Lots of people around the country seemed to take perverse pleasure in the snow and ice storm that paralyzed much of the Pacific Northwest recently. From Boulder to Boston, northern residents that deal with snowstorms on a regular basis chortled at video clips of cars and buses slip-sliding away in western Washington. Perhaps it’s just the Northwesterner in me getting a little defensive, but I’ve never understood why people feel the need to gloat over other people’s inability to cope with weather. At the end of the day we’re all in the same boat.
I’ve lived in the Northwest, the Plains, the South and the Midwest. And guess what? Nobody can handle weather they’re not used to or equipped for. On NPR the other day I heard a former Chicago resident now living in Seattle bragging how his former city dealt with snow and couldn’t understand why everyone was making such a big deal about a little snow. I used to live in Georgia and people there were similarly perplexed when a few days of 100 degree heat killed hundreds of people in Chicago. Likewise, I can remember my amazement shortly after I moved to Michigan and saw a scroll at the bottom of the morning TV news announcing 2-hour school delays for fog. I’d never heard of such a thing. If we had fog delays in Olympia, we’d have started half our school days at 10:30.
On the eve of the recent Northwest snowstorm I saw an interview on the Weather Channel with Seattle’s transportation manager, who said they had 30 snow plows standing by. Custer had better odds. To put things in perspective it would be like the city of Lansing having 6 plows (it has more than 60). Seattle and western Washington are not equipped for snow, nor does it make any financial sense for them to do so. Just like it doesn’t make sense for everyone in the Midwest to have central air or to equip every Michigan school bus with fog lamps. Just remember, when you get ready to gloat over someone else’s weather misfortune, Mother Nature will always have the last laugh.