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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Monday, February 11, 2013

After the storm

A few after-the-fact thoughts (and online images) about the blizzard that walloped much of the Northeast this past weekend:

* It never ceases to amaze me that hordes of people rush to grocery stores when a snowstorm is approaching. Do these folks seriously believe there'll be no milk or eggs available for a week or two because of a weather event that will last less than 24 hours? I've lived in the Northeast my entire life and have endured countless winter storms, and I've rarely seen a grocery shortage that lasts more than a day.

 * Weather forecasting, especially on TV, has gotten completely out of hand. Yes, it's helpful to know when inclement weather is expected. But this 'round-the-clock, scare-the-crap-out-of-people hysteria over winter storms in recent years serves no purpose. Long-term forecasts and constant warnings make sense when a hurricane is on the horizon and people need to, perhaps, board up buildings or pack up for an evacuation. But there's really no preparation that can be made for a snowstorm. (And spare me the BS about needing to know that it's time to buy shovels or salt. If you live in the Northeast and don't already own these things, you need to move.) The only special actions required in a snowstorm are staying indoors and off the roads. And the need for that can be determined by looking out a window moreso than by looking at a TV screen. (All that said, though, it's worth noting the forecasts for this storm were right on the nose.)

* The Weather Channel has looked positively moronic by naming every snowstorm this winter, hoping the monikers, like those of hurricanes, would become part of the national consciousness and conversation. But it looks like Nemo, the name given to the recent blizzard, finally did the trick. It gained traction on Twitter, Facebook and TV, and in newspaper stories, blogs and Internet searches. The confluence of this being a really bad blizzard and having a Disney-ish name that lent itself to countless Facebook memes, funny comments and cute plays on words was, if you'll pardon the pun, the perfect storm. I doubt, though, that that kind of lightning will strike twice. After all, can anyone identify any of the 13 named winter storms that preceded Nemo over the past three months? Yeah, I didn't think so.

* Speaking of identifying storms, it's worth noting that when I was growing up in Rochester in the 1970s, we, too, had a special name for this kind of weather. We called it February.

 * I was nothing short of amazed at how clean Kingston's roads were just a few hours after this storm ended. We get 2 inches of snow on a weekday, and they're a mess. We get close to a foot on a Friday night, and they're virtually clear Saturday morning. I just don't get it.

 * And lastly,I was glad to see that locations hardest hit last fall by Superstorm Sandy — the Jersey shore, Staten Island, lower Manhattan, Queens and western Long Island — were spared from the brunt of this past weekend's storm. (I also didn't mind that Kingston only got about 9 inches of snow. Better than the 3-plus feet that fell in the states to our east!)