Season 6, Episode 3
February 6, 2022
I’m originally from a part of the country that usually gets a tolerable amount of snow each winter. My life was rarely troubled by large snowfalls. And when big storms came, they brought days off from school. For someone whose responsibilities could be counted on one hand, snow typically made my days more joyful.
Upon moving further north, first to the Southern Tier of New York, then to New England, I found a deep-seated animosity toward the snow. It surprised me – isn’t the snow something we consider delightful? Perhaps when it’s a light dusting, I found out. But when you lose count of how many massive storms you’ve lived through…snow isn’t a welcome form of weather. And for those who lived through the Blizzard of 1978, you know the destructive power that a massive snowfall can bring.
The nor’easter formed on February 5th, and began dumping snow in the region on the 6th. A typical nor’easter will bring snow for a sustained 6 to 12 hours. But this blizzard snowed for 33 full hours, sometimes snowing four inches an hour. But it wasn’t just the snow itself. Overnight, the snow turned to an icy mix, freezing a great swath of the region and hindering rescue efforts. Additionally, the storm arrived during a new moon, producing a large high tide that destroyed homes and roads along the coastline. It caused the death of about 100 people, along with $2.06 billion worth of damage (in 2020 dollars).
Part of the destructive power of the storm came from the public’s perception of meteorologists’ forecasts as inaccurate. When snow failed to show early on Monday the 6th, people assumed the whole forecast was wrong and went about their routine, traveling into work and school. But then that afternoon the snow arrived, and people were trapped on the interstate or in the cities as it fell.
It’s also important to know that snow, as pretty as it can be on a Christmas day, is still a form of water, one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Weather forecasting and emergency alerts can make a difference, but we must remember that the world is not designed for us to survive unaffected. There are things bigger than us that we can not control. So, in recognition of the powerful and challenges posed by these storms, our theme for episode 3 is blizzards.