The Almost Blizzard of 2017

by John Delach

You may ask: “How was the great blizzard of 2017?”

“How in hell should I know! Mary Ann and I were in Vegas having flown out on Saturday, March 11 for a week-long stay.” (In case you were wondering, Vegas’ week’s weather was sunny in the mid-80s.)

While it’s impossible to completely avoid the hype from a storm of this significance, it is considerably more comfortable to observe it vicariously from a distance. The hype actually began the previous Wednesday when meteorologists first reported conditions for a possible nor’easter were developing in the Southwest. The Jet Stream had setup in a perfect position to accelerate a storm up the East Coast and by Saturday a second storm, this an Alberta Clipper, was racing across the Midwest on a timetable to meet the nor’easter late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. “Gotterdammerung,” headlines proclaimed, “all is lost,” “pray for salvation” and even, “the sky is falling.”

Doom overshadowed New York City; impassable roads, railroads and subways in shambles, airports shut-all flights cancelled. Forecasters were so certain of a direct hit that airlines abandoned even the attempt of flying to cities on the East Coast from DC to Baltimore, Philadelphia and New York and as far north as Providence, Boston and Portland. Airlines abandoned these cities and parked their planes in benign locations to wait out the snow.

“What me worry?” We were in the catbird seat. Our return flight was not until Saturday and by then order was sure to be restored. Curiously, we discovered we were not alone in having left Dodge while the getting out was good.

Our neighbors, Rob and Linda K had also hightailed it on early Sunday morning; destination, St. Thomas, VI. Their absence, especially Rob’s, from snowmageddon could be critical to the well-being of our neighbors on Roger Drive. Linda’s big gift for Rob last Christmas was a powerful two-stroke snow blower, a gift that has remained mostly idle this winter. The exception, a single February double-digit snow fall provided Rob the opportunity to show his stuff and show it he did clearing three different neighbors’ driveways and sidewalks. Rob became the savior of Roger Drive and in a burst of enthusiasm, he vowed to keep these neighbors clear for what remained of this winter season. St. Thomas versus snowmageddon: the winner – St. Thomas. Good luck neighbors, you’ll need it.


We declined Rob’s generous offer. A 2012 hip replacement ended my macho-man plowing days forever and I signed on with an all around handy man and good guy, Roberto, who has saved us every time Mother Nature blasted Port Washington. Thanks to Roberto, we expect go home to a plowed driveway, steps and sidewalk.


The third group of escapees was AWOL, absent without leave. This merry band, Frankie D, Frankie C. and Mikey S. were marooned on Sanibel Island, FL until Friday. They were scheduled to return to New York / New Jersey on Monday evening  from their annual golf trip but received a text message from Jet Blue that afternoon cancelling their flight. AWOL, indeed! Jet Blue’s only alternative; remain in Sanibel until Friday. While not as warm and sunny as Las Vegas or St. Thomas, the Sanibel forecast was high 60s for this week. Not too shabby especially for golf.


I shared the following text message with the gang of three on Tuesday morning: “Boys, looks like you caught the best break of your lives. Enjoy, as, of course, you know this is your last boy’s winter golf-outing, ever. Lynn (Mike’s wife) and Suzanne (Frankie D’s) will be genuinely and perpetually pissed off by the time to get your asses home.”


(Frankie C is single and has an apartment in Stuyvesant Town so he is golden.)


So what happened? In case you missed it, snowmageddon was a near-miss. The storm took a 50-mile dog leg to the west brushing the metropolitan area as it crossed on a diagonal from the southwest to the northeast instead of hitting head on. Two to six inches of snow dropped on southern New Jersey, New York City, Long Island and coastal Connecticut before turning into a messy mixture of sleet, freezing rain and plain rain.


A blame-game followed as mayors, governors, forecasters and transportation experts harrumphed and pointed fingers while the media ducked and weaved and denied over-hyping the event.


I did find one realistic explanation: Tom King, a meteorologist explained: “The storm is there, the precipitation is there – the amount of precipitation is there. The people in eastern Pennsylvania, northern New Jersey, southern (upstate) New York and (most of) Connecticut – they are getting walloped.”


And so it goes…