Predicting Storm Q’s human behavior fallout February 14, 2013
Tuesday is my column-writing night. This week finds me surrounded by warnings of imminent danger. Winter storm Q is on the prowl and people are nervous. Predicted snowfall totals vary by the hour, ranging from 6 inches to notify-the-National-Guard-we’re-all-gonna-die.
Nebraska has experienced wicked snowstorms long before the birth of sophisticated forecast technology. The Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888 was one of the cruelest, claiming more than 200 lives as it roared through the Plains — many of them children and teachers trapped in one-room schoolhouses, or trying to make their way home in the viscous snowy blast.
The winter of 1948-49 was hammered by one storm after another, dropping more than 100 inches of accumulated snow in some places, and turning 200 miles of a four-state region into frozen tundra. I’ve read reports that the snow didn’t completely melt until June. When people ran out of coal and heating fuel, they burned furniture to stay warm. Military and rescue groups formed “Operation Snowbound,” a multifaceted effort that freed snowbound travelers, fed stranded livestock, and cleared more than 115,000 miles of road.
If the forecasters are correct, we’ll have met Q face-to-face by the time this column prints. It presents an interesting opportunity for me to make a few keyboard predictions about its fallout a few hours in advance. So I’m donning my turban, reading tea leaves, and looking into my crystal ball.
I predict a gallon of milk will be harder to find than an affordable acre of land. Snow and dairy seem oddly combined, and anyone who didn’t stock up by Wednesday noon will be left in the cold. The same goes for bread, eggs, canned cheese and snack crackers. Goodness knows you don’t want to be caught in a storm without waffles. People will forget to refill their blood pressure prescription, but things will get downright ugly without Easy Cheese and a box of Ritz.
I also have a long-range hunch that a shower of babies will be born around Thanksgiving, for reasons I won’t explain. Perhaps they’ll have names like Quinn or Quillan.
Highway ditches and interstate medians will be full of jackknifed trucks and overturned cars. Heinous forecast be darned, people will be on the roads. Schlueterville is no different. Before the streets are cleared, Hunka Burnin’ Hubby and I will be pondering the status of Dairy Queen, and the prospects of a hot fudge sundae enjoyed while watching clouds of white dance beyond the windowpane. It’s our odd snowstorm-induced obsession. I give authorities permission to ignore my stupid self if they find me frozen to the curb. If the streets are impassable, I’ll be the one wearing snowshoes.
I predict Hunka will be on the lookout for abandoned parking lots icy enough to cut a couple donuts with his behemoth diesel truck. It’s his one-finger salute to the drudgery of winter, and acting ridiculous without getting caught keeps him young. Don’t give him too much grief. He’s the guy you want driving by if you’re stuck in a drift. It’s a sure bet he’ll stop with a tow rope and an offer of assistance. He won’t take money but Dairy Queen coupons are always appreciated.
So bring it on, Q. Nebraskans can take whatever you dish out.
Tam Schlueter adopts a "strike-fast-and-keep-them-laughing" approach to writing. Her column appears every Thursday in the Hastings Tribune, and showcases the wonder of family, dogs, muscle cars, and folks with blue collars and no-nonsense attitudes.