Arctic rush left grocery store shelves empty

Survival instinct rush evident as residents stock up for cold
Jessica Cuffman
Jan 7, 2014


Customers swarmed local grocery stores and their parking lots before the impending arctic front hit Northern Ohio Sunday night, bringing winds that created subzero temperatures.

After clearing shelves, Register readers holed up at home to escape the blustery weather Monday, giving in to their survival instincts and perhaps just good sense with snow emergencies and closed employers throughout the four-county region. At Kroger stores in Sandusky and Port Clinton, bottled water, bread, eggs and toilet paper flew off the shelves this past weekend as people prepared to hide away from the storm.

“Those are the areas where customers will see the shortages the most,” Jackie Siekmann said Monday, spokeswoman for Ohio Kroger stores. “They were very, very busy this weekend, with a high volume of customers coming through Saturday and Sunday.”

Employees were working to restock shelves across the state, but Level 3 snow emergencies across the northern part of Ohio kept some dairy supply trucks waiting at the Michigan border for the go ahead to finish their deliveries, she said.

“We do have teams working around the clock to try to get product to their stores,” Siekmann said. “The bottom line is, the shelves will be spotty the next few days.”

Areas further west, including Indiana, were hit harder than Ohio by the winter storm — ultimately effecting third-party suppliers such as General Mills and Campbell’s that shut down production temporarily.

Traffic snarled in parking lots at Walmart, Meijer and Kroger this weekend and lines at cash registers flowed into the aisles at times.

The pattern of stocking up before snowstorms is partially instinctual — but also cultural, said Hogan Sherrow, assistant professor of biological anthropology at Ohio University.

“From an evolutionary perspective, these behaviors do make sense to survive,” he said. “I think the impulse makes sense. I can see from a revolutionary sense that those in the past, our ancestors who stocked up survived.”

But our choices at the grocery store pre-snowpocalypse aren’t always so practical.

“There’s more of a cultural influence to this,” Sherrow said. “The thing that always kills me about what people buy from the store, is it isn’t always completely rational.”

Grabbing a loaf of bread during your pre-storm visit to the store? That makes sense. Other choices, maybe not so much.

“Having six gallons of milk if the power goes out isn’t going to help you,” he said.

Forecasters predict continuing sub-zero temperatures and wind chill advisories today.

Be sure to check for updated listings of closings and cancelations.

Facebook chatter

How did you prepare for the storm and freezing temperatures? 

Anna Brown Riedmaier, Port Clinton: All is well. We all had plenty of warning, all family and pets in. No problems, thanks news media!

Paul Matthews, Sandusky: Two boxes of wine, one carton of cigarettes and a pound of bacon!

Mike Cheek, Sandusky: Nothing, not that big of a deal more annoying than anything.

Donna Corbin Yontz, Sandusky: We just made sure we had enough groceries since we live out in the country and got a few cases of bottled water, made sure the propane tanks were filled in case our power goes out we would have emergency heat for a little while. We made sure we had batters and flashlights.

Bob Gregory, Sandusky: Bought a propane heater in case power goes out, went to do shopping Friday night but only to miss the crowds, not because of the storm, would have gone shopping anyhow.

Renee Cagle, Fremont: Plenty of food and drinks, generator ready, wood for the wood burner if needed.

Nancy Ross, Sandusky: Groceries on Friday at Meijer, more groceries on Sunday at Kroger. I am all set. Plenty of food in the house, all is good.

Shane Sibley, Sandusky: Lots of beer and smokes.

Bryan Thom, Sandusky: Lit some candles, opened a bottle of red, turned on some Marvin Gaye and cried my lonely self to sleep.

Denise Bratt Jean Raney: We are letting faucets drip now, have food, water, blankets and dog in house. Hopefully we are prepared thanks to the heads up in advance.

Joseph Micheletti: I got bread and milk!

Victoria Shaffer Kritzell: We bought wine and pretzels, batteries for for flashlights, candles, and loaded our que in Netflix. Good to go!

Justin Simon: Wore my long johns under my clothes today along with a ski mask because I had to drive into work for a bit. At home, we got food ahead of time and movies playing.



Meanwhile us poor "crazy preppers" we're ready and prepared


You know beep, that's the thought that came to my mind on this article- what would it look like if there was a true national emergency? I know this cold snap is serious, but nothing like what would occur if say an EMP was used against us. It shows me that pandemonium would break out- store shelves would be completely empty in HOURS not days. Most people would starve within a week because their electric can opener quit working. Not meaning to be a fear-monger but makes you think a little bit...

Darwin's choice

incredibly true...!

A Marine Mom

No such word as artic. It should be arctic.
Stay warm everyone.

JudgeMeNot's picture

You are correct it should be arctic. But you are wrong about artic.

Pronunciation: /ˈɑːtɪk/
British informal

an articulated lorry.

Kottage Kat

No TV, computer. Do no use electric can opener. Don't drink,had food coffee and cigarettes I did no impulse buying. Always have toliet paper. No big deal here.
Stay warm and stay safe


We need to be buying solar panels and go all propane, don't depend on electric and gas. This is the new way of living...go to and learn about the new way of living or go to YouTube and type in tinyhouse and learn from the vids..


Honestly, people, anybody who can't wait two days to go back to the grocery store should be more worried about their own stupidity than they are about the weather forecast!

When I was young, we lived some distance out in the country. There were no convenience stores, and it often took several days for snowplows to get as far as our road. Never ONCE did we starve, freeze, or get bored. Why not? Because we were USED to only shopping once a week, and we always had more than a week's supply of staples on hand. We had firewood, books, and games. Blizzards were exciting, not frightening for us!

Now people get in a panic the second the wind blows or the temperature drops. Seriously??? What a bunch of babies...

P.S. Is it dangerous to go outside in weather like this? Only relatively long term, and only if you're an idiot. Dress for it, and you'll be just fine. Don't, and don't pretend it's the WEATHER's fault if you're injured!