Snowpocalypse Now

Yesterday, the nation's capital witnessed a former centerfold become a senatorand a furry national treasure defect to China, but the big news wasn't Scott Brown or even Tai Shan - it was Snowmageddon.

After suffering through a December blizzard that shut down the city and its public transportation system for several frozen-solid days, residents were whipped into a frenzy at reports that the district might be ground zero for another massive winter storm.

Meteorologists said the front could bring anywhere from 12 to 24 inches.
From the way the city reacted, you would think it was expecting 12 to 24 inches of molten lava.

School districts announced closings a day in advance and offices prepared to operate with skeleton staffs or not at all. Hardware stores sold out of shovels and some taxi companies stopped taking reservations ahead of time.

Emails went unanswered as co-workers spent the day trolling weather websites for the latest updates and passing around a link to the newly-established domain which when typed into a browser flashes the word "PANIC!" across the screen in big red letters.

And panic they did.

At grocery stores, Washingtonians ripped items off shelves faster than adrenalin-laced contestants on Supermarket Sweep.

Both the 17th Street Safeway and the Foggy Bottom Trader Joe's had bread and egg lines reminiscent of communist Russia.

The toilette paper aisles were stripped barer than a pop star at the Grammy's.

But the Soviet Safeway and Trotsky's Trader Joe's weren't the only spots Washingtonians went to stockpile supplies.

The cold war really took on a life of it's own around the corner at the P street Whole Foods, where employees closed the doors in a desperate effort at crowd control.

Overrun by yuppies seeking whole grain ciabatta and organic toothpaste, the store was reduced to admitting people in small groups at specific time intervals.

"The checkout line wraps around the store twice," shouted a Burberry clad young man as he emerged from the controlled exit, victoriously clutching two recyclable bags full of hard-fought fois gras, or whatever.

The growing crowd outside the store eyed his acquisitions enviously and checked their watches. Some had already been waiting almost 20 minutes.

It was like a nutritional night club, with throngs of unlucky wheatgrass wannabes stuck on the wrong side of the velvet rope.

Some dug in their heels and waited for the doors to open, others gave up and headed home, forced to wait out the impending storm sans soy milk.

Those who didn't have the fortitude to forage last night, made desperate dashes to the stores this morning. If predictions are correct, it might be their last chance for a while, unless they own muklucks and a team of huskies.

The city government has pledged that the roads will be passable by Monday, but is imploring citizens to set down their car keys for the weekend.

The only escape from cramped condos and overpriced studios, will be on foot.
Maybe residents will once again take to the streets to enjoy Monumental sledding and snowmen shaped like bickering congressional leaders.

Maybe they will organize another twitter-fed snowball fight that will end with an overzealous cop brandishing his firearm.

Maybe this really will be snowmageddon, and the frosty fallout from the atomic blizzard with burry the city permanently, triggering the next great ice age that will bring about the end of all humanity and the cancellation of American Idol.

Or maybe we will just get a few flurries, get stuck inside in for a day or so, and then get over it.

It's only a snowstorm people.

  • Christina Ruffini

    CBS News correspondent