John Kelly's Washington: Prepare for the snow apocalypse

John Kelly
Washington Post Metro Columnist
Friday, December 18, 2009; 12:00 PM

Post Metro columnist John Kelly was online Friday, Dec. 18, at Noon ET to chat about the people and stories that don't make the front pages, plus his latest columns.

Today: Milk? Toilet paper? Chat? Prepare for the coming snow apocalypse with John Kelly.

Here comes the snow: A survival guide

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John Kelly: Here's something you don't see every day: Look at this sea of pink. Basically you, me and everyone we've ever known or loved is under a Winter Storm Warning. And get a load of this certainty, taken from the National Weather Service's Washington Metropolitan Area Forecast: "SATURDAY...SNOW. ADDITIONAL SNOW ACCUMULATION OF 4 TO 8 INCHES.

HIGHS AROUND 30. NORTH WINDS 15 TO 20 MPH. CHANCE OF SNOW NEAR 100 PERCENT."

When do you ever see a chance of anything put at near 100 percent?

I offer

a few tips on surviving the coming snowpocalypse,

but I'm afraid they constitute fiddling while Rome burns. If you haven't already sold your house and moved to Florida by now, you're doomed. This is the big one.

What is it with Washington and snow? It's the precipitation we love to hate. We overreact--except, of course, when we underreact. There probably is no way to emerge from a Washington blizzard intact. Close the schools and we moan. Leave them open and we howl. Let snow- or ice-covered branches take out the electricity and we rail at Pepco. Cut down those trees and we rail louder. And then there's the way we drive....

It was ever thus. Here's how The Post covered the aftermath of storms in

2003

,

1983

and

1979

This afternoon, before we're blanketed in a snowy white mantle, share your Tales From the Wintry Mix. Could this blizzard bump the Redskins from our thoughts?

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Milk and Toilet Paper: Where I grew up it was milk and bread for the coming storm...but when I moved to the D.C. area, I started hearing the toilet paper thing. I've said that to other people, and they just look at me funny, trying to figure out why anyone would want to stock up on any of the above items.

I don't really get it myself. I do my grocery shopping once a week (unless I forget something or leave it off my list and have to run out for some random item). I'm more than well stocked on TP all year-round, and I usually get milk every week, and bread as I need to. Those are things I'm not likely to run out on, unless my husband decides to have make a pile of toast and drink the full gallon of milk (not unheard of).

Anyway, I'm just curious what items other people think are utterly important to stock up on for an impending storm. I can't say there's much I specifically look for, since I take of what I need on a weekly basis, and in this area at least, snow doesn't last that long.

John Kelly: You're right, of course, but humans do not behave rationally. We become gripped by a kind of mass hysteria. Perhaps we like the communal experience of all being at the

Giant checkout at the same time.

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Run for your Lives!!!: Run away! Run Away! Run Away!

John Kelly: Apparently you'll be fine if you run to Pennsylvania. The storm appears go stop at the Mason-Dixon Line.

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Bowie, Md.: I already have plenty of milk, bread, TP and cookies, shovels and ice melter at home. But I feel the need to run to the store after work and get SOMETHING! What should I get?

John Kelly: Something really weird. Or an odd combination of things. It really messes with the cashier's mind if you get, say, anchovy paste, Woolite and condoms. They have no idea what you're up to.

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Reston, Va.: John, what to do? I won't be able to leave the office untill 6 p.m. -- won't the entire world be out of toilet paper by then?

John Kelly: Yes, it will be going for $80 a roll on Craigslist. Gangs of toilet paperless thugs will be going from home to home, ransacking powder rooms. It will make "The Road" look like a Disney film.

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Bawlmer: Kind sir -- In snowy weather, I tend to spend time baking; there is something wonderful about the combination of snow falling outside and the smells of food inside. But what should I make tomorrow?

- Soft pretzels and beer

- Cinnamon rolls and Irish coffee

- Christmas cookies and spiked eggnog

Thank you for your input; I'm really at a loss here.

