January 02, 2007

Snowblind

The Styx tune. As you can see from the lyrics the song was about the perils of cocaine use but let's not let that get in the way of a title appropriate segue into the post. Besides, I always was a closet prog rock fan. :) Here's a vid of them doing the tune live.

I saw this over at Boots & Sabers. A taste:

"Weather Bulletin - Denver
Up here, in the 'Mile-Hi City', we just recovered from a Historic event --- may I even say a 'Weather Event' of 'Biblical Proportions' --- with a historic blizzard of up to 44 inches of snow and winds to 90 MPH that broke trees in half, knocked down utility poles, stranded hundreds of motorists in lethal snow banks, closed ALL roads, isolated scores of communities and cut power to 10s of thousands.
FYI:
George Bush did not come.
FEMA did nothing.
Nobody demanded $2,000 debit cards.
No one asked for a FEMA Trailer House.
We fired up wood stoves, broke out coal oil lanterns
or Coleman lanterns.
We put on extra layers of clothes because up here it is 'Work or Die'. "

Go to Boots & Sabers to read the whole thing - that was just an excerpt. But there are a few inaccuracies in the e-mail Boots & Sabers quotes & that's what I wanted to discuss.

As was pointed out in the comments it's a recycling of an older chain e-mail about a North Dakota blizzard. Also the comparison to a hurricane is a little unfair. I rode out a hurricane once (unintentionally - I was 180 miles inland when it hit) & have been on the edge of a few of them. I much prefer blizzards.

Not that blizzards should be underestimated; without power & supplies they can be deadly. Hell, in India they've lost 28 people in a recent cold snap. & ya know how cold that cold snap was?

"The majority who died from the cold at the weekend were poor and homeless who were exposed to temperatures as low as five degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit), he added." (emphasis added)

When it's 41 out here you can see people with shorts & sandals on. Okay I'm exaggerating but only slightly (they'll have socks on with the sandals). But 41 is deadly if you're not prepared for it. & being without power, stranded in a car or just being outdoors for prolonged periods will test your preparedness.

But even though it's not a fair comparison between a hurricane & a blizzard both are debilitating to an area. The former has longer lasting effects but I think the latter can be more deadly over a longer period (at least in the developed world). With a hurricane most deaths result in the first few hours whereas with a blizzard it takes a while (a few days to a few weeks depending) for the danger to pass.

I said I prefer blizzards to hurricanes & that's mainly due to the type of dangers present. Assuming I'm stuck in place a hurricane will bring a lot of water & high winds coupled with tornados. A blizzard will bring high winds (though not typically as high as in a hurricane), snow & cold air. I can keep warm a whole lot better than I can keep from being blown away but that doesn't mean a blizzard is to be underestimated.

"Utility crews struggled to restore electrical service to tens of thousands of homes and businesses as grocery store shelves in southeastern Colorado went bare and hungry cattle grew isolated following a blizzard that dumped nearly 3 feet of snow and piled some of it in drifts 15 feet high."

That was from a story I found early this morning - about 5 days after the last significant snowfall happened.

Around here we didn't have it so bad. Not that it was a picnic but we didn't lose power. & having power means it's a helluva lot easier to get by. Without power I'd have been alright but a lot of other folks may not have been. Some folks were definitely not alright; at least 12 people have died as a result of this last blizzard. I believe most of the deaths were the result of traffic accidents caused by the bad road conditions.

I should also point out that we did rely on government for assistance throughout the last few blizzards. Mainly this came in the form of plow trucks & other snow removing activities to keep the roads clear. & yes there was some bitching because the roads weren't as clear as we'd have liked (especially the first time around). The various cities just didn't have the snow removal equipment or the manpower to keep the roads clear with the snow coming down as fast & heavy as it did. So some folks bitched while most of the rest of us understood.

To give an idea of what it was like, the main roads around here were one lane each way for a while (when they had been two lanes plus generous turning lanes at intersections). You couldn't see the pavement let alone those little yellow & white lines; you just followed the tracks of the cars that had preceded you. Once you turned off the main roads into a neighborhood it was like 4-wheeling with white mud. The snow in some places was taller than my car's clearance & I admit I got stuck a few times (only momentarily though; never underestimate the power of a front wheel drive stick shift & someone stupid determined enough to use it).

But government assistance was needed & given to some degree. There were road crews trying to keep the main routes of travel clear to National Guard & other state agents passing out supplies & performing rescue missions. I'm not sure about any federal assistance but I wouldn't be surprised if Colorado didn't ask for funds to cover the expense of dealing with the blizzards. I don't think anyone has blamed Bush yet (though I haven't heard a peep out of Boulder so I could have just missed the condemnation of Bush's covert blizzard making satellites) but there have been some occasional gripes about various cities ability to cope with heavy snowfalls.

The e-mail posted over at Boots & Sabers is funny as long as you don't take it too seriously. After all it was written for a different blizzard in a different location & it has a few of the facts wrong. & it's not quite fair to compare a hurricane to a blizzard. But the basic point that government cannot save you from everything nor should it be expected to is valid & hopefully won't be lost because of the errors in fact.

But the real difference between the way Colorado handles a major weather emergency & the way Louisiana did is that no agents of the state went door to door to disarm anyone in Colorado. That's not only good for us Coloradans but for the agents of the state as well.

& since emergency preparedness is always something to blog about I shameless link to myself yet again recommend the posts I Will Survive & Snow Related Note Part Two as there are some links in each that will hopefully be of service.

Posted by Publicola at January 2, 2007 06:18 AM | TrackBack
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