Ross: The snow is gone, but the storm continues

Jan 20, 2022, 5:30 AM | Updated: 10:07 am
Stevens Pass, snow...
Crews clear snow and ice and complete avalanche control at Stevens Pass in January 2022. (Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Twitter)
(Photo courtesy of WSDOT/Twitter)

One of the essential functions of snow storms in Washington state – probably in other states, too — is to give us one more reason to get angry at the government.

And I understand why. Of all the things that nature throws at us, snow should be the easiest type of weather to control. The rain escapes by slipping down storm drains, the wind knocks out your power then disappears … but snow – snow just falls and then sits there, daring you to move it.

So, of course, we expect something to be done, and when it’s not done, we want to know why.

Which brings us to the case of the New Year’s snow storm which, at one point, closed all the passes and isolated the east from the west.

There is a still a raging discussion about whether the governor’s mandate to dismiss unvaccinated DOT workers was the reason the state was cut in two.

The Washington State Department of Transportation says every state has staff shortages and that the real problem was just the sheer size of the storm.

They point out that it was so big, that even Montana had trouble clearing the roads! And Montana doesn’t mandate anything, except that you get the heck out of the way when someone wants to pass you.

But that’s the problem with mandates. They’re mandatory. And so, people follow them even when changing circumstances make them look stupid. In this case, the mandate meant removing perfectly healthy truck drivers who could otherwise be safely sitting alone in their trucks plowing the road. Even if it didn’t really make a difference, it’s the perfect target for blame.

But there is a bigger issue to consider as well. Which is, as much as we like to think politicians should be able to control everything, the truth is nobody really controls anything.

I notice when 20 miles of I-5 flooded in Centralia, we just accepted that. Nobody said, “hey, where were the water pumps?” Or “hey, who was the genius who decided that was the perfect place to build I-5 …?”

People just waited for the river to clear itself out.

Well, the moment you decide to build an interstate highway through a mountain pass, you’ve pretty much guaranteed the day will come when it’s going to be impassible. And the only way to protect yourself … is to make sure you’re not governor when it happens.

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Ross: The snow is gone, but the storm continues