Snowjobbed

The spectacle of the Exploding Meteorologist has been a fixture of New York City winters for at least the last twenty years: the weather reporter breathlessly telling us about the monster snowstorm, which ends up yielding, perhaps, two inches.   Of course, every once in a while, a real snowstorm shows up, and the Exploding Meteorologists do their thing.

But this time, the Exploding Meteorologists were joined by an Exploding Mayor.  Yesterday’s morning news included this item:

Yeah, right, whatever.

I rearranged my schedule to get through my meetings earlier, and walked out of my last meeting at 12:20 pm.

Back in the office, I put on  WINS, the go-to radio station in New York City for bad weather.  I found that the Exploding Mayor had been joined by our Exploding Governor, Andrew Cuomo.  He admonished us, like little children, not to go out in the snow, and ordered all non-essential vehicles off the road at 11:00 pm.

I left the office about 5:00 pm, and had a pretty normal ride home, except that the trains were not as crowded because most people had left work earlier.  Back home, I learned that the ‘travel ban’ also included the subways.  Usually, the trains keep running when it snows, and during NYC’s worst snowstorm ever, in 2006, the subways kept running.  (I know, because I was travelling that day.)

At 11:00, ready to sleep, I looked out the window: there had been a substantial lull in the storm.  So much for the Exploding Meteorologists.

In the morning, my wife noted that the G train was running: we can see the viaduct from our windows.  Slowly it dawned on me: the subways could have kept running, and perhaps did to some extent. But we, as passengers, were not allowed to ride them, by order of the Governor.

The morning news reported that the storm had moved off to the east, and the travel ban had been lifted.  NYC got about a foot, although snow is continuing to fall, and New Jersey got 2-3 inches: hardly worth complaining about.  The subways are starting up and will run on a Sunday schedule for the rest of the day.

In another time, the Mayor and Governor would have declared states of emergency, ordered private vehicles off the roads, and left it at that.  Why did they feel the need to shut down mass transit?

Don’t tell me it was to protect the public: we’ve had many, many snowstorms, and this was the first time it was felt necessary to shut down the subways pre-emptively.  (Usually, in a really bad storm, lines that run outdoors are shut down on a case-by-case basis as conditions worsen.)

Is it a case of liability making cowards of us all?

Were they simply asserting their authority because they could?

Are they getting us in practice for martial law?

Whatever it was, I’m sure it wasn’t good.

3 thoughts on “Snowjobbed”

  1. They erred on the side of caution, which was a better idea than having thousands of people stranded in areas that perhaps the emergency people could not get to.

    This storm was no big deal out here. We got perhaps 8″ of powdery snow.

    Who knows “why” they did it? Your guess is as good as mine.

  2. Two thoughts:
    1. Until now, I’ve taken it as part of my birthright as a New Yorker to be able to travel within Manhattan and much of the rest of the city at will in any weather short of a major hurricane. Now that the precedent has been established, I wonder what amount of snow will result in a shutdown, say, five years hence.
    2. I learned after I had written the post that Governor Cuomo ordered public transport shut down on his own authority a little before 5:00 pm on Monday, without consulting with the Mayor or the management of the MTA. I cannot help but believe he wants the citizenry to get in practice for other perhaps more arbitrary shutdowns in the future. Never let a good crisis go to waste, after all.

  3. And a third thought, that somehow slipped my mind yesterday:

    Earlier Monday afternoon, Governor Cuomo addressed the state and told us all to stay home. He came across as if he were scolding a group of five-year-olds. Now in fact, my plan that night was to go home and stay there. But there have been times in my life when I went out into snowstorms, for one reason or another. On those occasions, I’ve been aware of the danger, taken appropriate measures, and never had a problem. I like to think I’m a responsible adult, and I don’t appreciate being addressed as if I were a snot-nosed kid.

Leave a Reply