John Kelly: Well, chatsters, what do you think? I see benefits in each possibility. In fact, I think you could structure your entire day around a warm oven: cinnamon rolls in the morning, pretzels and beer in the afternoon, Christmas cookies and spiked egg nog in the evening. Bon appetit!

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Arlington, Va.: I'll admit it, I went to the grocery store before work today (along with a large number of people). I did notice a lot of people buying milk, bread and TP. Personally my staples are a good bottle of red wine, some chocolate and a steak. Can weather any storm with those treats. Not sure why more people don't hunker down and relax with a good glass of wine, or beer.

John Kelly: What, no Woolite?

That sounds like a nice triumvirate. It has all your major nesting food groups: protein, sugar and alcohol. I hope you get that steak cooked before the power goes out. OF course, there's always the fireplace.

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Out of the frying pan...: into the fire.

I'm driving up to Buffalo today. Buffalo, the town where people don't buy milk and toilet paper when it snows.

John Kelly: What, they just stop? They drink Pepsi and cross their legs?

Drive carefully.

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Arlington, Va.: This is my advice, as a Pennsylvania native who's pretty seasoned in the art of snow management.

Surviving snow is so much easier than you might imagine. It mostly involves common sense, really: driving much slower on the roads, realizing that your two-ton vehicle can be prone to slipping and sliding and thus maintaining a greater awareness of your road, NOT slamming on the brakes as soon as you begin to slide, and keeping an ice-scraper and shovel at the ready (trust me, a dust pan and brush won't be anywhere near enough to clear the snow off your car).

I think most people seem to forget that driving on snow is not the same as driving on a clear summer day. The conditions are more onerous, but not at all unmanageable. A sensible amount of caution goes a long way.

John Kelly: And don't forget to clean the snow off the roof of your vehicle. Do it ASAP, when the snow is soft and powdery. When it melts and refreezes it turns into a big sheet of death that at speed comes flying off the roof with dangerous results.

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Grammar Q: On TV there is an ad for an asthma medication, which you may have seen recently. One man says "I've had asthma forever."

Is that correct, or is it "I've had asthma FOR forever"?

John Kelly: I consulted ace Grammar Guru Pat Myers, a former colleague of mine from here, and this is her response: "No, you wouldn't say 'for forever.' 'Forever' means, well, 'for ever' -- it has the 'for' built right into it, literally."

Thanks, Pat!

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Herndon, Va.: Hi John: I don't mind the snow so much, it's just that it's coming at SUCH an inconvenient time. What's a procrastinator to do? Gift certificates from the Safeway?

John Kelly: The timing is bad, isn't it? I feel for retailers trying to perk up sales in this economy. Here it is the last weekend before Christmas and shoppers may be socked in. We'll just have to cram our shopping into Tuesday and Wednesday. That's what I'm going to do anyway.

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Traveling tomorrow? : Hi John,

A dear friend is in D.C. from London and was heading to NYC tomorrow afternoon. Is it best to send her packing tonight before we get buried? Or do you think intercity buses and other transport will continue to function? This is DC so I fear I know the answer, but need to ask.

John Kelly: I'm wondering the same thing, from the other direction. A British friend of my daughter is coming on the Bolt bus tomorrow afternoon. I just called Bolt and they said they monitor what local authorities say, as far as travelability on the roadways goes. If they have to cancel a trip they send an e-mail or text and put something on their Web site.

I think in the case of your friend, they should leave tonight. Is it supposed to snow in NYC?

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Washington, D.C.: How are snow removal services gearing up for this? Are they going after the major throughfares first and are they laying salt down this evening?

John Kelly: That's typically what they do. If live well off the beaten path, down some twisty road or on a cul-de-sac, we will see you in April.

If you live in the District you can track where the snowplows are by clicking on this nifty

DDOT link

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Diapers: Maybe I should buy diapers (not that I have kids) and sell them to the neighbors at a premium. Or I could be nice and bake them Christmas cookies. Dilemmas, dilemmas. Maybe I'll just watch the new Star Trek.

John Kelly: Party at Diaper Boy's house!

