The eastern seaboard of the US has been hit by a major snowstorm starting last night that is shutting down major cities along the coast, like Washington, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. In Cleveland we are used to a couple of such blizzards every winter but the path of this particular storm was such that it completely missed this area and we have not had any snow at all in the last few days. In fact, the entire winter has seen only about 8 inches of snow so far, when the average by now should be close to 30 inches.
The best advice for people in this situation is to not go out at all if you can avoid it. That is easier for me now that I am retired but when I was working, if a snowstorm hit during a workday, I would stay late in my office until the volume of traffic had died down and the snowplows had time to clear the streets. This was because the streets would be clogged and pretty much at a standstill and some drivers, even in Cleveland, would not adjust their driving appropriately. The main thing that one has to do is to is drive really slow and put the car into a very low gear so that one avoids the use of the brake, and make very gradual changes in speed or direction.
But one thing that always puzzles me are the usual news reports of panic buying in stores just prior to the storm where people clear the shelves of all manner of items such as bread and milk and other staples. I can understand this if you live in a remote area where you might be snowbound for a long time. But in any major city, the city shuts down usually for just one day, on a few occasions two, and perhaps very rarely three.
Could it be that so many people who live in cities do not have food in their houses to last a couple of days? Do they buy their food needs each day? Surely at the worst one has a few cans of soup and crackers and other items in the house to tide you over until you are able to go out again? We are talking about a snowstorm after all, not the apocalypse.
I can understand people who have very specific needs like infants or elderly people or those who are ill and must make sure that certain items are available, but such people usually do not wait until they almost run out before resupplying such critical items. In fact, I avoid the stores just before a storm because I know that the parking lots will be jammed and inside will be packed with irritable people panic buying all manner of stuff and there will be long lines and interminable waits at the checkout lines.
I wonder if stocking up with food is not to satisfy real physical needs but emotional ones, that it gives one a sense of security to think that one could last for a week or more without having to go outside even if the chances of needing to do so are so remote. News reports of other people panic buying may just add to those feelings of insecurity and spur one to do the same.