Blizzard axiom: more milk, bread, t.p., the better

MIKE LITTWIN

March 15, 1993|By MIKE LITTWIN

The storm has passed, and it's all over but the shoveling. Oh but it was dicey for awhile.

Personally, I'm down to my last six gallons of milk, 12 loaves of bread and 16 rolls of toilet paper (eight pink, four yellow, four blue). I don't know how much longer I could have held out.

You talk about your close calls.

They say it was the worst storm of the century, meaning most of us were trapped in our houses for ONE ENTIRE DAY!!!!!

No wonder people panicked.

ONE ENTIRE DAY at home? What if you hadn't gotten to the video store? What if -- worst case scenario -- your cable had gone out? What if you had small children to keep entertained?

Yes, this was serious, all right. But confusing.

What really confused me was the pre-snow run on the grocery stores. Apparently, every loaf of bread in the greater Baltimore metropolitan area was sold out by lunch time Friday, when grocery-store shelves came to resemble your basic postcard from Moscow.

Fights were breaking out in lines at the Giant as normally peaceable folk duked it out over the last box of Twinkies. Civilization as we know it had all but disappeared.

OK, so you need bread. Maybe you need milk. But toilet paper? I don't get it.

Do people go to the bathroom more often during a snowstorm? Is it from eating and drinking all that bread and milk? Is it the panic factor?

Or, are there other uses for toilet paper -- like marking the outlines of your street for the snow plow?

All I know for sure is when dawn broke on Saturday, the snow was already coming down and looked like it would never stop. We checked our supplies. Flashlight, check. Batteries, check. Bread, check. Milk, check. "Animal House" tape, check. Shotgun (in case of looters), check. Bathtub full of water. Huh?

Yep, right there on the TV, they were instructing us to fill the tub with water. Why? In case you just really have to have a bath, no matter what?

My wife explained this advice was probably intended for people who live in the country and who might be trapped TWO ENTIRE DAYS. Another point for city living.

There was much to learn from the TV. I turned it on early Saturday for the nonstop "Blizzard of '93" coverage.

Here's what I discovered: It was dangerous to drive in a blizzard. The Bullets game was off. So was the St. Patrick's Day parade. And that Chrissie Johnson's 7th birthday party was postponed -- if only we could have diverted a few four-wheel-drive vehicles headed for hospitals and nursing homes, the Johnson party might have been saved.

Another thing I learned was that I didn't want to be a TV "reporter." What they make the "reporters" do is stand out in the snow and report back to the anchors -- sitting snug in their studios, happily munching on bread and sipping milk without a ** care in the world -- that it's snowing like hell outside.

The idea is for the "reporter" to get someplace that looks as bad as possible. That's why, when it's just a moderate snowfall outside your house, the "reporter" looks like he's on the set of "Dr. Zhivago -- thanks to the giant fan/weather-maker an assistant is holding off camera.

I should give special mention to Channel 2's Norm Lewis, who was in the studio for the entire storm. Lewis, whose forecasts are approved by the Your-Guess-Is-As-Good-As-Mine Society of Meteorologists, would be called on every few minutes for an update. "It's still snowing," Norm would say. He was always right, too.

I watched Channel 2 at 11, and each story led off with "As Norm told you . . ." What were the guys on the other stations predicting -- a high of 90 and bring your sunscreen?

Well, it was quite a day. Carefree kids were busily sledding down hills. Anxious parents were rationing bread. The ACC tournament was on the tube, interrupted by Norm saying, "It's still snowing."

Meanwhile, I had a few things on my mind. Like whatever happened to global warming and just where the heck is Mount Penatubo?

And I developed my own personal survival guide: When it started to snow, I went inside the house. When it stopped, I ventured out.

Seems simple, but you can't argue with the results. And in case you're around for the next storm of the century (you notice they never said what was runner- up?), you can try it yourself.

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