Tonawanda News

Opinion

March 29, 2014

ADAMCZYK: The winter rope-a-dope

Tonawanda News — Someday, perhaps as early as the first legitimate day of a legitimate spring, we’ll look back on this and laugh, the boom and bust cycle of the winter we’ve endured. But not right now. Right now it’s more like Rod Serling narrating Charles Schultz.

“Submitted for your consideration. Inspired by a girl, perpetually pulling away a football as a boy attempts to kick it. She promises she won’t, and then she does, time after time. It’s the weather in Western New York, which is not far from Binghamton, where I grew up. These people think they’ve turned the corner and spring is next week. Not in the Twilight Zone, it isn’t.”

As an historian I get to look at old photographs a lot, including those of snowstorms. Kenmore and the Town of Tonawanda were hammered by an epic snowstorm in 1929, on St. Patrick’s Day in 1936 and in 1977. Other winters, too, but that evidence is presently not on my desk. The stuff falling on us in 2014, of course, comes with state-of-the-art predictability; in 1929 it arrived, maybe, after someone in Detroit sent a Western Union telegram reading something on the order of “Big snowstorm about to start stop. You get it next stop.”

Beyond preparing us for those nearly weekly weather panics this winter with expeditions for rock salt, milk and vodka, meteorologists, armed with computers and satellites, can get the panicked emotionally psyched as well, days in advance, and with a certainty that tends to come when the area can reliably receive nine varieties of weather in one week.

This is from an e-mail I received from weather watchdog WBEN-AM on Wednesday: “Conditions will rapidly deteriorate.” That’s why so many workplaces, schools and activities announced their closure early Wednesday, while no snow fell and the temperature was near 40, but that phrase, that certainty; I wish my doctor could parse things with such cast-iron confidence.

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