- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 5, 2002

Uh-oh. The meteorologists are clearing their throats while checking their weather maps, hoping to be right with the first snowfall of the season.
The region is expected to receive 4 to 8 inches of the white stuff, not counting Cumberland, Md., the unofficial snow capital in the area.
Cumberland seemingly becomes a suburb of Washington in the winter, mostly because there is always snow on the ground in Cumberland, and if there is snow on the ground in Cumberland, that means there could be snow on the ground in Hagerstown. Hagerstown is just northwest of Frederick, which is just northwest of Gaithersburg, and darn, that is too close for comfort.
So here we go again. You know the drill: bread, milk, toilet paper and hysteria.
We are just 1 inch of snow away from food drops by helicopter.
Remember to place a couple of red flares in your driveway. Have your first-aid kit ready. Drink plenty of fluids and try to be brave around Mother Nature. How is your refrigerator? Is it well stocked? And canned goods? You can't have too many canned goods as you hunker down for the long winter.
Here's the thing: No one in the area knows how to drive in the stuff. You know this from all those who say that no one knows how to drive in the stuff, except the person revealing the insight. We don't know how to drive in the stuff, we don't know how to walk in the stuff and we certainly don't know how to be at one in the stuff.
Here's another thing: Home Depot is out of shovels. Wouldn't you know it? Home Depot is always out of shovels at this time of the year. You know this from the I-team reporters who descend on Home Depot en masse. The store has no shovels, no bags of salt and no ice scrapers. However, if you are interested, Home Depot has plenty of lawn mowers on sale.
Don't look now, but there is an enterprising newshound standing in the cold air at a remote location, microphone in hand, looking to the sky to see if it is snowing or not snowing. This is usually an interesting position for the person standing in the middle of nowhere, doing his or her best not to look and sound stupid. It undoubtedly beats standing in the middle of a hurricane, one of television's favorite shots. Television news directors love to stick a reporter in the middle of a hurricane, in a raincoat, who is clinging to a lamp post against the wind and rain. How is it there? It is bad. Now back to the storm desk.
Super-duper Doppler radar has been tracking this latest event since last summer. In the weather business, you are nothing if you don't have Doppler radar. Some people just look out their windows to see what is up. The pros, however, gaze into the eyes of Doppler radar and ask if it would like to go out to the movies with them.
Is it cold enough for you yet?
As usual, if it is snowing, the roads are treacherous. The roads are never adventurous or challenging. They are treacherous, just treacherous.
Please, unless there is an emergency, stay indoors until the first thaw in the spring. Curl up in the fetal position and keep your television tuned to where it is for all your weather needs. We can get through this ordeal if we pull together and keep our wits.
If you must go outside, dress appropriately. This is an important warning from the experts because, apparently, some people go out in bathing suits, not realizing that exposed skin rebels against arcticlike air.
By the way, have all the superintendents called off school until further notice? You know what they say in the superintendent's office. Shut the learning centers down. Call it a month. Call it a year.
Nothing arouses fear in a superintendent like a one-flake blizzard. They see the sky spit in the wee hours of the morning and break out in a cold sweat. Why stay tuned for school closings? All the schools are closed.
Alas, one of the great mysteries of a Washington winter is the snow/rain line. Sometimes the line is 20 miles north of Washington. Sometimes it is 20 miles south of Washington. Sometimes it bounces all over the place. Many of the snow forecasts in the past have ended up being victims of this ever-magical line.
Well, this time, they are telling us we are in for it. Let's try to be strong.


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