story" of the storm, perhaps even live. And it isn't for the local news, neither. This one has national interest. Every year there's one that gets covered nationally and every year they want to see someone digging out of a snowbank.

We should head over to Southie and shoot someone saving a parking spot with a broken TV. (If the parking enforcement people take the TV, you lose your spot but you didn't have to pay to get rid of the TV. If they leave it, you keep your spot. Only people in Southie would come up with a plan so utterly diabolical.)

But maybe the storm coverage for NBC is just an attempt to show the country that all is well with the weather. "Yep, those people you can't understand from the northeast are still digging their '88 Impalas out of impossible snowbanks..." Perhaps it's just a way to placate our guilt over how we've changed the weather. This has been the warmest winter of the 30 or so I've seen, and 2005 average temperatures in the US were something like 8 degrees above where they should be.

Since Heat is so loved on this blog, I'll leave you with: "It rains, you get wet."


Anonymous SB said...

When I came to the states 8 years ago, and we had a snowstorm. My eyes would fling open and say when....they'd say this is it! And I'd reply, but this is just a few flurries!
Ones perception of snowstorm is relative to where one comes from.
I tend to chuckle and think to myself...huh huh those Americans...(Beavis&Butthead chuckle) when ever they mention a snow storm

So a few years back my aunt who lived up north was going out to the supermarket. They had about 10 feet of snow! She starts climbing through the snow banks and had only gotten about 100 yards, when she decided there was too much snow. She got stuck :D

Her solution...she just waited for a while, knowing her husband would begin to worry about her within the hour. And law and behold, as she didn't return home....he began looking for her and calling out to her. He found her and dug her out.
Happy ending to a few flurries :D
She said the snowbanks were as high as the baskets at the basketball court.

I wonder how many words the Inuits of Greenland have for snow? How many words for snow are in the Kalaallisut language?

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

The Inuit language have just as many words for snow as English does.

Anonymous Nafnlaus said...

As a transplanted Canadian living in Boston, I chuckled over your accurate description of pre-storm frenzy, but it is fun and rather dramatic - which is *just* what Americans live for, right?


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