Death by a Thousand Cuts

Two or three inches of snow every day for two months straight

One of my biggest disappointments came nearly 38 years ago. In Buffalo, they call it the Blizzard of 1977. In Central New York, where I was attending Syracuse
University, they called it “another winter day.”

In Buffalo, the winds topped out at 70 mph and snow at 100 inches, which the wind then blew into drifts up to 40 feet high.Twenty-three people died. If you go to the Wikipedia page about the storm, you’ll find a photo of a house in Tonawanda, my hometown, that’s nearly buried. I spoke on the phone with my Dad, and he’d tell me about drifts up to the eaves, and roads that were impassable for days and the bitter, bitter wind chill.

In Buffalo, it was a once-in-a-lifetime storm. But I was in Syracuse, which was virtually untouched. Ho hum.

It’s all about the winds.

If the lake-effect snow hits Buffalo or its northern suburbs, like Tonawanda, the wind’s coming from the southwest. If the wind comes from the southwest in Central New York, it’s Watertown and Tug Hill getting the snow, not Oswego or Fulton or Syracuse’s northern suburbs. I’m reminded of this, of course, because as I write Buffalo is closing down,with forecasts of up to six feet of snow.

And here … well, I had a dusting on my driveway in Pompey this morning.

We’ll have our chance, of course. But years of living in places like Tonawanda and Ogdensburg and Cortland and Clay and Pompey have taught me this: In Buffalo, they compete for the Golden Snowball by enduring huge, dramatic snowstorms that create nationwide stories of vehicles stranded on the roads. Even the snowplows.

In Syracuse, we compete for the Golden Snowball by getting two or three inches of snow every day for two months straight. Death by a thousand

I long for a little drama.


LarryLarry Dietrich is the Editor-in-Chief of the Syracuse New Times.

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