You really have to hand it to The Weather Channel when it comes to miscalling the 24-hour forecast. They seem to excel at the skill. One person told me, in defense of this guild, that they get it wrong more often simply because they predict it more often. It wasn’t a question of incompetence, he continued, but sheer numbers. If I had been a freshman in college, I would have fallen for that schlock, but I’ve been around the block a few times and know bullshit when I hear it. I gave a brief thought to his words and then changed the subject, adding he do with an MRI.
You see, you’d think these guys had the wherewithal to make a fairly decent stab at the kind of atmospheric conditions you can expect for the next couple of hours. After all, that’s all they do and they boast some of the finest technology a human can possess.
All week they had been saying there would be rain here and rain there and rain in the streets and rain in the parks; rain inside and out. It would be soaking our shingles roofs rotten. Then it would develop into snow late for a short period on New Year’s Eve, say an hour or two, harmlessly dissolve in the puddles that had been formed on the ground, and then turn into all rain again for the New Year. One big goddamn mess, I tell you. It just stirs one’s soul with glee to hear news of that kind, but if that was what they said, there wasn’t much we could do about it.
Well, they couldn’t have gotten it more wrong. It was early New Year’s Eve morning and it was snowing…snowing a lot. The trees were becoming laden with fluffy white precipitation, the highways were a mess, the commute was hellacious, and my daughters were pumped up about the idea of practicing the art of ambushing with a plump snowball. They don’t get many chances back inMadrid, and from the looks of them, I could tell they wanted to make up for lost time.
Where was the rain? Not hither or dither. Who could have missed this call? Even as the stuff was three inches and growing, the radio predicted about an inch max! Look out the window for crying out loud! Honestly, just how hard is it to forecast storms these days? Hours before, and I mean, maybe six at the most, apparently no one saw this coming, except for me I guess. I bothered to sneak into the Weather Channel’s secret website where they have a thing called a radar image which showed a massive blue blob the size of Uranus heading this way. That color meant only one thing: frozen precipitation, and plenty of it. And yet the official report insisted on calling for rain, as if they were trying desperately to hold onto their blunder for the sake of foolish pride. It’s just beyond me. All I do inSpainis brag about how technologically advanced my country is, about how they can tell you down to the second when that thunderbolt is going to strike you in the ass, and then they turn around and do this to me!
I bet they’ve got some awesome gadgets back at the headquarters that they show only to great scientists, foreign dignitaries or chicks they want to get into bed with. “Ever show you my ultra-violent, heat-detecting precipitation scanner honey? Oh, you’re gonna love this! It rotates for hours and it makes mojitos too.” They must have been humping on that radar screen or something like that, because someone clearly missed the latest developments.
Once the meteorologists caught up with the rest of the world and they were able to determine just when the snow would stop, which wasn’t saying much since they didn’t know it was coming at all. Too late.
By northeast standards, though, the snowfall was little more than a nuisance, and somewhat of a disappointment, especially in Greenwich where everyone is equipped for the rugged backcountry with chunky SUVs, or whatever you call those things these days, so they say what a tough time they had grinding up the hill to their driveway. Then they’ll add that they even had to get out of the vehicle to open the gate manually because the remote is frozen solid. The cars have become more and more macho. I find it a bit mindboggling that I should clamber up a Mercedes like a child on a jungle gym, but that is just the kind of challenges I am faced with in this town. Once buckled in, you look out and can literally confirm that you are at an altitude. I once asked my brother, “So, how high up are we?” I could see the Sound from the dashboard. Years ago, that wasn’t such a surprise. In fact, there were dozens of spots from which you could gaze out over a stretch of miles and spot the bluish gray strip of Long Island Sound capped on top by the low-lying forests ofLong Islanditself. That was because back then, like much of New England, farms abounded inland, and woods made up the fringes of fields and pastures. As the New Englander finally gave up on his fight to tame the planet’s rockiest soil, the firs, pines, maples, oaks, birches, dogwoods, and all the rest began creeping back in. Now the town is enveloped in flora.
The ability to survey the Connecticut shore was also due to the hilly terrain of this land. Greenwichisn’t mountainous, but it is certainly hilly as ridge after ridge ripple up and down, east to west, or west to east, depending on how you look at things. It can make for some hazardous driving conditions no matter what your annual salary is. The snow, like hunger, has a funny way of making everyone the same. It’s a chance to take on the world.
This sense of impending danger caters to a classic local condition known as the Greenwich Denial Syndrome. This is a curious affliction among some in this town who wish to seem as un-Grenwegian as possible in order to boost their manliness and readiness to tough out the ruggedness of the country, while not quite leaving the confines of the community. They want to set themselves apart from the rest of the residents, when, in fact, this is precisely what makes so many Grenwegians look alike. They’ve got it all wrong. Handling snow-stricken roads while commandeering a Hummer doesn’t impress me that much, I tell you. Try driving down one of those hairpin turns on Dingletown Road in a Chevy Chevette with baldnig tires and no rearview mirror if you want to prove your worth. That takes balls.
But still, by nine in the morning, the ground was blanketed with frozen precipitation and though I wouldn’t call it blizzard conditions, things were getting somewhat ugly out there. On top of that, I had lived in Spain long enough to feel I had lost some of my skills at driving in snowy conditions, and I had some doubt about whether or not we would make it up to Simsbury, Connecticut to spend the night with our friends Juan and Vicky and their family for New Years. After all, it wasn’t precisely around the corner, and we would be heading north. So, we hung out for a while and gave some thought to it. I fielded about 300 calls from my parents warning me about the dangers of road and frozen water, but since it was supposed to all get better in a couple of hours, they finally accepted my decision.
In the meantime, we took a break and enjoyed an occurrence you don’t see to often back in Madrid. It was especially fun for my daughters who just couldn’t believe their eyes. Here the snow falls, the snow sticks quickly, the snows becomes one with the surroundings.