To Handle Snow, Take a Lesson From Florida

My friends and family up north are preparing for a big snow storm. It’s winter. And in the winter, there are always a couple of snow storms in the northern United States. Please tell the Cleveland TV news anchors this immediately. They act like snow in Ohio is a freaky, apocalyptic deja vu that just keeps happening every year. (“Our top story tonight:  Snow will fall from the sky and will inexplicably build up to as much as a foot in some places and oh dear God have mercy - We’re all going to die!”)

People get so excited and anxious when snow arrives. Maybe it’s the possibility that school can be cancelled and all of your wildest 6th grade dreams can come true. (After 6th grade, your wildest dreams have little to do with watching daytime TV and eating hot lunch made by not the cafeteria ladies.)

My sister Pam used to stand at our big picture window and yell, “It’s driftin’!  It’s driftin’!” because my mom told us that schools in Ohio won’t close because of snow, but they might close if snowdrifts blocked the teacher entrance to the school. Throughout most of my adult life, I would watch a blizzard, mumbling, “It’s driftin’ . . . It’s driftin’ . . . “ picturing teachers trying to dig, shovel and claw their way to the school doors.

Northerners need to take a tip from Floridians in becoming more apathetic about weather emergencies. Here in Florida, you only have to live through one hurricane season to be a jaded, cynical storm wench. And since I’ve lived here in Florida a whole two storm seasons, that’s me, folks.

My first hurricane season, I wrote about how I prepared for Hurricane I-Can’t-Remember-Her-Name-Anymore-Because-They-All-Have-Names-of-My-Mom’s-Card-Club-Ladies-Except-for-Ike. I admitted that I overreacted in all the places I should have been calm, and under-reacted in all the places I should have fled with pre-cooked chicken and insurance documents in my arms. In short, I didn’t know what the Fahkahatchee I was doing.

I know I was the butt of all neighborhood jokes when I put up my hurricane shutters, dragged my porch furniture and planters inside, and barricaded my garage door with a steel post that looks like it could seriously wound a giant vampire. For two days I sat crammed in my kitchen on a patio chair with my feet propped up on cases of water, an armory of flashlights by my side, while the rest of Florida went to the beach, enjoyed the 85-degree, sunny days and watched as the storm passed by on the other side of Cuba. So I didn’t have to use the lantern, anything propane-powered or my evacuation procedure. The upside was I had a freezer full of casseroles that lasted me a couple weeks and I had learned some skills that could get me into the Israeli Army.

That was the first year. By the next year, I was one of the jaded Floridians who goes to Walmart right before a storm and upon seeing someone throwing canned goods into their cart laughs and says, “Yeah, I remember when I used to prepare for a storm. Back in ‘08, we didn’t buy water or batteries. We stood in the eye of the hurricane and shouted obscenities and drank margaritas. Both ways.

That get-used-to-it-iveness just doesn’t happen up north. Of all the winters I spent in Ohio, northern Illinois, and northern New Jersey, where the snow kicked our collective asses every single year, people were still freaking out when the first snowflake fell. The grocery stores were teeming with people buying up all the eggs, milk and bread they could find. 

Because if it drifted? French toast for everyone.

When she's not making snow angels, Diane Laney Fitzpatrick can be reached at

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