Friday, February 10, 2017

Another snow job

Did your survive the storm?

Yes, that's a joke.

No, I'm not laughing.

Hopefully, that's the last time we'll have to go through that silly exercise this season.

First off, it's not exactly a secret that I hate winter. I'm a T-shirt and shorts guy.

But much more important, I again will make the case that what we do with the weather borders on a public disservice.

The drums start beating days before the "storm," and it kicks off a domino effect of us being paralyzed by the looming snowflakes - and of course glued to our TV.

Making this non-storm even weirder was Wednesday's spring-like weather, with temperatures in the mid-60s. It made me think that it was just too warm for us to get as much snow as everyone was predicting for Wednesday night into Thursday, just a few hours later.

But what do I know, I'm not a meteorologist, and I don't have "double-scan radar" to help me out.

When I wonder about the weather, I usually look out the window or walk outside.

Of course, by late afternoon Wednesday, we were in full weather mania mode. Part of this I guess can be explained by the fact that we really have not had any measurable snow. So I guess we should excuse all the hyperventilating about the storm.

The National Weather Service soon got in on the act, posting a Winter Weather Warning and predicting we could get hit by as much as 8 inches of snow.

But it's really no longer funny. This has economic consequences.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced all its city schools would be closed Thursday - late Wednesday afternoon, long before a single flake had fallen.

It did not take long for almost all other schools across the region to do the same.

The problem became evident overnight. The snow did not arrive nearly as early as everyone thought. In didn't actually start snowing until about 4:30 a.m. in the western suburbs and even later farther east. Yes, it snowed hard for about an hour. But I don't think the major roads were ever actually impassable. Snow started tapering off by 10 a.m. and most roads at that point were just wet.

Then we get the frivolity of interviews with kids playing and sledding on their "snow day."

And we get snickers and chuckles about why the forecast was off, how the snow did not start until much later than expected and didn't last as long either. That's how 4-8 inches of snow or even 8-12 inches (of course reserved for those nebulous northern and western suburbs, wherever the hell they are) became more like 3 or 4 inches. In Philadelphia, snow plows were dispatched to clear roads that appeared to be simply wet. The forecasters stress how inexact all this is, and how a slight shift in conditions can make a big difference.

Here's my question. Why don't they stress that the day before. Why don't they tell us they just can't be sure what is going to happen, instead of whipping the region into a snow frenzy.

I understand what this is all about - eyeballs.

I suppose some could accuse me of doing the same thing.

But I would really like to see someone do a study that measures what the economic cost of one of these non-storms is. Anyone agree? Disagree?

Just call it the winter of my discontent.

Again.

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