Saturday, January 04, 2014

Grumpy old man rant

Now that's it's finally snowing I'm going to start my rant about the weather forecasters. Or should I call them "The Legions of Apocalyptic Doom."? Seriously, every change in the weather does not have to be greeted with hand wringing and teeth gnashing by the TV weather dudes and dudettes. Last week one of the stations announced a Winter Weather Advisory for parts of southeast Michigan. "Better pay attention" I said to myself, "this could be the big one." The forecaster then went on to predict that the area could receive 1" of snow. 1"? One inch? Since when do people in Michigan have to be warned about a single inch of snow? In January? If this was Texas than an inch of snow is news. In Michigan we don't even get out the shovels for an inch. I can sweep that up with a broom.

A quick aside. Several years ago we were in Texas over Christmas and on the day we were leaving it snowed an inch. The Texans freaked out. To be fair, they have no snow removal equipment and no one down there knows how to drive in the snow. So an inch of the white stuff was a pretty major concern. On the radio they were telling people to stay off the roads. Which was good for us, we made it to the airport easily. Unfortunately, the snow "storm" delayed flights and rendered the elevated shuttle trains at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport inoperable. We almost missed our connecting flight, even though we had a three hour layover.

As I said, an inch of snow in Texas is cause for concern; in Michigan, not so much. In the last few years school days and evening events have been cancelled based on the forecast of bad winter weather. It seems like at least half the time the anticipated storm is much less fierce than predicted. The gloom and doom forecasters need to dial back the gloom and doom. Now if they are tracking a hurricane or a tornado has been spotted that's a different thing. But predicting snow in Michigan in the winter is like predicting sunshine in southern California in June. It's just going to happen so, no pun intended, chill out.

The main reason this annoys me is the "boy who cried wolf" effect. If we keep getting winter warnings for minor (or non-existent) storms, pretty soon viewers will stop believing the weather people. Then, when a serious storm does threaten, people will ignore the forecast. This could lead to injury or death. So, weather people, do this grumpy old man a favor, ease up on the overly histrionic forecasting. It's winter so don't worry about the couple inches of snow. We expect that on a daily basis. If we are going to get 6" of snow in less than 24 hours, make that an advisory. A warning should be reserved for a foot of snow in 12 hours or less. This is just my suggestion. Excuse me now. I'm going to make a hot toddy, cover up in a blanket,  and watch the snow fall outside my window.

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