Dean’s List: Who knew it snows in Schenectady?

“I can’t believe it’s snowing again.”


“I can’t believe it’s snowing again.”

My son was peering out into the backyard Saturday night from the shelter of the porch.

“Hey,” I said. “It’s winter.”

He’s part of a peculiar subset in this part of the world who is surprised that it snows in winter and whines about it a lot. I’m of two minds about him. He’s a snowboarder so he should appreciate snow. On the other hand, I can forgive him because he’s twentysomething.

But, as for the rest of you, especially those of you who actually remember when Reagan was president, are you kidding me?

Perhaps you moved here recently from southern California.

This is upstate New York, and in the winter, it snows.

On those occasions when there is a true snow drought, the ski centers have been known to import a sachem to conjure up a storm. (It doesn’t work, but it makes for a great promo on the 6 o’clock news.)

They rarely have to do that, though, because we seldom have a winter without abundant snow.

Take, for example, a December I remember less than a decade ago when there were two snowstorms within a day or so of each other that each dropped more than 20 inches on Schenectady — 21 and 24 inches, as I recall.

The plows never had a chance. We spent the next few weeks trying to navigate our vehicles through treacherous snow-clogged tunnels or just parking them and hoofing it. It gave one the sense of what it’s like to live in Anchorage except, of course, they’re used to snowplowing in Anchorage.

Until last week, we’d actually had a mild winter snowwise. But we never seem mindful of that once winter turns nasty. At the first snowflake, we tend to get all misty and remark about how pretty it is. But if there’s any appreciable accumulation, and it starts to cramp our lifestyles, the lamentations begin as if it’s been the worst winter on record, even when it’s not even close to that.

I can forgive the people in Washington, D.C., which was buried last month by two back-to-back storms. They’re not accustomed to so much snow and certainly not prepared to deal with it.

But here in Schenectady, we should expect the occasional “snowmaggedon” or “snowicane,” as my favorite alarmist forecasters at like to call the big storms.

Some of the meteorologists at the National Weather Service and among AccuWeather’s competitors, by the way, publicly scolded the State College, Pa.-based company for its use of terms that might panic the populace. AccuWeather’s people responded that they wanted to get across to people that these were no ordinary snowstorms bearing down on them, but dangerous, life-threatening events.

In the back-and-forth account provided by The Associated Press, a more conservative meteorologist felt compelled to point out that “snowmaggedon” and “snowicane” do not appear in his meteorological glossary.

Well, I like them, and I’ll continue to look forward to AccuWeather’s alarmist forecasts. How else do I know when to run to the store to get bread because, you know, you don’t want to get snowed in without bread.

Seriously, though, some of us actually look forward to winter because it means an opportunity for skiing, skating, snowshoeing and making a snowman.

If you can’t — or don’t want to — do any of those things, the next time there’s a snowicane, put the soup pot on and curl up with a good book.

Spring is coming.

Irv Dean is the Gazette’s city editor. Reach him at [email protected].

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