The car is buried. The front steps are stacked with a billion snowflakes. We are stocked up with food and drink and ready to party, alone in our tomb...er, perhaps I mean womb. My thoughts drift to the courageous men and women who predicted all this. Until a few hours ago, a few doubts remained whether the blizzard would match expectations.
Being a TV weatherman, meteorologist, or both, must be among the most celebrated--and vilified--occupations in America. Who do we blame when scientists miscalculate and the forecast begins to look just a little bit shaky?
"Time to clear the front steps. I guess they had the prediction right for once," my partner Pope exclaimed as he glanced out the window at 4:27 pm. That's the kind of attitude that gets weather announcers in trouble!
In Washington, doubts or not, we prepared for the worst. Earlier today, as I traversed the heavily congested aisles of Safeway, I was bemused by the fact that certain shelves were emptier than others. Snack foods and hot dogs--well, that's to be expected. Soft drinks--wiped out. (Too bad, from a nutritional standpoint.) Pet food--good to know people are watching out for their four-footed friends.
Bottled water--the emptiness evoked visions of 2010's Snowmageddon. But no, to differentiate that blizzard from the impending 2016 experience, we've expanded our lexicon to predict Snowzilla (according to today's Washington Post). Which will prove to be worse?
Plenty of chicken, potatoes, and oranges still to go around. You know, the more nutritious stuff. Requires cleaning, peeling, and cooking.
At Yes! organic market on 8th Street, hundreds of crates of canned beans and tomatoes were delivered during the last two days. Firewood and bags of rock salt were stacked six feet high on the sidewalk. By 12:30 pm today, the line to purchase organic produce and wine wound twice around the aisles of the tiny store.
At 1 pm (the forecasted storm "launch" time), I frowned and tightened my grip on my bag of yogurt, grapefruit, and multi-grain bread as I anxiously scanned the sky. Not a single flake visible in the atmosphere. No blizzard to whiten my outlook. All this worry and standing in lines for ... a false alarm? Could the gods be laughing at the poor, prosecuted forecasters in Washington, DC?
Then, at precisely 1:03 pm (according to the precision digital network of cell phone technology), a single snowflake drifted from the low-hanging clouds, meandering past my eager eyes on its way to the red brick sidewalk. Boom! It landed and stuck. At 1:07 pm, its sisters, brothers, and cousins launched an all-out rush to get to the party.
By the time Pope ventured out three and a half hours later to retrieve the shovel from under the front steps, an extended family of snowflakes had converged on our sidewalk: 8 branches, distant aunts and uncles, and casual acquaintances from far-flung locations. The party had indeed begun, and it looked like it could get crowded.
This time, you won the gamble.