Did C-Mart announce a clearance sale on natural disasters? Somebody obviously did, because Wednesday evening the region got socked by a snowstorm that provided twice as much commuter paralysis for half as much precipitation as either of last year's "snowmaggedons."
For those who woke up Thursday without power and wishing bodily injury to all those TV weather people who failed to accurately forecast Wednesday's especially inconvenient thunder-snow event, just be grateful that you didn't spend the night on the Jones Falls Expressway or the side of some other road. Plenty of your neighbors did.
Jackknifed trucks, abandoned vehicles, gridlock on major highways — the Wednesday evening commute had all the charm of the Battle of the Bulge without the tanks. Come to think of it, a battalion or two of armored vehicles would have been really helpful on portions of Reisterstown Road.
Officials within the State Highway Administration and local public works departments say the problem wasn't with them but in the circumstances of the snowfall. That the heaviest wintry precipitation came at the peak of the evening commute certainly put the storm in a category apart from last year's record storms, two of which were considerate enough to come on the weekend.
Let's count the excuses from the agencies that claim they had as many workers and machines on the roads as they ever do: The storm was preceded by rain that washed away salt on the roads. Heavy traffic and multiple accidents, some featuring tractor-trailers blocking entire thoroughfares, made it impossible to get equipment where it needed to be. Downed trees and power lines blocked access to many alternate routes.
But mostly it was a matter of a heavy snow falling rapidly, along with mercury readings, at the worst possible time and without the kinds of warnings that major storms following a more reliable track (with predictable air temperatures) customarily garner.
Admittedly, that places the blame squarely on the Almighty, who is probably used to a certain amount of unfavorable press after such events. But before Baltimoreans do some serious shaking of their collective fists at the heavens, it might also be wise to look a little closer to home.
How many of us made some bad choices, from employers who might have dismissed their employees earlier in light of the storm to commuters who either drove too aggressively or erratically for the weather (or in vehicles incapable of traversing more than an inch of snow) and homeowners without the emergency supplies of water, flashlight batteries and other necessities that disasters require?
Last year's storms probably caused many of us to think we had seen the worst Mother Nature could throw at us and planned accordingly. This week's snow simply demonstrated how wrong we were.
Perhaps all of us, from the SHA on down to the average commuter, ought to take a second look at our preparations and consider whether they are adequate before the next storm shows up unexpectedly at our doorstep. We'd include Jehovah in this instruction, but it has been this editorial board's experience that he is frequently unmoved by our critiques.