Thursday, February 11, 2010

New York Blizzard

Even before the storm came, on the day BEFORE it was all supposed to descend on us, in anticipation of the monster storm, everything was set to close. The public schools and most colleges and universities closed, transportation services were suspended, businesses were scheduled to start late, to get ready for the big blow - the white-out that would halt everything. Better to prepare everyone ahead of time, even if the worst didn't occur, better to keep everyone at home, whether or not the predicted snow arrived, rather than deal with the chaos that results when people go into school or work and then get trapped inside inhospitable institutional structures, unable to escape, because of severe weather.

Thus, the Mayor declared at 11:00 AM on Tuesday that the New York City Schools would be closed on Wednesday in anticipation of a major snowstorm. Not long after that, the New School University announced it would be closing on Wednesday. That Tuesday afternoon, sometime between 3 and 4 PM, Wagner College notified everyone that it, too, would close on Wednesday. One by one, they all conceded that Wednesday was a lost cause. Shut everything down, stay at home, work online, which is pretty much where you'd be anyway, whether at work or not. So was it worth it? Was it a good bargain to close it all down in expectation of that killer blizzard?

As I write at about 11 AM on Wednesday, the answer appears to be yes and no. There is enough wind and snow to warrant these closures; it would have been tough to get around. But, frankly, at least from the vantage point of 69th and Amsterdam in Manhattan, not all that bad. A fair amount of wind but still surprisingly little snow accumulation. Other days, where no closures were even entertained, have been considerably worse. But, hey, this is the best that could have been done, given how uncertain and unpredictable meteorological science remains. And just think how much pressure there is on the Mayor to keep parents satisfied. If the storm had panned out and schools were in session, families would have been quite upset. By preempting such anger and by creating the good will that comes from declaring a snow day in which everyone enjoys the privilege of imagining the good time they'll have (which is at least half the fun), the Mayor and Mr. Klein, the Chancellor of the Public Schools, come out looking pretty good. So let's call it a reasonable decision and thoroughly enjoy that day off.

Footnote: On the day of all the closures, tickets to a number of ordinarily popular plays were available on the TDF site, where educators and others can get special discounts. We thought it amusing that most of these tickets were gone almost as soon as they showed up on TDF, no doubt grabbed by all those Manhattanites who walk or travel by public transportation. We were not, unfortunately, one of those lucky Manhattanites.

No comments:

Post a Comment