williamthomaswBy William Thomas

If you watched CNN earlier this week, you would have thought it was the giant King Kong himself descending upon New York City instead of a winter storm.  They opened with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio instructing his citizens to stay home.  Then he closed the New York subway system and called in 7,000 soldiers from the National Guard.

Then they cut to New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo ordering all public transportation to be closed.  Cuomo then banned driving in 13 counties and declared his candidacy for president.

Standing in front of her Manhattan office and bundled up like an Inuit baby, the CNN anchor Erin Burnett described the oncoming onslaught of snow as:  “Monstrous!  Unprecedented!  Horrific!  Grotesque!” Erin was apoplectic, which means more expressive than a New York City cabbie stuck behind a rickshaw.

They cut back to Mayor de Blasio solemnly anointing the storm as “historic.”  Erin Burnett, who had described the storm as “horrible, horrid, horrific, horrifying” but not “historic” fired her producer.

At the top of the hour, as she turned the show and “the storm of the century” over to Anderson Cooper, Erin Burnett was still spewing storm hyperbole and verily gesticulating.  Although I’m not certain as to the meaning of that word, I’m pretty sure she got some on Anderson.

Earlier, Wolf Blitzer interrupted his now 326-day personal search for that missing Malaysian airliner by caulking the windows of his Situation Room to keep out the drifting snow.

Meanwhile, over at Fox News, Bill O’Reilly claimed that, although he could not factually pin the source of the storm on President Obama, there was no question that it began in several Midwestern states that were predominantly Democratic.  Connect the dots, he said – when word of the storm first leaked, President Obama boarded Air Force One and took off for India … with his wife.  Coincidence?

Back over to CNN where Wolf Blitzer predicted New York City would be locked down and hermetically sealed until late spring when the Navy Seals would arrive by sea to conduct a comprehensive body count.

Trust me – I watch way too much news – the storm closing in on the Big Apple was a bigger story at CNN than the ultimate demise of 11 hideously deflated footballs.  As far as this network was concerned, this storm, which hadn’t yet materialized, was nothing short of Hurricane Katrina cleverly disguised as Snow White.

Everybody in the evening news business, even the three big national networks in New York City, were giddy over the approaching white apocalypse and they kept insisting it needed a name.  Maybe “Snow Storm Dandy” to match “Hurricane Sandy.”  “Snowfall Skyfall?”

They should have named it “The Blizzard of the Six O’clock News” because all that got dumped on and damaged were the egos of on-air celebrities and the over-active imaginations of ecstatic meteorologists.

When the snow storm finally did take shape, it sideswiped New York City with less than ten inches of snow and carried on up to New England where people would treat it with respect and shovels and snow plows, instead of hot air and hysteria.  Sadly, New York City had to bow to Boston and cancel their ticker tape parade that would have included a 141-foot ball drop.

In Buffalo, 10 inches of snow is called a “dusting.”  On November 17 last year, Buffalo got hit with a storm that paralyzed the city with six feet of snow in just a few hours.  Roofs caved in, many people were trapped in their cars, 4,000 houses lost power and every man, woman and child in that city was absolutely outraged that …. that the game between the Bills and the New York Jets might be canceled.

A storm that most certainly deserved a name?  January 12, 1888 started out as an unusually warm winter’s day in the Midwest with melting snow and dripping ice.  Then an Arctic blast sped in from Alberta clashing with a warm front from the Gulf of Mexico, causing a cataclysmic, atmospheric train wreck.  The temperature dropped … you need to sit down for this one … 18 degrees Fahrenheit in just three minutes.  Striking Montana, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Minnesota like iced lightening – the Midwest was frozen in temperature and time.  Heavy snow, high winds, blinding white-outs and 40 degrees below zero in both Fahrenheit and Celsius saw hundreds of people frozen to death, mostly children trying to get home from school.  The official death toll was 235 but they believe almost 500 people died.

Now that’s a storm— a historic storm worthy of a name.  Two names actually. According to Wikipedia, it was called the Schoolhouse Blizzard.  According to a terrific book by American author David Laskin, it is known as The Children’s Blizzard.

And while we’re putting name tags on everything — are we not “The Most Spoiled Generation Ever?”  Just askin’.

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