, Newburyport, MA

February 8, 2013

Need a snow job here, not in D.C.

Bill Plante's
North Shore

---- — There’s only about six weeks of it left, but make what you might about the open winter weather we’ve had in recent years, we may actually get a decent snowfall from what has been forecast for this weekend.

While there has been meaningful snow, it has been south or west of us, and I celebrated my birthday — never mind which one — on Monday by perambulating around Old Town Hill for something less than an hour and there wasn’t a sign of the deep winters we haven’t had for some time.

I grant there’s a mixed reaction to that because of the lack of snow-related jobs.

This is our second year of winter letdowns for those who count on snow removal to help pay the piper.

There are also those in city and towns trying to keep budgets balanced who can’t count on yet another snow-deprived winter, but hoped this might be.

Their counterparts are those who depend on snowplowing or shoveling who will be at considerable loss if February’s weather is like January’s.

I asked my son, Andy, who lives just south of the Onion River outside of Montpelier, Vt., what they had been getting for snowfall and learned it was very light there for the second year in a row, but they, too, will get their share of what’s in store for us this weekend.

What’s unusual is that our winter weather pattern is replicated in the Montpelier area. Even Vermont’s ski country’s snowfall in its western regions has been less than usual.

As for snow jobs and their interrelated economies, those we send down to Washington to run the country weren’t able to resolve the over-the-cliff economic threat until it was too late for the regular income tax mailings to go out.

That, no one needs, because refunds will be late as well. How late depends on when we file. According to those who know about such matters, they could be something like a month late for the earliest filers.

A year ago there were something like a 103 million filers. Half earned less than $30,000. Needless to say, the less we earn, the more we are dependent on refunds, and so are those to whom we owe money. Dealing with that is going to make for something more than considerable dissatisfaction for everyone involved.

Such problems as rise out of the combination of too little snow and too late tax refunds are a mixed bag. What they share is our inability to do anything at all about either one, even though there were signs early on that we might.

On the other hand, we’ve been living in a political stalemate long enough to have been able to forecast nothing but this kind of trouble in the making.

Weather forecasters were reasonably accurate concerning southeasterly states, but late for what was foreseen for much of New England. We are supposed to have had fairly heavy snow in January and could — maybe — unless — whatever — have some in February.

All things considered, the government performance relative to the economy and expectations related to more familiar weather hereabouts have a lot in common.

Ours is not to reason why. Just keep your shovels and your checkbooks handy.


Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and staff columnist. His email address is