By Craig Hastings
Can you believe it? It snowed in Tuscola as predicted. I think I read where this past Saturday’s snowfall (8 inches) was the largest single event accumulation of snow here since the winter of 2005. However, we are all aware of how often the experts have publicly forecast 4” plus snowfall accumulations over the past 13 years. So what happens every time “the big one” is forecast to us common folk? Food panic, right!? And let’s not forget the gas tank top off and a blanket in the car for when the storm is upon us either. But let’s talk about these precautions and break them down a bit as they apply to my everyday travels.
First and foremost I had come to the conclusion that even when forecast, Tuscola wouldn’t see the snow predicted, if any at all. Up until two years ago I was one of the sheep, one of the believers, one of the majority that would follow the herd and run to the store(s) and buy three of everything that I only needed one and one of everything I would probably never use or eat. I think, at least here in Central Illinois, people get excited in the anticipation of snow storm events. We think that even though blizzard like conditions are dangerous; their arrival is also very exciting to anticipate. We get to compare “What did you buy” storm lists with our friends in conversations. And if you happen to be the one in the conversation that didn’t buy enough or forgot something, you then get to make another emergency supply run. And if you’re the one that pointed out to your friends they missed something, like 2 gallons of milk instead of 5, then you get to crown yourself king of the snow emergency suppliers. An honorable title for sure, right?
Me, one gallon of milk will last until the expiration date in my house. A loaf of bread lasts me a week. I have canned food in my cabinet left over from a winter storm warning 5 years ago that never materialized. What else do I need? Buttered bread, milk and one of my 6-month-old cereals will sustain me for weeks. If I run out I could grab a screwdriver and a hammer and open up one of those chicken noodle soup cans in my cabinet that will still be there in 2025 if I don’t get snowed in between now and then. Let’s talk about being snowed in. Just how long ago was it that anyone around here has been snowed in more than a day or two? Snow removal equipment is so much better today, and there is certainly more of it available. I remember ice being a bigger threat than snow. We don’t see much of that anymore either. Ice can take our electricity out for days but, take a look back at my survival foods. Milk I can put outside and my bread and cereal are good in any temperature. I’ll make it.
How about that gas topper warning. Is that for the traction of the extra weight or is that for when you spin off the road you can stay warm until the next person who shouldn’t be out driving happens along and picks you up? Me, I certainly don’t need to top my tank off because if I get fair warning that I shouldn’t travel, then by god I’m staying home. And since my car is home I won’t need the extra weight for traction in the snow I won’t be driving in. Same goes for the blanket stock pile. I won’t need blankets to in my car, because I’ll be home. I’ll be keeping my blankets inside the house in case the power goes out and I don’t have heat. Was the blanket warning for the people out driving around in the snowstorm who didn’t heed the tank topper warning? Is it they will need the blankets to keep warm when they get stuck and run out of gas? Maybe.
It’s 12:10 a.m. Sunday, and Shannon has to work tomorrow, and I don’t want to wake her so I’ll be sleeping in Payton’s bed tonight since he’s at his mothers. It’s a trip down memory lane for me. I used to lay with both boys when they were little and talk about these “storms.” The snowstorms I would usually embellish a bit to make the night more exciting for them. We would talk about all the possible what if’s associated with a snowstorm. We would discuss and plan for what we were going to do if this, that, or something else were to happen and we were cut off from the world for a few days. Again, as many times that “the big one” never happened it never changed our conversations when we bedded down for the night and lay waiting in anticipation.
Those were the days when dad’s could save sons regardless of the threat. It’s a difficult walk for me because I’m laying in the very same bed, in the very same room that I did in 2005-2011 with my boys on those storm nights for both thunder and snow. I’m surrounded by much of the same room décor that has been in this room since their births. I won’t and don’t change it because there’s no reason for me to. I rely on their mother to keep their rooms at her house decorated with all the things that keep teenage boys feeling hip and up to the times of their generation. Me, I’ll keep their early 2000’s bedrooms the way they’ve always been and live in the past with my boys for as long as my mind remembers.
I have one more “are you kidding me” preparedness suggestion. Some suggest a portable battery powered police scanner might be a good idea to have around to keep up on what may be happening close to you. Okay, maybe not a bad idea if for nothing else it might be exciting to listen to during the storm event. I worked late Friday night. When I came home Shannon had my police scanner out and on the kitchen counter. I asked her why she was listening to the scanner, because I was just on duty and she was calling me on the hour every hour to see if I had learned anything new. Her reply to me was, “Well, if we’re going to get 12 inches of snow I want to know when it happens!” “Are you kidding me?” I said! “Do you think the sky is going to open up and just drop 12 inches of snow on top of Tuscola in an instant?” “Twelve inches of snow will take some time and for sure you’ll have plenty of time to watch it accumulate.” We both broke out laughing. Shannon had fallen victim of the exciting snowstorm anticipation virus going around Friday and Saturday. At least she was home and without her gas tank topped off, no blankets in her car, and the same food in the cabinets as we had the night before the last one.