A New American Tradition: Snowstorm Hyperbole

By Rebecca Greenfield

Last February, a big snowstorm hit the mid-Atlantic, covering major metro-areas like DC and Philadelphia in 2-3 feet of snow. Cities unaccustomed to such massive snowfall didn't really know how to handle it. Sans proper plowing and snow removal equipment, streets remained undrivable; sidewalks unwalkable; and most areas completely shutdown. This inability to handle the snow physically translated to an inability to handle the snow psychologically. What a place accustomed to snow -- like Buffalo or Winnipeg -- might refer to simply as a blizzard, suddenly became an occasion to freak out. News and weather outlets began referring to the storm in hyperbolic terms: Snowpocalypse, SnOMG, Monster Storm. Even President Obama, in a speech at the Democratic National Committee Winter Meeting, referred to the extreme weather as Snowmaggedon.

Since then, as more big snowfalls have drifted through not-so-snowy parts of America, freaking out has become a normal response. As the country prepares for another big one, here's a look at our new winter vocabulary. 

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/02/a-new-american-tradition-snowstorm-hyperbole/70587/