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Doug Clark: Real-time updates will tell you your street isn’t being plowed

Once again, winter is poised to crush the entire region like the anvil that falls on the dumb coyote’s head in all the Road Runner cartoons.

But exciting news broke last week.

Mayor David Condon announced that the city of Spokane will be fighting back against whatever horrors winter might throw at us with the snowcial media: a mighty barrage of texts, tweets and, if all else fails, Facebook.

That’s certainly comforting.

Although if I were in charge, I’d pump what civic resources we’re blowing on this stuff into a lower-tech solution like monogrammed shovels for each council member.

Then, on snowy Monday nights, I’d order council members to grab their shovels and head for the door.

“And don’t come back until the whole downtown’s cleared,” I’d yell. “And no lollygagging or cigarette breaks.

“That means you, Fagan!”

True, the mayor’s “winter readiness schedule” (aka City of Chills) is a lot more sophisticated.

All that texting and tweeting, for example, will inform residents instantly about plowing activities, such as when drivers bury a resident’s garage access under 6 feet of ice and snow.

DRIVER 1: “Just avalanched the Clark driveway.”


Or …

DRIVER 3: “Entering Browne’s Addition. Many fools still parked on streets.”

DRIVER 4: “Unleash the tow pirates.”

Using the snowcial media will also keep residents instantly apprised of vital developments, like which coffee shops plow drivers will be loafing at when they’re supposed to be out scraping your neighborhood.

It should work pretty well. The mayor said he got a real deal from the same folks who designed the Obamacare website.

For convenience’s sake, the city is also dividing snow events into three basic stages with recommendations for what to do.

STAGE ONE: It’s cold outside. The sky is gray. Snow is expected to fall soon.

Have an extra cup of coffee, light a fire and call in sick, especially if you drive a snowplow for the city.

STAGE TWO: Six inches of snow have fallen. More is coming down. You look outside your window and see that your neighbor just stuck her ’72 Buick Electra in front of your house.

Duck. Turn out the lights. The last thing you need is to hurt your back helping that old bag.

STAGE THREE: Four feet of snow is on the ground. The city has turned into a frozen wasteland.

Mayor Condon advises residents to stay in their homes and check the city’s “winter readiness” website for survival tips and recipes on how to eat their pets.

The city will also be using local television to issue snow alerts, although that sounds totally unnecessary.

This time of year our TV weathercasters are already jumpier than Toronto Mayor Rob Ford after a crack break.

For no apparent reason, weather reporters act as if they’ve been beamed here from the Sahara Desert and have never experienced cold weather or seen snowflakes.

Suddenly, they start babbling incoherently about “white stuff” and “arctic air inversions.”

Just once I’d like to see a station manager interrupt this nonsense and make the following announcement:

MANAGER: “Hello viewers. We here at KRZY-TV would like to apologize for how demeaning our weather reports have been lately.

“There’s no reason for us to be constantly treating our audience as if you are all too stupid to know that winter comes to Spokane every year.

“Or that you’re too dumb to go outside without wearing a warm coat or a good pair of boots.

“In conclusion, we’re truly sorry for filling our precious airtime with endless footage of cars sliding down icy Freya.

“Well, this winter we’re going to change. We’re going to use the time we normally waste on our winter weather reports for more meaningful seasonal content, like airing reruns of ‘White Christmas’ and ‘Bad Santa.’

“Thanks, and see you next spring.”

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at