When the big storm was announced Sunday night, I immediately began preparing. Twelve to 18 inches of snow in the Salt Lake Valley, the weather woman cautioned. She predicted school closures, travel restrictions and yeti sightings.
I should have known better. Storms have a way of changing their minds. How often have the weather heads predicted the end of the world and nothing happened?
Then I realized that this particular forecast was prophesied on palindrome day: 02/02/2020, which won’t happen again for another century, on 12/12/2121. It had to be a sign.
Since it’s the height of stupidity to mess with odds like this, I located my snow shovel, gassed up the snowblower, stuffed newspapers into my snow boots, and made sure I had plenty of flares, fuel oil and food stores in the basement.
I went to bed but didn’t get much sleep. A new ice age would appear by morning.
When dawn broke over Herriman, I crawled out of bed and began suiting up for an arctic expedition. Just to be sure, I peeked outside. The entire street had less slush than a 7-Eleven Slurpee.
Freed by school closures, kids played in yards. Traffic was normal. A passing dog paused to pee on a tree and didn’t immediately freeze to it.
#@*&! weather people. Do they ever get anything right?
For two hours, I damned meteorologists. I brought up their dubious parentage, shallow brainpower and obvious genetic shortcomings. I would have continued but something happened.
At 9 a.m., like flipping a switch, the entire world went white. I could barely make out the houses across the street. Snow kept falling. Anxious neighbors started emailing and texting.
“Don’t go outside. It’s instant death.”
“I can’t find my horse.”
“Does anyone have food?”
Snow wasn’t this big of a deal in my early life. We lived in deserts. I was introduced to it when we moved here from California.
I had just gotten my driver license and wasn’t about to let a little snow and ice ruin my newfound freedom. Hadn’t I driven in dust storms, heat waves when asphalt buckled, and the occasional deluge that washed away homes?
A week after moving to Utah, I drove the family station wagon into a ditch. I was lucky to be alive. It was snowing harder than I had ever seen in my brief driving career.
I told the trooper, who investigated the “accident” in short sleeves, that the car was in the ditch because of the snow.
He looked at my California license, the sky, the damp road and then back at me — squinting as if I had just come from another planet.
Him • “Was it just one snowflake or several that caused you to skid?”
Me • “I don’t know. A bunch? Will I need snowshoes to get home?”
Eventually, I became acclimated to Utah. I learned how to handle the worst snowfalls, which was to stay put until the roads were plowed.
That didn’t end my troubles with traffic in the snow. Ten years later, I was the one investigating weather-related crashes.
It didn’t take long to learn the worst thing about snow — that it actually lowers the collective IQ of wherever it happens to be falling.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.