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McLean, Va.: "anchovy paste, Woolite and condoms"

Ooooh. So/that's/what you were studying at Oxford. There's a series running at Slate about/those sorts/of English clubs.

I prefer the good old-fashioned American Way. Baby Oil and Scrabble.

John Kelly: I believe "Triple Word Score" is in the Kama Sutra.

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Cleveland Park, Washington, D.C.: The only negative thing about this snowstorm is that it's happening on the weekend. Here's hoping this isn't the last of the season, and that the next one starts coming down late on a Sunday evening (preferably when the next day isn't my off-day).

John Kelly: My high school-age daughter can't believe the injustice of it all. A perfectly good snow day, possibly wasted by a storm arriving on the weekend. But it sounds like stuff may still be messy on Monday. Delayed opening, mayhaps?

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Gaithersburg, Md.: I moved here from Atlanta 12 years ago. The people here are worse about running to the store, the milk, bread, and TP thing than anywhere in the South. The schools down there don't close as quickly or as often either.

Eggnog (with or w/o spirits, your choice) should be added to the list of staples need to ride out this storm . . .

John Kelly: You've suddenly got me hungry for eggnog and I don't even LIKE eggnog. What IS eggnog anyway? Eggs and...what? Nog? Do I really want to drink nog?

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Snowpocalypse: We ran out of toilet paper this morning, so I have a legitimate reason to go grocery shopping, but I will be lumped in with all the crazies buying out the bottled water supply. SIGH

John Kelly: I hope you show up on Fox 5 above a graphic that reads, "Snow Mania: Panic Shoppers Clog Stores."

Maybe you should carry a note from your doctor: "This is not snow-induced mania. This person actually NEEDS toilet paper."

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New Haven, Conn.: Up North, we stock up on the basics too -- gallon jugs of hearty burgundy, some soft cheeses, and IKEA furniture (to use as kindling).

John Kelly: I love the smell of burning Expedit bookcases in the morning.

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Boulder, Colo.: Maryland native here who now lives in a state that can handle a foot (or three!) of snow. My advice on what to buy: Red Wine Chocolate Cheese A deck of cards or a board game (in case you lose power)

Enjoy your White Christmas!

John Kelly: Thanks. I have a feeling it will probably be a bit gray by the time Christmas arrives.

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Bowie, Md.: Serious question: I'm booked on a 6 p.m. flight tomorrow (from Dulles). Should I even try to go there, or are the airports like the schools here, so they'll shut down just before the first snowflake hits the ground?

John Kelly: I think the airports try their hardest to stay open. Definitely check before you go out there. I would think that by then they should have a pretty good idea how the storm is impacting their operations.

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Madison, Wisc.: COMPLETELY clear your car of snow, and especially make sure the headlights are clear. Oh, and turn them on -- it will be pretty hard to tell the difference between a stopped car and a moving car. Also, throw some collapsed cardboard boxes into your truck, to put under your wheels for traction if you get stuck. Throwing a shovel in your trunk isn't a stupid idea either. Of course, you don't need any of this advice because going out before the roads are clear is just plain stupid, unless you or a loved one are on fire or have lost a limb.

John Kelly: Advice from our nation's snowy midsection. Thanks!

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Elkridge, Md.: John Kelly: "And don't forget to clean the snow off the roof of your vehicle. Do it ASAP, when the snow is soft and powdery. When it melts and refreezes it turns into a big sheet of death that at speed comes flying off the roof with dangerous results."

When ice and snow froze on my Chevy Sprint's roof, I could drive down the road, knowing that it wouldn't fly off at any speed.

Then I bought my Pontiac Sunfire, and assumed that this would hold true for it too.

Wrong. The first time I drove it out on the highway with a cap of ice and snow, the wind lifted it off of my car in one piece. As I watched in horror in my rearview mirror, the car behind me zig-zag-ed to avoid it. They did avoid the sheet of ice, but it must have been exciting.

After that, I cleared the roof of snow.

John Kelly: What do you expect with a "Sunfire"? It must be hotter than the Sprint, melting the molecular bond and releasing the sheet of snow.

