Winter Storm Warning for East Coast: Government Advises Panic, Hysteria

The official forecast over the next three days for the Washington, D.C.–Baltimore corridor calls for panic and hysteria.

Actually, that's just the subtext. What we're due for is a blizzard packing 40 mph winds that will dump between 16 and 25 inches of snow. Along with the heavy snow, there is a period of sleet and freezing rain expected Saturday, creating a virtual trifecta of horror. There will almost certainly be power outages as ice-clad trees take out power lines and utility crews wait in line at Dunkin' Donuts. Roads will be impassable. According to one weather blogger, the potential for whiteout conditions means "you might even lose orientation walking around your own neighborhood. Please take this seriously."

I got 10 gallons of gas today for the generator in case the power goes out. We’re on a well, so I need to fill up the bath tub. I should probably clean it first. Is there such a thing as athlete’s mouth?

I’m supposed to drive 75 miles each way to D.C. and back to pick up Emma tomorrow. I’m stocking the car with food, clothing, emergency supplies, and a whole bunch of books on tape. I’m not even sure it will be possible for me to go. I also got four new tires on my 2003 Subaru Forester. It has all-wheel drive rather than 4-wheel, but it generally goes in the snow when other cars don’t. On the other hand, it can’t get through roads blocked by abandoned cars. So we’ll just have to see.

I went into the grocery store yesterday and it looked like the fall of Saigon. People were trying not to look panicked even as they elbowed one another aside to get at the Holy Trinity of disaster staples—milk, bread, and toilet paper. You’d think that these things, and these alone, are the building blocks of modern civilization. Come to think of it, maybe they are.

I’m breaking out my cross-country skis. We’ve got snow shovels, but our driveway is more than I can manage on my own, and the days when gangs of boys went door-to-door offering to shovel you out for a few bucks are long gone. I’m sort of hoping we do lose power. Not all the houses around here have generators. Once their video game screens go blank, some of those kids will look out the window and see the snow piling up. Some may even decide to go out and play in it.

Hang in there, everybody.

Photo by Jay