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Journalists look like flakes after storm that wasn't

March 11, 2013

This is what I love about U.S. journalism.

We could waste our time getting to the bottom of the Fast and Furious weapons scandal, expose the agro-chemical industry for poisoning our babies or bring shame to Congress for failing to perform even the most routine of duties.

But no, we don’t have that cuz — there’s a storm a comin’.

Thanks to advances in meteorological sciences, we now get frantic a full five days earlier than we did a decade ago. What crystallized it for me was a “live report” from one of the Washington television stations 48 hours before “Snowquester” was supposed to cripple the East Coast on Wednesday.

It was one of their weather guys out on the street, talking with great excitement about the coming storm and its potential effects. Which was fine, except he was standing outdoors on a street corner under a bright afternoon sun, not a cloud in the sky and the storm still two days away and he was wearing his station-issued raincoat.

I mean, I’m all for getting in the mood, but you don’t wear your naughty nighty to the grocery store. Keep your powder dry, sonny. It’s like Christmas — it’ll get here, but you can’t rush it.

Well, it will get here unless it doesn’t.

No, I’m not being critical. This is what makes me proud to be an American. Because I think we just might have weathered the first virtual snowstorm in the history of earth.

No, really, we had everything except the snow. The raincoat under sunny skies was just emblematic of what all the rest of us were doing.

All the state roads trucks went through their standard motions, salting the highways (“pretreating,” they call it) just as if the good old-fashioned white stuff had been coming down at three inches an hour.

We gave the storm a name, like we did when we were kids and had all kinds of imaginary friends. Everyone went to the stores three days before the storm was to hit, and then just stayed home the day before, as if sunshine were snowflakes.

As the warm, afternoon sun set over the Alleghenies on Tuesday, schools were canceled far and wide, nonessential-employee notices went out and everything basically shut down tight as a drum.

I am not just pointing fingers at other people here. I had a hand in canceling an epic speech I had planned at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts on Thursday.

Would that be the Thursday where the temperature hit 60 degrees and the sun was shining and birds were singing? Yes, it would, but we were pretty sure that even a day after the storm, the area would be crippled to the point that no one would come. (It’s been rescheduled for March 28, if you were wondering, which I doubt you were.)

So as you can see, due to good-old American ingenuity, we were able to pull off all the elements of a major winter snowstorm without having to put up with any actual snow.

Brilliant.

We know what we’re going to be wrong about days before we used to know what we were going to be wrong about back in the dark ages.

I see a world of possibilities: Rainless hurricanes, dry floods and wind-free tornadoes. We can play right along — go to the basement with Auntie Em while absolutely nothing goes on outside. All the fun without the mess. Who says American can-doism is dead?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at timr@herald-mail.com.


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