03 February 2011

Snowprah 2011 - an editorial

The more I keep watching the City of Chicago come under fire (mostly from the press, not anyone else) the more irritated I get.

I think we can fault the City for many many things in history but what happened on Lake Shore Drive (LSD) seems to me to lie more with those who were driving on it than the city.

In no way possible does it compare with what happened in New Orleans and Katrina, but the human psyche is virtually the same
  1. "It's not going to be as bad as they say it's going to be"
  2. "This is the easiest way home, I don't care what they say"
  3. "_I_ can make it, I know how to drive in the snow"
  4. "Nothing is going to happen, people are panicking but I know what to do"
For at least 24 hours before it happened, all local major news outlets were warning that there were going to be 10-20 FOOT waves off of Lake Michigan that were definitely going to come up onto the Drive creating an icy nightmare as well as difficulty for the city to clear it.  I saw two specific weather folks voice frustration via their Facebook or Twitter accounts about how people generally don't believe them.  They both recognized that it's tough to always get it right but that it is a constantly moving and changing target.  However, they said that because of the false claims in the past, they were running computer models for days and even several times an hour in the lead-up to the big storm.  As I said in a previous post, Tom Skilling tends to be the most accurate because he truly is a weather geek.  He rarely is so far off that it's ridiculous.

Anyway, the storm had been predicted to be epic enough as early as January 25th and for at least two days prior, the news, including The Weather Channel was gearing up for what was going to happen.  Look, if Jim Cantore is showing up on your streets, you better get ready for one hell of a storm and hunker down.  TWC don't just send him out to spring showers.
 I don't know, I DOUBT I was brought up in a Chicago household that was the minority but when these things start getting predicted there's a simple list of a few things we're all taught to do.
  • Keep your car's gas tank at full/nearly full and don't wait until the night before to do it
  • Always dress for the worst, but if you don't want to then bring it along (see next bullet)
  • Make sure you have the following in your trunk - heavy blanket(s), extra hat/gloves, small rations (crackers, chips), a shovel, jumper cables, extra window washer fluid, de-icer for windows/door locks
  • Keep your cell phone full charged and if you have a car charger or extra battery, keep that along
  • Have both sets of your keys in case you have to leave your car
  • If you get stuck, make sure your tailpipe remains free from the snow and lift your wiper blades up so they don't freeze to the windshield
For the most part, the people they are interviewing on tv who are picking up their cars that were stranded on the LSD most are pretty easy going and are happy that there's no fees being levied on them but there have been a few who are claiming that they thought they were going to die in their cars and that they had run out of gas and were freezing to death.

First, nice dramatic effect for the news to run continuously as A-Roll but shame on you!  A full tank of gas on a car, running while idle, can likely run for more than a day which means you wouldn't have frozen to death doofus.

I'm not sure the City could be blamed for not closing the LSD sooner but if they had I'm sure the people who were driving on it would have screamed bloody murder that they were going to get caught on Clark or wherever.  Could they be blamed for running the buses down LSD still at that hour?  Maybe, but again, people had been encouraged to take public transportation and so they were running them as quickly as they can.  There's now talk that the City should have stationed emergency vehicles near every exit on the LSD, yes, and then if they couldn't mobilize to another area of the City if there had been an emergency they would have been crucified for that as well.

Let's call it what it was:  3 nasty vehicle accidents, relatively close to each other which ended up blocking the entire four lanes of the LSD.  Even in DRY conditions people would have been stuck there for a few hours so not sure what else could have been done.

You want to blame the City, okay, DEFINITELY blame them for all my friends who STILL don't have their side streets cleared yet (2 days later!!!)  THAT is something the City should be hung out to dry for.

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