This winter, a respite from bone-chilling temperatures has often meant that a snowstorm has arrived, and if the weather forecasts are correct -- always a big if -- the Berkshires are getting hit with snow today. It being February it is supposed to snow now and then, and county residents know or should know that the reaction to a snowstorm should be care and caution, not panic and hysteria.
Berkshirites looked on in amazement a few weeks ago when a couple inches of snow and ice left cars all over the highways in and around Atlanta, Georgia, causing stranded drivers to trek home forlornly like Napoleon’s troops staggering home from Russia. The 11 p.m. news crew at an Albany, N.Y. TV station chuckled at footage of its counterparts at a TV station somewhere in the Carolinas bringing in mattresses ("Going to the mattresses" is the term from "The Godfather") in anticipation of an approaching storm that would make it impossible for them to go home. The forecast was for four inches of snow.
Up here in the rugged Northeast we can handle snow and ice a little better. It is to a large degree a matter of good tires and driving to the conditions -- taking it easy on the gas pedal, braking carefully, leaving extra time to get to a destination -- and getting parked cars off the roads so municipal snowplows can do their work. It is wise to keep an eye on the weather forecast and to get that forecast from a source that will offer some context and perspective. The Weather Channel by definition has a vested interest in bad weather, and the hyping of that weather, to attract viewers, boost ratings and attract advertisers. For the Weather Channel, bad weather is good news, and vice versa.
"Bad" weather is also a matter of perspective. Snow is good news for the ski areas that play such an important role in the Berkshire economy, and to the restaurants and hotels that serve skiers. In that sense, a snowstorm is "good" weather.
Those who have had enough snow and cold and aren’t interested in a positive spin on winter can be consoled in the knowledge that Boston Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Florida to begin spring training in two days. That tells us, better than any groundhog can, that spring cannot be far away.