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Chantilly, Va.: I bought new snow boots, got the snow shovel out of the shed, and filled the car's gas tank, all guaranteeing that the storm will miss us completely. No need to thank me, y'all.

John Kelly: Snow boots? Ruh-roh. I knew there was something I needed. I had the same pair for 20 years but got rid of them last yer. Will hiking boots do?

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Not Dave Barry: I would normally endorse the earlier poster's plans to make soft pretzels and beer tomorrow during this snowpocalypse. But, sadly, the fermentation of beer takes more than several minutes and beer begun brewing on Saturday would not be ready to drink, even by the desperate, before the New Year.

So bake pretzels tomorrow but run by a store this afternoon and buy beer to go with the pretzels. I suggest Yuengling -- it's from Pennsylvania, which would be doubly appropriate because they make pretzels in Pennsylvania and because Pennsylvania and pretzels both start with "P."

Of course, when you drink beer you often finish with... (I'll let you all fill in the punch line at home so that the nice chat producer's head doesn't implode.)

John Kelly: A vote for warm, crusty, salty pretzels. I think a nice chewy ale would keep me warm.

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Harumph.: It's no fun when people who aren't from here make fun of how we react to snow! Go back to New England or Hotlanta! Let us panic grocery shop and snowslide in our cars in peace.

John Kelly: When I was in college I had a job delivering photos from a photo processor to its various locations around D.C. (Colorfax, if anyone remembers them.) We drove Pintos at first, then we upgraded to...Chevettes. One snowy day I was in Cleveland Park, in that neighborhood across from the Uptown, behind where Club Soda used to be. There's a road that loops back there, each end intersecting with Connecticut Avenue.

Anyhoo, I'd always heard how cars slide in the snow but I had never actually slid. The road was fairly wide so I as I went into a turn I hit the brakes hard. I instantly realized this was a bad idea. It's an odd sensation being in a car you have no control over. I came very close to sideswiping a bunch of parked cars. I will say that steering into a skid actually works.

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Frostyville: Can we stop perpetuating the bread-milk-toilet paper snowstorm myth please? This is a creation of local TV stations, which hype every storm (and everything associated with it). As your own paper reported a few years ago, John, toilet paper doesn't make the hoarding cut.

John Kelly: You are right. Here's the nut graf from Paul Farhi's 2005 story: "Milk certainly qualifies. And bread, too. But toilet paper? Toilet paper doesn't really belong in the holy grocerial trinity of every snow panic."

He checked with grocery stores and proved it.

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Central Iowa: My small city had 15 inches of snow last week...we are still digging out. My employer closed for the day, so I wrote Christmas card letters and wrapped gifts. Good luck with your snow bonanza.

John Kelly: Thank you. And I'm happy to hear that your boss closed for the day. We here in Washington always hear that the rest of country can deal with snow while we go to pieces at the slightest flake. I'm all in favor of prudent closures. I mean, who doesn't like a snow day?

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washingtonpost.com: A Tissue Of Lies (Post, Dec. 6, 2005)

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Egg Nog: REAL eggnog is lots of real eggs, cream and booze (brandy, rum, whisky); it will knock you on your noggin.' I have the best recipe I use REAL eggs and no one has yet died from salmonella because of it -- I beleive the amount of alcohol kills the stuff, or at least leaves it too intoxicated to be dangerous (the salmonella germs that is)

John Kelly: What, no Woolite?

I wonder who had the idea to invent eggnog? The Scandinavians, probably. A Danish friend once introduced me to something called

glog

. I woke up four days later with a splitting headache and a strange tattoo.

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Here Comes the Blizzard ... er, Bride: I'm supposed to be at a wedding tomorrow morning. Eep. While I'm sure it's a nice day for a white wedding, I'm wondering how on earth I'm going to make it to the non-Metro accessible service and reception.

The current plan is to latch my friend's Beagle to a sled, Grinch-style, and scoot across the winter wonderland.

As for supplies, my bags include milk, ramen, Triscuits and Spaghettios. Plenty of wine and beer at home, thankfully.

