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Snowpocalypse: setting the record straight

The neologism making the rounds this winter is snowpocalypse referring to the big snowstorm that hit the east coast. The Lede a blog at the New York Times, attempted to track down the origins of the word snowpocalypse. They tracked it back to Seattle last year, and a few other places in 2007 and 2006.

But they didn’t really find the origins.

Someone on the Seattle Livejournal Community wants that community given credit for Snowpocalypse. And they certainly have a case for popularizing it during last year’s snow storm, though the Stranger’s Slog and other popular local blogs had a lot to do with it. But the term goes further back than that.

DCist claims they first used it. In 2005.

But they are wrong. Searching even further back I found a post by sea_colleen at Seattle Metblogs that used the term Snowpocalypse a couple weeks before DCist did. I didn’t use Google to find that. I knew it where it was because the origins of the term have come up before, and I know the term had currency in one Seattle group before 2005.

Seattle Metblogs sea_colleen is Leenerella on Livejournal, and she was an active participant on the old Seattle Gothic message boards, hosted on ezboard. The word was used there a lot in the 2002 to 2004 time frame to refer to the local media’s hyperbolic coverage of various snow events. They’d imply that the city would shut down, but then we’d get ¼ inch of snow and life would go on. If we did get any snow, King 5 would send Danger Jim Forman outside to report from the most blustery location he could find.

I don’t know who first used the term on Seattle Gothic. I don’t know where they stole it from or if that person coined it herself. But the folks there have a better claim than the other pretenders.

Sadly, little remains of that message board. The moderators pruned message threads, particularly little content ones like Snowpocalypse!. Ezboard moved it from server to server, and lost oodles of discussion threads in various crashes. Versions of it were hosted by members both before and after it was on Ezboard. Ezboard became Yuku and some archives are there. The Wayback Machine has a few posts archived.

Edited to add: Found a couple other references from Sea-Gothers that pre-date DCist’s claim. Here’s Prince of Happiness, another Sea-Gother, using snowpocalypse in December 2005 as well. And a snapshot from the Wayback machine of forum topics on Seattle Gothic from January 2005, one of which is SNOWPOCALYPSE 2005!!1ONE!!!ELEVEN!1!!.

Cross-posted from King Rat

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7 comments or Leave a comment
bork From: bork Date: December 24th, 2009 03:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I totally remember that. Complete with the poking fun at Jim Foreman part.

We've invented a word!
poh From: poh Date: December 24th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC) (Link)
wire_mother From: wire_mother Date: December 24th, 2009 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
good lord. we (meaning SeaGothim) are trendsetters.

i think i'm going to be sick.
tiff_seattle From: tiff_seattle Date: December 24th, 2009 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
yeah but who started snowmageddon?
rwx From: rwx Date: December 24th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I (or a couple other people) may have been the person who brought it to the Seagoth board. I remember hearing it all the time in Chicago in the early 90s -- it was a UChicago saying.
gkr From: gkr Date: December 24th, 2009 07:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
One interesting thing is the context about the word. When used last year in Seattle and this year for the east coast, the term refers to actual snowstorms that caused major problems. If I'm guessing correctly, that would be the context in which UChicagoans used it, as Chicago actually gets real snow more than once a decade.

But during the period that it was in use on Seattle Gothic, it was primarily used in a mocking context when we didn't have snow, or so very little that the media hype was amusing. That's the same context Colleen and Anthony used it in the posts I linked, and possibly Tiffany's too (I haven't looked up her posts).
rwx From: rwx Date: December 24th, 2009 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
About the same context there. The south side of Chicago is plagued by inconsistent lake effect snows and UChicago *never* closes.
7 comments or Leave a comment