(This post is being published simultaneously on Cordelia’s Mom, Still and on Sutter Press because, hey, I need the exposure.)
To Washington, DC/Maryland/Virginia:
My sympathies on the gridlock caused by the inch of snow you received yesterday. I understand that some of you have still not arrived home from work. How scary it must be to know that you will likely be hit by the East Coast Blizzard this weekend.
I have been in your area during an ice storm and understand your concerns. I used to carpool from my apartment in Maryland to my job in DC, and I’ll never forget the day there was half an inch of ice and snow which caused serious traffic issues. DC is not prepared for winter weather – your area has neither the equipment, personnel, nor supplies (like, for instance, salt and sand) to deal with it. On the way home from work that day, our carpool driver simply stopped the vehicle, turned to those of us in the back seat who haled from northern climates, and said, “I’m done. You drive.” Yes, we did get home safely – in fact, we got home faster than most of the other commuters because we simply went around them.
Having lived and worked in the Washington, DC area, and based on my many years of experience with Buffalo, NY winter weather, I have a few words of advice:
♦ If you can stay home during the storm, do so. Those who survived Buffalo’s 8 feet of snow last year would heartily endorse this suggestion. My northern suburb only received about 3 feet of snow during that particular storm, but I can say that most of the traffic problems in the northern suburbs were caused by drivers who simply didn’t know how to drive in snow and ice. There were also those drivers who thought they were experts at winter driving, and in the process of trying to beat out more sedately driven vehicles, went off the road themselves, thereby causing unnecessary traffic problems. Just stay home.
♦ Before the storm hits, make sure your residence is fully stocked with all essentials. The stores will run out of beer, chips, wine, chocolate and ice cream really fast. Go now! And don’t forget the extra toilet paper.
♦ In addition to the essentials listed above, you might want to check your stash of entertainment items. Do you have enough puzzles, games, and DVDs to keep you amused during an extended blizzard? (Note: If you are under 35 and snowed in with your significant other, you may not need any of the foregoing. You might, however, want to spend some of the time figuring out your budget for, say, 9 months or so from the date of the storm.)
♦ If you think there is even the slimmest possibility that you may be forced to go out in the middle of the storm (you know, that great Blizzard Sale at the nearest upscale department store, or the urgent need for that nice, hot Starbucks latte macchiato), take steps to have your vehicle ready ahead of time. Stock it with a snow brush and ice scraper (you can probably order them by Fedex on Amazon – maybe they can use a drone to drop-ship the items to your back yard). You will need a supply of water and food in case you get stuck (again) in that gridlock. Power bars keep well, but personally I prefer Little Debbie snack cakes. Keep these items in your car, not in the trunk – do you really want to trudge through an inch of snow to get to your nutrients? I don’t think so.
♦ Be sure to fill up with gas today. You will need to keep that car running for warmth, music, and so that you can use your SYNC or smart phone to Twitter to all your friends and family about your experiences during the gridlock. Also, take photos! Who knows? You might finally get your 15 minutes of fame.
♦ Charge up your smart phones, laptops, and tablets today. Sometimes power goes out during a storm. Can you stand to be without the internet for any period of time? If you are, in fact, forced to go out (see above), be sure to take a charger with you so you can stay connected (see above).
♦ Hopefully, you have lots of warm blankets, both for your car and for your home. There is something special about snuggling under a quilt while drinking your latte and watching those snowflakes fall gently to the ground outside your window. Understandably, if the window you’re looking through happens to be the windshield, it may seem a little less special.
In closing, let me reassure you that no one here in the northern states is making light of your situation. Snow storms can be hell. Stay home, keep warm, and get a head start on those income taxes. Just don’t try to call the IRS help line – they probably couldn’t get to work, either.
Image by Cordelia’s Mom