Monday, February 15, 2010

Snowmageddon- Dallas Style

The impact on people of extreme and unusual weather is relative to what is considered “normal” and what is considered “extreme” to a particular geographic region. In other words, a two inch rain in Miami is just a typical afternoon shower, while an equivalent amount of rain falling in Phoenix is considered very significant. A 50 mph wind in Lubbock is just considered a stiff, spring breeze, while such a blow would be considered dangerous and damaging in Cleveland.

With this in mind (particularly among you East Coasters buried under multiple-feet of snow) I want to discuss the recent snow event that occurred in Dallas, TX. It usually doesn’t snow more that a couple times during a winter (sleet and ice are more likely) and when it does snow, no more than a couple inches accumulates. That amount is considered a good sized snow event in Dallas. This winter has seen as least four instances of snow accumulation so far, including Dallas’ first white Christmas in 83 years. That milestone was surpassed this past Thursday, Feb. 11 when the skies over north Texas opened up for over 12.5 inches of snow in about in 18 hour period. That’s the official amount at the warm, cozy DFW airport, so I would imagine that the cooler, rural areas saw several more inches of the evil white shit (EWS). The EWS that fell during this particular storm was of the wet and heavy variety which resulted in lots of snapped tree limbs, collapsed awnings and other damage.

A few hours after the EWS finally finished falling, my power went out. How ironic- to lose power on the very day I planned to pay my electric bill. It stayed out for about 32 hours, giving me the opportunity to experience winter camping for the first time since I was a young Boy Scout. As I write this (late Sunday afternoon) thousands remain without power as Oncor (the local state power monopoly) struggles to restore the power they brag they are so good at providing. In fact, according to the Dallas Morning Ooze, Oncor’s operator sent a message before the storm arrived claiming, "Bring it, Old Man Winter. Oncor's ready." Uh-huh.

I shivered and struggled to stay warm, biding my time by cursing and condemning these bungling union jackals for their incompetence, my loss of productive work time and the fact that they are a monopoly and I have no choice but continue to do business with them in the future. I killed time thinking about just what I would do when I spotted an Oncor repair truck finally reaching my neighborhood. Would I merely pepper his vehicle unmercifully with hard, icy snow balls while remaining stoically silent? Or would I add spoken insults, profanities and invectives between each wind up?

I went to the nearby Denny’s for a hot meal and there was a line of people waiting. A line at Denny’s? People must be desperate. To kill time and find some warmth I went to a nearby yuppy mall and walked around. Lots of stores selling useless, overpriced merchandise. The only practical business I noticed was a Radio Shack. The only interesting store I noticed was an Apple store. There must have been fifty sale assistants in the place, decked out in their trademark blue shirts. I dared not walk in to browse, fearing I would be pounced on by an eager, young salesperson, ready to convince me I can afford some of their nifty merchandise.

I can claim some preparation for an event such as this, but saw ways I could improve that preparation for a similar or more severe event in the future. I have a small gas stove to heat food and water but no practical way to keep a room warm. My winter sleeping bag provides a toasty night’s sleep, even in sub-freezing weather. My emergency food supply should hold out for some time.

After regaining power and catching up on the news I found that the weather forecasters had only forecast “one to three inches” of EWS, giving legitimacy to the approach of “prepare for the worst and hope for the best.”

Mercifully, the snow has melted. The EWS is back in either meteorological Hell or Ma Nature‘s deadly arsenal, awaiting the next time She gets peeved and decides to punish us. All that remains are a few grayish white clumps- the remains of EWS-men, created by innocent children who don't know any better.

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