December 08, 2003

Jump-Starting Winter

Were You Ready for This?

You may have had the car winterized and your snow boots waterproofed and a new snowblower or snow shovel waiting in the garage or the basement, but the question still obtains: Were you ready for this? By midday yesterday, a map of the storm that buried the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic states over the weekend setting snowfall records along the way showed a blob of precipitation that reached from mid-Illinois to the Atlantic shoreline. Much of New England won't be free of the storm till sometime today. In the wake of the snowfall itself came strong winds that abruptly resculpted the landscape, undoing in an hour or two all the hard work of snow clearing that many people undertook too early. On Saturday night the winds sounded like snowplows on the highway, but they were plowing us in, not out.

The particular cruelty of this blizzard is that it seemed to blow us all the way back to the middle of last winter, a winter that most of us have been trying hard to forget. Any hope that we had somehow earned a respite after last winter was, of course, a sentimental fantasy, as if the weather, an impersonal force if ever there was one, knew something about fair play. Any hope that we could ease into the season, which is still officially nearly two weeks away, now lies under two feet of snow in some parts of the region. "Here we go," you could hear people saying, as though they were putting their heads down and trying to push a snow-stranded car out of the ditch. What they meant was something like, "Now we're in for it," or "Greetings, Mighty Winter please spare us your wrath."

In fact there was no going anywhere on Saturday and early Sunday. More than a few people, schoolkids especially, found themselves wondering why the storm couldn't have brought its force to bear on a weekday, instead of a weekend. The real satisfaction in a sudden deluge of snow is having an unexpected holiday: a chance just to watch the weather reveal itself. For people who do their own plowing or shoveling or their own shopping and driving and walking the storm really added up to a lot of extra work.

The beauty of weather like time itself is that we have no idea what lies in store for us. This could be a one-shot winter, a pummeling storm followed by unexpected mildness. Or it could turn out to be the kind of winter when you can skate on the Hudson. Speculation is idle, but that's what makes it so entertaining.

The intensity of this storm has no predictive force. It contains no augury of things to come, except hours of snow removal. The hard part is knowing that whatever this season brings mild or bitter the region will probably finish digging out from under this Northeaster just in time for the start of winter proper.

Posted by JenniferCilia at December 8, 2003 10:17 AM
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