I should have been at work today, but the Snownado curtailed that.
(Credit for the moniker “Snownado,” by the way, belongs solely to Neal Bennett, head of Green Broad Ripple. Thanks for letting me use it.)
I had been out for five days and celebrated Christmas with the strand of my family who is out in DC. I just flew in last night ahead of the much-hyped storm, and I was actually eager to get back to work. Yes, I actually like my job and was looking forward to finishing up a story.
At 8 o’clock, I checked my work email. Nothing. I called the hotline. No message. So I bundled up like a Bob Gregory commercial and headed out. I have a new car and an intrepid spirit, so I felt prepared.
I purposely started off later to avoid the rush hour idiots who can’t drive on dry pavement, let alone snow-covered tarmac. As expected, traffic was a misnomer: a smattering of cars at best.
Turns out, I should have waited a little longer because the email that called off work for the day went out while I was in transit, and the Robocall reached me as I entered a darkened work.
You Call that a Blizzard?
So I headed home. But on the way down and back, I noticed something more eerie than virtually no cars on the road: no snowplows.
Where are the snowplows? I marveled. You know…the company of about 118 of so snowplows on 12-hour shifts that have been salting all night and—as of when I left—were shifting to plowing.
I wondered as I traversed three arteries to and from downtown: Fall Creek Parkway, Central Avenue, and College Avenue. All three were completely snow covered and showed no hint of being touched by a snowplow blade, only carved into grooves by tire treads.
Brugge Brasserie co-owner Ted Miller was equally nonplussed. “The Mayor tweeted that everyone should stay at home. Why? So no one would notice the plows aren’t out!” His establishment is open, thanks for asking.
Why are Xers like Ted and I exorcized about this? Mainly because we remember growing up when we’d regularly get more snowfall and businesses and schools would stay open—except for Midwest Bartending School, which always closes at the first sign of a flake.
Half inch? No sweat. Foot and a half? Give us a minute, but yes.
Folks younger than us will inevitably tire of us telling our Blizzard of ’78 stories, but that was a snowstorm. Snow was so deep that we built snow caves and tunneled like moles. We were out of school a full week and didn’t have to make it up. Twenty-foot-high snow drifts that our family husky, Nome, frolicked in. And on top of that, the nation dealt with a coal miners’ strike.
Now, I know Indy’s been spared snow like this for a few years. But, c’mon. This isn’t the first time we’ve suffered unnecessary closures and loss of business from a normal snowfall.
It’s quite shameful really. This kind of thing will make you a laughingstock if you put yourself in league with Midwestern cities like Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis. Tell me, if Chi-town gets this much snow, do they close down O’Hare like they shut down our Weir-Cook?
And on top of that, so I need to mention that We Hosted a Super Bowl? What if snow had hit early last February? I guarantee you’d could’ve eaten off the streets of the mile square downtown within a few hours.
Care to make any bets when DPW will clean off the just the main streets after this one?
A Matter of Inches
In a marketing ploy, the Weather Channel has begun naming winter storms. I’m told this is “Winter Storm Euclid,” and I know a certain local microbrewery that can’t wait for Winter Storm Triton.
I’ve been piecing together the timeline for how the Snownado hit Indy this morning. I stopped by to visit with friends last night, and they were watching the storm coverage. At the start of its 10 p.m. newscast, Fox59 established the timeline for the storm to start at 2 a.m. this morning with the brunt of the snow conveniently hitting right during rush hour from 7-9. (I can only assume that this might have wonderfully coincided with the admonishment to be sure to check Fox59 in the Morning for full updates.)
If I remember correctly, her predicted snowfall was from 5-14 inches. Actually, I remember just the maximum amount: 14 inches.
By the end of the hour newscast, the meteorologist had revised the start of the “blizzard” to midnight.
When I finally turned in at 12:30, I looked out the window. Nothing. I stirred in the middle of the night and peered out the window again. Not a thing. To their credit, the forecasters were right on when the storm would start and the duration: It started snowing with a vengeance at 7 and petered out at 9.
And as of this posting, it looks like about barely half a foot.
One of my big beefs with local broadcast news concerns using hype and scare tactics to guarantee ratings. For the longest time, the staple prime-time news update was, “A common household item may kill you; find out which one at 11.” Now, the hype and scare tactics have shifted to the weather. Yes, alerting people when a dangerous storm is approaching saves lives. But let’s not cry wolf here.
And yes, unlike Phil Connors trapped on the interstate out of Punxsutawney, this is more than “just a couple of flakes.”
We as a city just need a better plan for dealing with snowfall like this and need to be more reasonable about how we alert our citizens about it.
OK, I’m going to go enjoy my snowday.
Maybe I’ll even catch sight of a passing snowplow while I’m outside.