It snowed in Columbus yesterday. For days we saw forecasts of 4-8 inches of snow. When I cleaned my walks after the snow, we had maybe an inch on the walk, two inches on the grass. Not a big deal, which made me reflect on the snow insanity that grips our city in comparison with other cities I’ve lived in.
I grew up in northeast Ohio and lived for nine years on the east side of Cleveland in the snowbelt. Our first year there we had 100 inches of snow at the airport (which is not in the snowbelt) which means we probably had 200 inches. Whenever it snowed, it seemed like we had at least six inches. And this happened a good deal. Life just went on. At a foot, life slowed down. Once, we had at least eight inches of snow but a final exam I had to take while working on a Masters at a downtown university was not cancelled–I studied, dug out, drove downtown, took the exam, drove back in the snow, and shoveled some more! There was a T-shirt being sold at that time showing the Cleveland skyline buried in snow with the caption: Cleveland–You’ve Got to Be Tough!
I think the T-shirt for Columbus would show two snowflakes over the city skyline and have the caption: Winter Storm: Be Afraid–Be Very Afraid! Here are some of the things people do in Columbus when snow is forecast or is falling:
1. Go on a grocery shopping frenzy. The night before the storm the Kroger’s near us was packed–even the outlots were full. You would think people were stocking up for the blizzard of ’78! [That was a real snow storm!]
2. Watch every weather forecast, check the Weather Channel and get really scared, because the forecasts always seem so drastic. It makes for good ratings, though!
3. Clean out the local hardware of shovels, salt and snow-blowers.
4. Cancel school, sometimes before there is any snow on the ground. Yesterday, a number of schools did this and at 3 pm the snow was barely sticking to streets and sidewalks.
5. Related to this, if you live in Columbus and have kids, you make a morning ritual of checking out school closings. Even if you think “aw, this is nothing” the schools might not. Once, went to drop my son off at school when it had snowed an inch and realized NO ONE was around and that school was cancelled. That’s when the ritual began.
6. Columbus drivers in snow do one of two things: either drive at posted speeds and leave no room between them and the driver in front of them or they creep along at a crawl. Most of us who grew up in snowy areas aren’t afraid to drive in the snow, but we live in terror of natives who haven’t a clue what they are doing!
7. On a related note, Columbus newscasts always run stories on the “snow warriors”–all the snow plows out to keep our streets clear. Freeways maybe, surface streets not so much, neighborhoods, almost never. Columbus residents always complain about snow removal, but it never affects an election unlike snow-belt communities.
8. When it snows, kids run out and build a snowman–you never know when you will get another chance! Often the result of this is a snowman in the midst of a green lawn because you used all the snow to build it!
9. If you are a student at Ohio State and it is the week of the Michigan game, you jump into Mirror Lake. Even if the temps are below freezing and snow is flying. Even with 10,000 other inebriated students.
10. You borrow, rent, or cue up online enough movies to last you a month.
What do you do when Snowmageddon threatens your community?