Snow sissies to winter warriors

February 10, 1994

This is mere speculation and we have no guess as to how long the transformation will last, but we sense that Old Man Winter's relentless pounding this year might be having one positive offshoot: Marylanders seem to be getting hardier.

In the past, when Maryland would experience its one or two winter storms, the panic that preceded the precipitation was palpable. Buy toilet paper. Buy perishables. Abandon ye vehicle. Even if one had not been glued to the radio or tube for the latest update, the sight of barren bread racks at the supermarket betrayed the forecast.

But lo and behold, you can find food at your local grocery these days (windshield washer solvent may be another matter, but the absence of that product doesn't conjure up Armageddon terror like depleted toilet paper stocks.) Maryland motorists, annually criticized for their winter driving ineptitude, even seem to be adapting: During Tuesday's ice storm, rather than relinquish their vehicles along the interstates, they took their time and got home safety but for a couple of bad accidents.

One National Weather Service forecaster said he overheard a cash register conversation in which the people longed for snowstorms instead of all this ice. When was the last time you heard a Baltimorean appreciate snow? Our region, in fact, has experienced as many ice storms in the past six weeks (five) as in the past three years combined. Our precipitation has been about a third above normal and last month was the sixth coldest in Baltimore history (and it would have been worse but for the drippy clouds that insulated ground temperatures.)

We're not claiming that Marylanders have become nonchalant about winter weather. But the spirit of the season seems to have calloused into an almost good-humored resignation -- much better than white-knuckled panic.

Maybe we don't need (American) football to regain our machismo after all.

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