Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Stark contrast

I had to drive from Philly to Harrisburg on Sunday, into an oncoming snowstorm. The weather was fine when I left Philly, but the weather services knew exactly where the storm was and where it was going.

Sure enough, about 30 miles outside of Harrisburg, the flakes started dropping.

But about 50 miles our we passed something you would never, ever see in Oregon. Every few miles on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, there were snow plow trucks, loaded with salt, idling alongside the road waiting for the snow to fall heavy enough to get started!

This was a SUNDAY!

Back east, it seems, the prevailing attitude is that people do important things and therefore it is important not to allow a little snowstorm to stop everything.

In Oregon, it seems, the attitude is that there's nothing going on here so important that would require going out of our way to keep snow from preventing it. We have become such a small time place, and it took a trip back east to remind me once again.


Mick said...

It snows there many times every year so it is necessary to invest in the equipment, people and time necessary to clear the snow when it comes. Here, it barely snows once every year so the investment would largely be wasted.

What we really need is to work out an exchange/sharing program with another city where it barely snows. Of course, that city couldn't be in close proximity which would mean transporting the equipment quickly enough would be impossible.

Star Trek transporters, where are you when we need you??

Rob Kremer said...

The point, however, is that the attitude here is that we shouldn't do anything special to get the snow off the roads. No salt, no real preparation.

I totally agree that we can't afford to be as prepared as the east coast. But what would a little salt hurt, once or twice every two years?

Anonymous said...

That's actually a good point, Rob. There are some who believe that if it's too expensive or too much trouble, government shouldn't bother. I'm more in the camp of having government do little things when they're really necessary, even if they can't do everything. Our government seems to have a bias towards inaction, and a bevy of quality excuses - mostly environmental - for why they can't/won't act.

Mick said...


I'm not a big fan of the gravel that they use here (it really messes up the bike lanes for months), but I can tell you that there are many disadvantages to salt. In the Midwest, where I come from, it's rare to buy a car that is 20 years old. Most are rusted out and worthless by that age simply because of the salt.

Aside from that, there may be environmental concerns about salt. I'm just postulating - I don't know that for a fact.

However, to say that our local government is guilty of inaction during snow storms is pretty unfair, I think. All the arterials near my neighborhood were cleared the day after the big snowstorm this year.

Also, as I understand it from news reports, many of the crews were prepping for the snow the night before it came. TriMet, on the other hand, seemed completely unprepared as they sent buses out without chains. In general, they strike me as completely clueless when it comes to understanding how the weather will affect their services.