Winter wonderland -- 12/20/08

Eight Holidailies entries out of a possible sixteen -- I'd better get busy!
(Just wander in from Holidailies? There's an introduction to the main characters down towards the bottom of the page... just scroll down.)

About a year ago (December 13, 2007) Rhode Island was hit by a snowstorm that dumped a lot of snow on the state. There was little accumulation of snow during the morning commute time, most schools and businesses were open, but then the snow began to get deep and generally around lunchtime, almost all schools closed early... and many business let their employees leave early. The problem was, closing schools and sending workers home early put rush hour amounts of traffic on snow-covered roads. Some cars got stuck on highway exit ramps, causing traffic jams on the highways. Snowplows could not plow the roads because of the traffic congestion. It took hours for people to get home. The worst cases of traffic gridlock were in the city of Providence. Those traffic jams included many school buses. Parents were placing frantic phone calls. The school administration seemed clueless. The superintendent of schools apparently didn't know anything until almost eleven p.m. The governor was out of state (actually, out of the country -- he was in the middle east visiting Rhode Islanders serving in the military.) and the various administrators seemed not to know what to do, except to refuse to pay any attention to the lieutenant governor because the law no longer required the lieutenant governor to be acting governor when the governor left the state (and in Rhode Island the governor and lieutenant governor do not run as a team -- in fact, they are usually, as they are now, from opposite political parties).

The upshot of that was the state emergency administrator was fired and the equivalent official for Providence was also fired and some others were demoted or moved to other positions, and a few months later the superintendent of schools for Providence moved on to another city (thus avoiding being fired).

So, just as the population of Rhode Island remember being trapped for three days by the Blizzard of '78 and thus flock to supermarkets to buy bread and milk every time there is a heavy snowfall predicted, apparently every public official in the state remembers the trauma of 12/13/08 -- and with the weather forecast for Friday predicting snow beginning in mid-morning with very heavy snow coming about noon and possible accumulations of 8 to 11 inches -- the state emergency preparedness team was holding meetings and press conferences and issuing warnings and by mid-afternoon on Thursday almost every school system in the state announced that schools would be closed on Friday.

The snow begins...
Jill shoveling our driveway about eight o'clock Friday night.
Around lunchtime today -- a winter wonderland.

Fortunately for those the state officials who pushed the panic button, the weather forecast was correct in terms of snowfall (although, frankly, at the most a one hour early dismissal probably would have sufficed for most school districts). The first of those three pictures was taken in our driveway at 2:48 in the afternoon when there was barely an inch of snow and a majority of kids in our district would have been home with an normal dismissal time. (It's been more than a dozen years since we moved to Rhode Island from upstate New York, but I still can't understand the way people seem to panic over a bit of bad weather. I think a lot of blame should fall on the news media who try to hype every minor inconvenience into a world-ending catastrophe.)

An introduction for those of you wandering in here from Holidailies for the first time: I'm just a middle-aged guy (but somehow I hit 65 on my last birthday) who lives in Rhode Island with my wife Nancy (a middle-school math teacher), daughter Gillian ("Jill" -- 26 yr old baker and part-time college student), son Jeremy (23 yr old restaurant cook and part-time college student), and Tiger (senior citizen cat). Eldest child Adam lives in New York City with his wife Leah and our grandsons Sam and Milo. I'm a programmer/systems analyst who got involved with software training and instructional design. I currently work from home doing quality assurance and editing on course material for both classroom courses and Web- based training courses for a very big computer company. I've been writing this online journal since 1996.

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