When I used to read about blizzards hitting North America and how dangerous they were (back in Switzerland) I always thought that Americans were exaggerating a little. And I didn’t really pay any more attention to the subject until I experienced my first ever blizzard ever TODAY. And Spoiler Alert:
It was a creepy and scary experience.
Before I go into more detail on how my day went down, a few facts first (mainly for the ignorant European reader that is reading this and thinks I am exaggerating).
What is a blizzard?
Officially, the National Weather Service defines a blizzard as a storm which contains large amounts of snow OR blowing snow, with winds in excess of 35 mph (about 56 km/h) and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile (about 400 metres) for a period of at least 3 hours. When these conditions are expected, the National Weather Service issues a “Blizzard Warning”.
I was supposed to go volunteering on Friday but it got cancelled because of the “Blizzard Warning” for Thursday. I even remember telling Philipp how surprised I was about it. It seemed ridiculous to me to cancel work because of a few centimeters of snow. We’re talking about ca. 25 centimeters of snow. Every Swiss mountain village inhabitant would laugh out loud.
But boy, LITTLE did I know what was really about to happen.
What makes a blizzard dangerous?
Driving in your car can become difficult or even impossible due to “whiteout” conditions and bad visibility. Blizzards also can cause power outages due to strong winds and heavy snow. Pipes can freeze and regular fuel sources may be cut off. In short, they’re not the best.
What my personal Blizzard experience was like
For whatever reason I thought it would be a good idea to quickly go out to get something at a Whole Foods close by (about a 20 minutes walk).
Well, let me tell you. It was a very dumb idea.
I stepped out of the house first thinking, ‘oh, this is going to be fine’. Nothing spectacular, just a bit of wind and snow.
10 minutes into the walk I noticed how EMPTY the streets were, literally empty.
Streets that usually are packed with cars are empty. With the rare bus or post vehicle passing as if it was lost. I might have passed a total of 3 people on the walk there. 2 of them out with their dogs and not feeling too happy about it. You can tell by how people move somehow. Person 3, a woman, was obviously caring a bag of Trader Joe’s groceries. When she passed me, she made eye contact, nodded knowingly and smiled at me.
As if we were two accomplices, secretly being out, when obviously we SHOULDN’T.
20 minutes into the walk I couldn’t barely see anything in front of me anymore because of the wind blasting snow from all directions into my face.
I might never have been happier about recognizing the Whole Foods sign from afar. Next weird thing: The store was EMPTY, the parking space, too. Something I had never seen before. It was kind of creepy that there was only a handful of people wandering around such a huge store, while the snow storm was going on outside.
I entered the store and made a shocking discovery when I looked into a mirrored glass. My mascara was all over my face. From all the squinting and snow blowing in my face, I guess. It seemed like had been crying for hours. Damned blizzard.
Let me tell you, it wasn’t a good look.
At the till a woman was in front of me. Picture a maybe 60 year old friendly lady, long grey hair, wearing fleece hippy-type clothes and a scarf in purple colors. She must have been an arts teacher or teacher for kids with special needs. Maybe she felt like she had to talk to me because I looked like an abused victim and she was feeling pity for me. Or maybe she’s just a good American and she likes to do small talk.
Could have been both, I’m not sure. She started telling me how important it was to have a bit of chocolate (good, dark, organic one of course) every day and how she thought men couldn’t appreciate that the way women do. While I couldn’t really say anything about that I thought it would be appropriate to tell her I was Swiss (see how I’m trying to be good at small talk, gotta pull all the cards you have) and she was so excited about it. She then exclaimed ‘we’ll you’ve been born with it (it being chocolate)’. The young man behind me jumped into the conversation as he had been overhearing us and just said, ‘well, we called it (being chocolate) vitamin c at home so we also had to have our daily dose’. The hippy woman looked at him smiling happily.
That was the only good moment of the whole trip to Whole Foods because the way back home was a disaster. The photos don’t really do it justice, you’ll find a little video at the end, which might give you a better idea.
Lesson learnt today: Don’t go out when there’s a blizzard. It’s just not going to bring you any good. There’s a reason that stores, schools and restaurants are closed.