We think we’re pretty advanced, scientifically and technologically, but Mother Nature can still throw us a hard slider every now and then.
Consider the blizzard that is battering that East Coast this morning. New York City might get as much as 16 inches of snowfall, Philadelphia is canceling public transit, thousands of flights at the Charlotte and Raleigh airports were canceled, and motorists have been stranded on snow-covered roadways. (Surprisingly, the storm bypassed those of us in the upper Midwest, which is the normal habitat of appalling winter storms.)
And Washington, D.C. — well, let’s just say that the Nation’s Capital freaks out when even a tiny bit of snow is forecast, so a big storm causes runs on stores, gas tank topping, and other over-the-top, panicky behavior. That’s the way it was 30 years ago when Kish and I lived there, and according to news reports that’s the way it still is today, too. It doesn’t exactly give you much confidence about how the citizens of D.C. would react in a real crisis. The frightened, frantic crowd scenes when Godzilla appears above the Tokyo skyline probably would be an accurate depiction.
The storm also reminds us of our interconnectedness. With some of the nation’s busiest airports affected, good luck traveling by air today. Airlines are estimating that more than 7,500 flights will be scrubbed, which is like dropping a paralysis bomb into the nation’s transportation grid. Even if you’re on a flight that is leaving from an unaffected city, you might learn that the earlier leg of the flight was coming in from, say, Philadelphia. And trying to get anywhere by roadway if you’re in the snow-battered regions is foolhardy unless the trip is essential. If there’s one thing I learned living in D.C., when the snow does fall in Washington it’s wise to not get into your car, because people who live in places where snow is rare just don’t know how to drive in it. Why expose yourself to the possibility that the person trying to navigate a multi-ton missile on icy, snow-covered roadways doesn’t know what the hell he’s doing?
From the news stories, it looks like Mother Nature won this round.