Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Blizzard of Oz

Anyone watching weather reports leading up to Monday's snowbust in the New York area would've thought the world was coming to an end. An endless parade of faces appeared warning of "historic" snowfalls, dire conditions, and all out end to everything we know. Politicians, afraid of being accused of being unprepared, overreacted and closed roads, schools, and government agencies from Monday afternoon through Tuesday. The masses panicked, raiding stores at a record pace. In the end, the city got 7 inches of snow, and to the north, we got a grand total of 2 inches. 

While I understand that in New England, the preparation was called for, as it should be anywhere on the coast where coastal flooding is a possibility, that doesn't excuse the actions inland. First off, this is the's January...we get snow. That's part of winter! Second, there is no need to close things for the next day when they can easily be closed later. Schools did not need to be closed a day in advance, close them in the morning the way it has always been done. Doesn't anyone think it silly that politicians would be making these decisions based on weather reports - the most notoriously inaccurate thing in human history!

Yesterday, I watched weather man after weather woman making heartfelt apologies for getting it wrong after the public reacted harshly. They talked about computer models, and the idea of how it's better to be safe than sorry...but what they don't realize is that the reaction isn't just based on this one storm. It's based on the fact that every reasonable weather event since Hurricane Katrina is labeled "extreme" or "historic." CNN's regular weather report is actually called "Extreme Weather." They hype things up to get people to watch and then shrug it off when their predictions turn out to be the only thing extreme in the whole process. 

Now I fully support the idea of preparing the public of potentially hazardous, or deadly storms, especially hurricanes or tornadoes, but snowfall during winter or a heatwave in the summer do not qualify. The silliness has got to stop, and hopefully this storm will pave the way for more common sense, like the kind that existed pre-2005. If it doesn't, they run the risk of people ignoring an actual cause for alarm due to weariness of extended hype.

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