A blizzard on the prairie

If a blizzard doesn’t hit the Twin Cities, is it still a blizzard?

This is a tough time for the news media which, understandably and justifiably, gets criticized for making things sound worse than they really are. “Mother Nature is going to throw everything she’s got at us,” KARE 11’s anchor announced last night, shortly before throwing it to the weatherperson standing outdoors with an umbrella even though it wasn’t snowing or raining, and ignoring that earthquakes, volcanic disruptions, floods, tornadoes, and drought weren’t in the forecast.

So when we look out the window in the Twin Cities and see gray skies and drizzle, it’s easy to give them a little shot for their hyperbole. The problem is, it’s a big state and — cover your ears, Twin Cities — there’s more to it than just the metro. And this particular blizzard really is bad — and I guess newsworthy — for the people in the northwest and west-central part of the state. For example, the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Minnesota State Patrol have closed Highway 210 from Fergus Falls to Breckenridge in the last few hours. I-94 from Moorhead to Fergus Falls is closed as is the stretch from Fargo to Jamestown, and Highway 10 from Moorhead to Lake Park. (See other road closings)

It doesn’t appear the blizzard is going to affect the Twin Cities, leaving those of us who lamented the prospect of another snowstorm feeling just a little — admit it — left out of the excitement.

  • “admit it — left out of the excitement.”

    I’ll cop to it.

    I grew up working in radio in Jamestown and Carrington ND during high school and college. And there is nothing in the world quite like working a heavy-weather shift in a small-market radio station on the prairie. During tornado warnings and blizzards, you *were* the center of the world.

    When I was in high school, blizzards meant money to me; I lived closer to the station than anyone else, so if the full-timers got snowed out, I could hike the four blocks to the station and do the shift. And it might as well have been NORAD during an alert; the ozone, the adrenaline and the sense that what you were doing actually *mattered* to people were overwhelming.

    And cool!

  • Bob Collins

    I’m there with you, Mitch.

    One of the highlights of my life was working in a small radio station in Massachusetts the day a snowstorm shut all power off to the county and, for some reason, kept our little radio station on the air.

    So there we sat for 14 hours, just taking calls and talking to people. I remember one woman whose infant was on a respirator or heart monitor thing — I can’t remember which — who called. A person with a generator and a 4 X 4 was listening and called in to help and we put the two in touch.

    At one point, Gene Shalit called. That was kind of cool, too.

    The power didn’t come on for quite awhile but when I came back to work the next day, there were dozens of bouquets of flowers in the station lobby. People were THAT grateful.

    I kind of miss those days, and that excitement. We didn’t have to exaggerate back then. (g) Radio used to be so relevant it’d make you cry.

  • sareen

    One winter in Morris, I spent many evenings digging people out of huge snow storms. They went into the movie theater on a perfect winter day and came out to two feet of snow. It is amazing how much snow can build up out there on the prairie. I miss it and am sad that the snow is missing us this time.

  • Bob

    I, too, served in small-market radio — I was a news reporter/news director in the Upper Peninsula in the before times. And you know what the winter weather tends to be like up there. Ugh.

    Unlike you and Mitch, I recall zero enjoyment from having to get up at 4:00 a.m. in subzero temps to go on the blizzard beat.

    I did take pride in my work and felt that it really mattered, but adjectives like “cool” aren’t the first that come to my mind when I recall my “Blizzard Boy” radio days.

    And I have to say that I don’t share your let-down about being left out of the current blizzard. Let’s go, global warming!

  • Bob Collins

    //Unlike you and Mitch, I recall zero enjoyment from having to get up at 4:00 a.m. in subzero temps to go on the blizzard beat.

    Heh. I’ll take that over getting up at 4 a.m. and having to stop at the local police station to ask what happened over night. They were always such a cheerful lot. (g)

    Bob, you obviously don’t have a snowblower. (g)

  • momkat

    Dadkat would have loved working in a radio station during a blizzard. Instead he was a computer guy who once in the 80’s skiied from Eagan to Bloomington, yes, across the Cedar Avenue bridge, after a blizzard to get to work. He spent a few hours answering the phones, “no, we’re closed” and got a ride home with the other crazy person who showed up out of the 200 co-workers.

  • Chris Douglas

    Uh, besides the metro Twin Cities, what exactly is there? There 12 people or so (it doesn’t really mater how many really) living in outstate MN and the bears and deer don’t mind snow, so bad weather really only impacts metro dwellers. Oh and before you feel too left out, it has started snowing quite heavily in downtown Minneapolis now….LOL

  • Bob Collins

    Yeah, it’s a pretty snow. Nice big flakes. It ain’t no blizzard.

  • beryl k gullsgate, Greater Minnesota

    …Once called Mpls. home yet, whenever I hear someone calling the upper part of the state “out-state” I can only assume, the rest of the state – like Twin Cities and points south – are then certainly, appropriately, “lying-in-state”, eh?

    R.I.P. on “out state”…the correct point of referance is “Greater Minnesota”.

  • Bob,

    I kind of miss those days, and that excitement. We didn’t have to exaggerate back then. (g) Radio used to be so relevant it’d make you cry.

    I miss ’em too.

    As to relevance, though; being in flamin’ right-wing talkradio now, there’s a connection and relevance (to our audience, anyway) that comes close. Ya hadda be there, of course.

    That’s worth a post, actually…

    The Other Bob:

    adjectives like “cool” aren’t the first that come to my mind when I recall my “Blizzard Boy” radio days.

    Well, I was in high school at the time. Factor that in.

    Although I was working at a Twin Cities country station during the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 – and while it wasn’t the same, I did get a little of the old buzz.

  • Hannah

    I only feel left out because I’m a Concordia grad – and they get school off today! When I was there (a whole year ago …), I was under the impression that nothing short of the book of Revelations would shut campus down.

  • bsimon

    “admit it — left out of the excitement.”

    That’s twice in three days.