John Kelly: According to the Weather Service, it looks like the accumulations by Saturday morning will be in the neighborhood of 1 to 3 inches. But then it says "additional snow accumulation of 8 to 12 inches." I suppose if they really zip through the vows you might be all right.

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Asthma forever: Sorry to be a total nitpicker, but although I know what's meant by "I've had asthma forever," the literal meaning of the statement represents an impossibility, since it implies a time period extending back from the present infinitely far into the past. At least I hope it's an impossibility -- I wouldn't want to suffer from asthma THAT long!

John Kelly: Yes, but we can only have true knowledge of that which we've actually experienced. My "forever" is different from your "forever." But we shouldn't be surprised by a little hyperbole on a TV commercial.

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Springfield, Va.: Really enjoying the banter here!

When I was in 4th grade here, we had a foot or so of snow fall on Veteran's Day, 1987. The schools were completely unprepared and remained open until finally calling an early closing at the last minute. Unfortunately, the roads soon became impassable for the buses and some kids were stranded overnight in the school. After the predictable public outcry, Fairfax County has tended to take the completely opposite approach ever since. As you mentioned earlier, area schools are damned either way!

Do you have a link to the Post coverage of the 1996 Blizzard, when the D.C.-area got 2 feet (the most in about a century, I believe)?

John Kelly: As a matter of fact: 1996 Blizzard.

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Tampa, Fla.: NO SNOW in our forecast (Tampa, Fla.) through and including Tuesday, the 1st FULL day of Winter (And my Birthday)

To pass the time, the D.C. Snowbirds, can play TV Station BINGO. News reports that have:

1.) A reporter (usually Pat Collins) standing on a corner with a yardstick measuring the snow 2.) reporter at the grocery store showing us that milk/bread/tp are all gone 3.) reporter at an ABC/beer liquor store, with the clerk there telling us how brisk sales have been. 4.) reporter doing a piece saying METRORAIL is running (but service is reduced due to the snow) 5.) reporter telling us that METRObus and other suburban transit providors is running limited service, on main streets only. 6.) reporter showing us minor fender bender traffic accidents 7.) children sledding down snowy hills 8.) medical reporter reminding us that even in the snow, all the shoveling outside, can lead to heart attacks. . shovel in moderation (or hire a teenager) 9.) pictures from The White House & possibly the 1st family 10.) Pictures from Sunny & Warm Clearwater Beach Florida (Temps on Saturday will only reach the mid -- upper 60's CHILLY for Florida)

Be Safe, bundle up and enjoy

John Kelly: Great idea. Do a shot of eggnog every time you fill a row on your Bingo card.

I always wonder how many fenderbenders are caused by people rubbernecking to look at the TV crews that are out on the street corners to get footage of...fenderbenders.

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Laurel, Md.: I suggest that people rush to Giant this evening and buy mangos, sanitary napkins and motor oil. Another possible combo would be olives, laxative medication and the Washington Post!

John Kelly: The Washington Post goes with anything. And if you run out of toilet paper....

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Increasing snow accumulation: Yesterday, the forecast was for for up to 5 inches. Now, per the The Weather Channel site:

Windy with snow, heavy at times. Cold. Temps nearly steady around 30. Winds N at 20 to 30 mph. 8 to 12 inches of snow expected.

Wonder how different the forecast will be later tonight?

John Kelly: Anybody got a pool going? The person whose estimate is closest to the actual snow accumulation at National, Dulles or BWI gets to shovel my walk.

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COMPLETELY clear your car of snow: In the last snow event I saw someone driving down the road with a clear spot in the front windshield that was about 8 inches wide and 4 inches high and directly in front of the driver's head. Every other window was still 'completely' covered in snow. Therefore, the only thing he could see was whether there was anyone directly in front of him that was about to be rammed. Arrrrgggghhhhh

John Kelly: Doncha love those people! I mean, come ON. Don't be that person.

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Pentagon City, Va.: John, from my office window, you should SEE the line of cars trying to get into Costco for the jumbo roll of toilet paper! I have never seen anything like it, backed all the way up to Army Navy Drive. Priceless.

