Tonawanda News

February 10, 2013

Three feet of snow? Pfft!

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The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — Is it just me or have we all become a bunch of winter wimps in Western New York?

For days we were forced to listen to ominous reports of the winter storm that pounded New England. In some places it dropped three feet of snow. It was the fifth-largest snowfall in Boston history and set all-time records in other places.

Of course three feet of snow isn’t anywhere close to a record here in Western New York. Daily snowfall records aren’t tabulated by the National Weather Service but anyone with a decent memory can remember some really rough snowfalls. In 2001, we got 83 inches in a five-day storm, with 68 of it coming from Dec. 26 to 28. 

Those slightly older than me can recall the infamous blizzard of ‘77. 

There was the Thanksgiving storm in 2002 that stranded people for days.

I bring this up because it’s been a while since we’ve had to deal with a truly crippling snowstorm. For this I’m thankful, though let’s be honest: It’s coming.

Hopefully it’s not any time soon, but there will be more days where there’s snow taller than most people, where you’re going to spend the next 24 hours pretty much wherever you are when it hits. 

We don’t serve ourselves well by over-covering storms of little importance. The foot or so of snow we got Friday into Saturday wasn’t memorable. It didn’t disrupt life. Kids went to school, people went to work and the newspapers made it to your doorstep without much more frustration than normal.

I think all this snow-bia — defined as an unreasonable fear of snow — comes first from TV news stations who look to grab readers with blinking graphics touting a “LAKE EFFECT SNOW WARNING!” It might be good for ratings, but it isn’t good for delivering the news.

It’s also lazy journalism. Snow in Buffalo in February isn’t a story unless it’s measured by multiples of 12.

So we get people clearing grocery shelves and hoarding canned goods and bottled water. (Why water? Are the pipes going to freeze?)

But there’s arguably one bigger problem: When there’s a real storm coming are we actually going to listen to the Weathermen Who Cried Wolf?

And finally there’s the most disturbing part. We’re from Western New York! Buffalo is the snow capital of the nation! Even though we all know lots of places get more snow annually than us, we’re known far and wide as the only city in America can take seven feet of snow and get more or less back to normal in less than a day.

With all this fretting over fearsome snows that don’t snow — or don’t snow that much — we’re in serious danger of losing the claim we’ve staked as America’s Snowmen. 

I say Buck Up, Buffalo!

The next time the big one we’ll be reminded how silly all those TV newscasts sound when they’re endlessly chattering about 8 inches of snow when there’s a snow drift as tall as your house.

Then we’ll do what we always do. Start shoveling until we can get to work and tell everyone our storm stories.

Eric DuVall is the managing editor of the Tonawanda News. His column appears Wednesdays and Sundays. Contact him at eric.duvall@tonawanda-news.com.