The Blizzard That Wasn’t, AKA Snowmageddon, Tsnow-nami, Precipi-flation, yadda yadda was a revelatory experience. Pun intended. The pre-storm media barrage was intense, with newscasters and weather-people acting like something out of the Book of Revelations.
And the Four Horsemen shall be named “Snow”, “Sleet”, “High Winds” and “Cold Temperatures”.
Of course, we are all glued to our laptops, pads or smart phones, eating this stuff up. We tell ourselves that we do it to be prepared, as if we lived on an isolated outpost somewhere and that without additional bread, milk, toilet paper and AA batteries we could find ourselves in dire strights. In fact, we live in suburbia, within easy reach of police with SUVs, EMS, public works departments armed to the teeth with plows and salt.
Why? I’m guessing one reason we do it is the same reason we watch spooky movies. We can get the thrill while at the same time knowing we are actually pretty safe. Yes, people die in severe weather, but most of us don’t. The most we suffer is inconvenience. And in the post-Sandy era, many of us don’t even have that. We went out, bought generators, wireless routers, wood stoves or inserts in our fireplaces, in effect creating a belt and suspenders approach to our lives.
Also, in the more affluent (read “mostly Republican”) areas of the region you can add on a growing distrust of the ability of government and its regulated utilities to provide us with the basic necessities. After all, what better than to have actual circumstances reinforce your worldview. See, I told you so!
(Odd this, because even during the Sandy aftermath our town still had public water, sewer and gas service. People were deprived of electricity and landline phone, as well as — in some cases — heat. Inconvenient, yes. A safety concern with small children or the elderly? Yes. But otherwise…)
With a well-connected, media savvy and demanding populace (thank you very much, Capitalism!) expectations are always high. Therefore, it has become part of the job of government to manage those expectations. With a possible 2' of snow on the way there is no way government is going to perform in such a way that no one is going to complain. Therefore, perhaps you hype the storm in such a way that when we get 6", everyone breathes a sigh of relief.
Blizzard becomes Schmizzard and joins the gallery of exhausted memes alongside Ebola and Charlie Hebdo. But don’t worry, Winter has a long way to go.