PENNDOT is Penn Not – It’s Snow Time!

Today’s apologies come to you from southeastern Pennsylvania and involve the shock and awe of a sneak, hit-and-run snow storm.

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Dear Pennsylvania resident:

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in combination with local authorities, wishes to publicly apologize to the citizens of Pennsylvania for the poor performance of snow-clearing operations this morning.  By way of explanation, the snow storm absolutely snuck up on us (in spite of being the lead story on the news for the past five days), rendering us completely unable to salt or plow.

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The local Fox news affiliate stepped right up and accepted responsibility for completely botching the weather forecast:

[John Bolaris]  “It didn’t work out the way we forecast it”

I have no earthly idea where John picked up that phrase, but it’s positively golden.  Imagine being so completely wrong on your forecast that you need to apologize to your viewers.  What do you do?  You simply state that the weather didn’t perform the way you thought it would, as opposed to 

“We totally blew that one, didn’t we?”

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I’m flummoxed, not to mention flabbergasted and fablunged, over yet another total failure of The System here in the frozen tundra of the Philadelphia area.

I shouldn’t be, but yet I am.

This is not the first time weather forecasters have been wrong.  I don’t know about where you live, but if the local guys were to forecast it getting dark later on tonight and somewhat lighter in the morning, I’d bet against it.  If I had a dollar for every time the forecast doesn’t even stop by to visit the neighborhood of reality, well, I would be spending horrific amounts of money on custom lefty guitars (as opposed to solely health insurance and copays) plus I could go a long way toward paying down the deficit (until the legislative and executive branches built it back up again).

It was supposed to rain this morning, then a lull, then snow.  Instead it snowed – the kind of snowflakes that pile up like mashed potatoes and upon which you have no business driving.  Yes, I know, weather forecasting is not an exact science (sort-of).  My twenty-minute commute took an hour, during which I observed many near-accidents, classic bad driving, and lots of cars doing that really uncomfortable thing where they move sideways.

Bad as that commute was, the worst was yet to come.  When I arrived at work, I had to proceed at five miles per hour over the length of a city block of hazardous snow because it never occurred to the building’s management that they should clear the parking lot.  We lost huge amounts of parking space because no one could see the lines to figure out where to park.

Local and state agencies jumped up immediately to disavow knowledge of the weather and deny all blame for doing absolutely nothing, like salting or plowing.  They used the theory I am referring to as Sneak Snow Storm<tm>.  Yes, the weather snuck right up on them and snowed entirely out of spite.

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I do not live in an area that could legitimately be referred to as tundra, yet lately it feels that way.  I have barely seen pavement in weeks due to snow, frigid temperatures, and poor snow removal.  My point here, and I assure you I have it around here somewhere, is that there are states that get frightening amounts of snow and somehow manage to clear the streets as if nothing happened.

In Philly, as soon as there is even a news report of snow, the entire city starts to shut down; bread and milk fly off the shelves, and everybody with a snow blower takes it to the shop because it won’t start (again).

My friends in Minnesota laugh hysterically when I tell them about snow removal here.  Same for my Canadian, New York, and even New Jersey friends.  It snows, the snow gets removed, life goes on.  Yes, Florida has a reason to go nuts over snow; Philly doesn’t.  In Arizona, the old folks get upset when it rains.

So why can’t Philly/PA remove snow?  Every time it gets ready to snow, the news carries video of the trucks loaded up with salt and warming up, drivers vowing to work overtime and do whatever it takes to keep the roads clear (stock footage, perhaps?).  And every ride to work is fraught with borderline nonexistent snow clearing or salting.  And every time, the Sneak Snow Storm<tm> excuse is trotted out (or one of their other chestnuts).

Well, someone needed to ask the big question.