Predicting Snow and Other Disasters

It took three hours to drive three miles from Chalkstone Avenue to North Main Street in Providence on Thursday when the storm hit. It was right around lunchtime and everyone had the same idea — leave work early and avoid the rush. I did not see a single snow plow or grain of sand on the road, and people were sliding even at 5 mph. There wasn’t even that much snow–looked about three inches.

There’s nothing like gridlock in the city to show how interdependent we are. I’m not blaming anyone for the fact that it snows, except the Lord (couldn’t He have saved it for later?) I’m just saying that with it being Rhode Island in December, and with the weather reports and all, we probably could have been more coordinated and gotten word that the storm was moving faster than expected. Still, it did come up awfully fast.

I had a lot of time while stuck in traffic to think apocalyptic thoughts.

Should we expect a National Security Advisor to anticipate potential threats?

“I don’t think that anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.”
–Testimony from Condoleeza Rice to the 9/11 Commission

Well, actually, it was on TV a few months previous to September, 11, 2001, in the pilot episode of a show called ‘The Lone Gunmen’. Ms. Rice should have watched it.

There’s nothing like a traffic jam to bring it home that every system has its vulnerabilities. We have 21st Century information technology, and 1950’s implementation. A reverse 911 would have been cool, to call every number to warn us which roads were hopelessly blocked. A plan for staggered closings would have been good, so everyone didn’t all pour out of work and school at the same time. A little mercy to people who might have had to leave their car parked and walk or bus. The buses were out bravely working their routes. I can’t help thinking of what a mess it would be if we had something worse than a few inches of snow.

But I’m not griping about nature, the snow was a great excuse to take the afternoon off. Now it’s dark and the snow is real pretty in the streetlights. Take it slow, drive safe.