John Kelly: Do you think the media is perhaps being irresponsible?

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Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Our flight to California leaves at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow from BWI. We'll drive our 4-wheel drive vehicle to the airport. What are our options? What if the weather is so bad we can't get to the aitport? Do we lose our tickets? If we get there and flights are cancelled, what happens? We have two small kids travelling with us.

John Kelly: I asked Post travel writer Andrea Sachs what she thought. Her response:

"they could drive but a better way might be to take amtrak, then catch the shuttle to BWI (its pickup is across the street from the tracks). otherwise, they can park in a long term lot and get a shuttle. or i like econopark, because you don't have to wait for a shuttle; they are right there.

if they miss their flight because they are late, then the airline will rebook them on another flight. most likely, there won't be a charge, but these days you never know. if they think they will miss it, call the airline to let them know and to have them rebooked on the next flight. if the flight is delayed/cancelled due to weather, they will be placed on the next available flight. best to call before you leave, to be sure it's on time and/or not cancelled."

Good luck!

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Gaithersburg, Md.: To Harumph: If I could move back to Atlanta from here, I would have done so already!

Homemade Eggnoger: Post recipe please!

John Kelly: You've got us all thirsty.

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Los Angeles, Calif.: I lived in D.C. during the 1996 blizzard. Lived with 2 roommates, and we each had a guest over who got snowed in. We DID run out of toilet paper!

John Kelly: That's when you wish you still had the Sears catalogue.

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Toilet paper doesn't really belong in the holy grocerial trinity of every snow panic." : But it is the one thing in the grocery store I REALLY can't do without. Milk? I'll just drink OJ. Bread? I'll just have soup. TP? I am NOT roughing it.

John Kelly: As they say: Better safe than sorry.

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Apparently you'll be fine if you run to Pennsylvania. The storm appears go stop at the Mason-Dixon Line. : Ahh, so this is God punishing the South for losing the Civil War? I declare the name of this storm, "Lincoln's Fury."

John Kelly: I like that:

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the snow:

It is covering the houses where the toilet paper's stored;

It hath loosed the fateful snowflakes of His terrible swift sword:

The plows are marching on.

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Richmond, Va.: There have been times I've rushed on the way home to stock up in case I'm snowbound: on books at the library!

John Kelly: To read, right? Not in case you run out of TP.

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Mt. Lebanon Pa.: You think you got snow? Valdez shrugs as snowfall tops 6 feet (Anchorage Daily News, Dec. 18, 2009)

I can't count the times my plane has been turned back trying to land in Valdez: even when flying in a Dash 8. Tight little community nestled in mountains with an ocean access. Talk about dumping snow: some of the road boundary sticks are 20' tall.

One time, I had to hitch a ride out to get back to Anchorage; that's an 8 hour drive if the roads are't closed by avalanche/s.

A little dusting of confectioner's sugar on our nation's capital? Fuggitaboutit!

Thanks much.

John Kelly: It's all relative. What's 6 inches in D.C. is 6 feet in Alaska.

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Holiday Drinks: I like eggnog, non-alcoholic of course, but the best holiday drink has got to be wassail. Very few people seem to know about this wonderful conconction, but my mom started making it at some point, and it's great! It's basically a bunch of fruit juices, like pinapple, orange, apple (or cider if you want), and a handful of cloves thrown in. Then the whole thing is left to combine for about three days. I'm not so big a fan of the cloves, but the rest of it delicious! Everyone should go find a recipe and make some...and it can be spiked, for those who wish to.

John Kelly: Is that where we get the expression "to go a-wassailing"? Basically it means to have a booze-up? No wonder those merry Gentlement had to rest.

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Your very own 'nog: A collection of eggnog recipes that should meet your needs: Eggnog Recipe Collection

John Kelly: Thanks. Remember: Don't drink and drive.

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Southwest Florida: This is the one time of year I wish I was still on the Eastern Shore. We'll think of you while we're on Sanibel tomorrow.

John Kelly: And come Monday we'll probably be thinking of you.

