Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Snow Day Effect. Or Why the World Goes Crazy Over a Flake of Snow.

It seems that with weather predictions of only a few inches of snow, whole schools, towns and counties go into a state of panic. Grocery stores are packed with frenzied people stocking up on essentials. Seriously people, how many days do you think you’ll be socked in? With modern refrigeration, canned goods and packaged food; you have no food in your house? I have to say, though, that it is fun to watch people in the grocery stores. I am usually there accidentally and not because of the storm prep. Loaves of bread and dozens of eggs plus yummy things like Hostess Cupcakes fill grocery carts. You just have to be more patient in lines if you end up shopping on those days.
Every child would prefer to be king of the mountain on a weekday instead of in school.
So, why is there such a frenzy? I think we can blame it on the butterfly. And the snowball. And the school-aged child. Have you heard of the Butterfly Effect? The chaos theory that says that tiny variations can affect giant systems. Such as the flap of a butterfly’s wings can cause a tsunami half a world away?
Or, when a child hears the prediction of snow and sees the first flake involved with that prediction? They are then unable to think about anything else but having a snow day. Then, that thought, like the beat of a butterfly’s wing, goes out into the universe. Multiply that by a school full of kids. Times a town full of schools. Multiplied by all the towns in a county or in the predicted snowfall area. That energy revs everyone up. Plus, the excitement that TV weathermen add. Whoa. That’s a lot of wing beats.
Even adults love a good day in the snow vs. going to work.
Students' wishes of a snow day rub off on the teachers and staff and then they take it home to their parents. The parents rush out to stock up for the impending kids to be at home. The butterfly effect has just snowballed to giant proportions of a snow day tsunami.
What the morning ride in to school looked like the other day when everyone was hoping for a snow day.

Before the predicted snow this past week, I was telling a friend that most of the local towns might have a snow day. She laughed at me and questioned why I was getting all riled up over 4-6”. “For Pete’s sake, you are from Upstate New York! You learned to drive in Lake Effect snow! You have a Subaru!” Yea. She was right. And New England isn’t that much different. My butterfly rested its wings.

A tiger swallowtail butterfly I took with my cell phone last summer.
How many storms were caused by those wingbeats?

Turns out, there wasn't a snow day anywhere. Even though six inches of snow fell during the night, it was light and fluffy. Crews were able to clear the roads while everyone slept. School came and went. It was like any other day. Hopes for a snow day were dashed and temporarily forgotten. Until snow is predicted again. Now, if only the thoughts of all those kids could actually affect the weather and not just make normally-thinking people go crazy. Crazy over tiny flakes of snow.

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