D.C.'s annual winter black eye

Thursday - 3/13/2014, 2:00am EDT

It's been a tough winter in much of the country with perhaps a record number of weather-related government shutdowns in a record number of localities.

The temperature hit the 70s in Washington, D.C., yesterday. Today's forecast is sub-freezing temps for most of the day. Go figure.

Usually when D.C. (home to 14 percent of the federal workforce) shuts down nonemergency operations, the rest of the nation either boils with anger or howls with laughter. This year, in places that know how to handle bad weather and places that don't normally have it, everybody had a hard time.

Atlanta suffered big-time ice and snow gridlock. Charlotte and Columbia got unexpected weather and in the Midwest and Northeast, where people can handle bad weather, there was almost more than they could handle. Federal offices in central Michigan closed all but emergency operations.

A 25-year veteran with the IRS near Detroit said he had "never seen anything like" this winter. Schools closed which, he said, is rare.

Although the bad weather hit nearly half of the nation's population — from Maine to Texas — Washington, D.C., again took the heat. As in ridicule. News anchors from Los Angeles to New York City chuckled that a little bad weather could "close" the U.S. government in the nation's capital.

The winter of 2013-14 "is exceptional for a couple of reasons," a retired federal official said:

"Obviously the weather was terrible in a lot of places. I don't remember a winter this bad and I've been in Washington for 40 years. The other things that changed are the popularity of teleworking and the realization by management that you don't bring people in for two hours, then send them home. And you don't release people early because of what that does to traffic patterns...recent OPM directors have stressed the safety issue and this year, in particular, it has worked well."
Another high-level retiree had this comment about the outside-weather-reporting on Washington's government "shutdowns."

"A week ago Tuesday, NBC Nightly News did us all an injustice here in the D.C. Metropolitan Area. Brian Williams said the D.C. area got 5 inches of snow and the government was closed. I can only think that many, many viewers outside of the D.C. area think that the government workers here are soft and treated that way. I think [he] should have given complete information of what developed. You and I and everyone here knows that we had very heavy rain, then sleet, the temperatures dropped, ice formed, and then all the snow landed on top. That makes for a very dangerous recipe on any street, road, or highway. Staying home was the correct decision. Just a thought." — G-Man

NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

Contrary to popular belief, the lifespan of the common housefly is more than 24 hours. Houseflies typically live for 15 to 20 days, with some old-timers reaching the ripe old age of two months.

(Source: Mental Floss)


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