Tuesday, January 28, 2003

I'm getting used to the white stuff



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Don't know about you, but I can't get enough of subzero temperatures and shovel-able snowfalls.

Today's forecast for a high above freezing - a veritable heat wave - leaves me cold. Don't want that snow to melt. Or the mercury to rise.

Frigid weather mixed with snow - the more the better - is good for Cincinnati. It helps my hometown step out of character.

There's been ample opportunity for that lately. The Tristate's locked in winter's grip.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like snow has been on the ground since late August.

Tim Hedrick, Channel 12's chief meteorologist, assured me it's not been that long. More like a month.

Still, that's a long time for Cincinnati. Our changeable climate doesn't give a snowball much of a chance to stick around longer than a week.

"Snow hasn't been on the ground this long for the last 10- years," noted Channel 12's primo weatherman.

The white stuff has been around so long I'm getting used to it, ready to embrace winter and hoping for more snow.

Enjoy it while you can, the weatherman said.

"A nasty system is moving in," he predicted, "with typical Cincinnati winter weather."

That means sleet. Freezing rain. Wet snow. The wretched excess that makes Cincinnatians hate winter.

Let it snow

It's no secret, we are a bunch of snow wimps. Cincinnati never gets dumped on to the depth of such winterized cities as Chicago, Buffalo and Cleveland.

They get snow by the foot. And keep going.

The threat of a few flakes sends Cincinnati into a panic. A few inches fall and the place practically shuts down. Whether it's a dusting or a blizzard, the town undergoes a personality change.

Cincinnatians are polite to a fault. But not when weathermen spout the S-word.

Snow strikes fear into every native's heart. The white death is coming!

Forget about being polite. It's everyone for himself, just like the contestants on Cincinnati's favorite TV show, Survivor.

Wind chill factors below zero and a thick blanket of white conspire to make the Queen City's most mild-mannered citizen take on the fang-bearing characteristics of a linebacker on steroids.

Snow in the offing creates a run on grocery stores. Marauding shoppers pick the shelves clean of Cincinnati's snowstorm staples: milk, bread, beer and toilet paper, for happy endings.

Normally timid grannies, their carts overflowing, brawl with burly construction workers for a place in line in the 12-items-or-less lane.

Slippery slopes

On the way home, these shoppers will make another uncharacteristic move. They'll stop while going up a hill. Whether or not they're losing traction.

In nice weather, nobody stops on Cincinnati's hills. They don't pause to survey the landscape. They plow on.

But, when it snows, they stop. For no good reason. Then they start to slide. And slam on the brakes.

Pretty soon, in this city of hills, nobody's getting to the top. Everybody's spinning their wheels. Enjoy the view.

Cincinnatians may not know squat about driving in snow. But, thanks to generous street-treatment budgets, we have other road-worthy talents.

No other city on earth can match us for knowing how to drive on streets covered with three or four inches of rock salt.

The good news about tonight's forecast is that we'll have another opportunity to refine this specialized skill.

And, it won't get warm enough to melt everything on the ground.

So, you can still make a snow angel. Before heading for the grocery store.

Call Cliff Radel at 768-8379; or e-mail: cradel@enquirer.com.

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