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Skidding: One year, after it had been cold, but most of the perciptation had gone away, we were in a random parking lot, and there was a small patch of ice on the ground. My roommate at the time was driving, and he saw the little patch of ice, so he purposely drove over it, then hit his breaks, actually making the car skid a short distance. It was very artful, and we were probably luckly no cars or people were nearby. Of course, that's a mild driving story about him...

John Kelly: We would probably all benefit from some first-hand experience in dealing with skids. Of course, going to a proper facility, with an instructor showing you what to do, is the better way to go.

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Eggnoggin: Just buy it at the store while you're picking up dog bones (rawhide eats up a lot of energy from a housebound Boxer), air freshener (see the above) and candles (see above again).

You can't make eggnog for what it costs -- a dozen eggs and a quart of milk and you're already behind before you pour in some liquid warming from Kentucky.

John Kelly: I am on the record as being anti-candle. Too easy for them to burn your house down. Beano for the boxer.

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AU and GW alum --: I have an idea to assuage all guilt for being a TP-buying crazy -- give a roll to your local school, whether you have kids or not, because all donations are appreciated and former Mayor Williams did his best to keep school open on snow days so parents who are paid hourly could go to work rather than stay home to make sure the kids were OK on an unexpected day off.

John Kelly: Good idea. I remember when we had to send our girls in with a box of Kleenex. Every kid brought them in and they lasted the year.

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Actually,: It's Diaper Girl. What? I am a geek and proud.

John Kelly: Noted.

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Minneapolis, Minn.: Here I was hoping to make fun of all of you for overreacting to a forecast, but it looks like you're getting hit with quite the storm. Good luck!

As for bizarre provisions, I was diagnosed with mono about a week after I finally recovered from H1N1, and the day before our most recent giant dump of snow a week and a half ago. The day of the fall I sent my girlfriend to the store for two boxes of popsicles and some Kleenex.

John Kelly: When someone from Minnesota is wishing us luck, you know it's going to be bad.

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Arlington, Va.: One good thing about not shopping is that I will have to eat all of those Weight Watchers/Healthy Choice dinners that I had previously stocked up on in a fit of optimism that I would actually eat them.

John Kelly: Does it defeat the purpose if you eat a whole case of Weight Watchers meals at one sitting?

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Boston, Mass.: Wimps...

John Kelly: Hey, we may drive badly in the snow, but you guys drive badly ALL THE TIME. Don't try to deny it.

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Come on over: I'm distributing warm hugs for the cold, cold days ahead. One per person, please.

John Kelly: Now that's something you can't get at Costco. Except, I believe, in Nevada.

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Kensington, Md.: I have lived in the D.C. area almost my entire life, and I still cannot believe the way people drive during a snowstorm, especially on the Beltway. Why do they think they can maintain the posted speed? It's gotten to the point where I refuse to drive in this area at all when it's snowing because obviously the brain freezes before the roadway here. Will everyone who is reading this PLEASE try to use a little common sense? Thank you.

John Kelly: We seem to leave some common sense behind when we get behind the wheel of a car in a snowstorm. Let's try to keep our wits about us, folks. Car cleared, lights on, and go slowly--or better yet, stay home.

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Arlington, Va.: People thought I was crazy when I sowed the back half of my yard with wheat, put a cow in one half of my shed, and put a small paper mill in the other half.

Since I will not be leaving my bunker today or tomorrow to purchase bread, milk, and toilet paper, who is the fool now?

John Kelly: What tremendous planning!

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Washington, D.C.: I LOVE snowstorms in the city, Dupont Circle is one big party.

My question is, I find the snow romantic, but I'm currently single.

What to do?

John Kelly: Get your car stranded nearby someone who looks promising. Or look around for someone promising to dig out.

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John Kelly: Well folks, I think that's all we have time for. I hear the sound of the evacuation helicopter on the roof of The Post building, preparing to take me to a Caribbean hideaway. Good luck with the storm!

Please remember that my

Children's Hospital campaign

needs your help. Consider making a tax-deductible donation.

And before I forget,

here's a disturbing video

of a dog that doesn't like walking in the snow.

Stay warm and stay safe!

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