Monday, December 17, 2007

It Snows in December – Get Over It

Living in Northeast Ohio, winter means snow, and lots of it. Especially in the areas called “The Snow Belt”, which gets “Lake Effect” snows. This means that snowfalls can be enhanced by cold air moving over an unfrozen lake, dumping increased amounts of snow on land. This has happened probably as long as bodies of water like the Great Lakes have been in existence.

Why is it then that the local newscasters always sound like it's Armageddon when the possibility of lake effect exists? Over this past weekend, when we had a large storm cut across the Midwest, one would have thought that a category 5 hurricane was coming. The grocery stores were packed with people, all loading up like they weren’t going to get out of their houses for a week, all because the weather people told them it was going to be “bad.”

But, true to form, the weather forecasters got it wrong. Well, maybe not wrong, just exaggerated. The first leg of the storm came through – as mostly rain, not with snow as they predicted. The second leg of the storm came through and brought snow and high winds, but not the massive dumping of snow predicted.

This process will repeat itself through out the winter season. The weather forecasters will hit the panic button, screaming that the end is near, and then the weather will decide to do its own thing, many times not what the forecasters predicted. We are then forced to listen to the same old weather-related news stories about how to drive in the winter, not to shovel snow if your old, how to avoid fires from space heaters and fireplaces, etc. It's as if they think that viewers either have short memories or are incredibly stupid because they repeat the same stuff - on multiple channels - every winter.

It seems like many people in this area know to take the weather forecast with a grain of salt, that is, except the weather forecasters. We have four local news channels, with several weather forecasters, and I’ve learned to watch those that temper their forecast with calm and reason, and only sound the alarm when really dangerous conditions exist.

So for those of you living in areas that usually get snow in the winter – guess what? You’re probably going to get snow again this season. Don’t panic!

Now I’m going outside to shovel 6 inches of “ it will be partly cloudy today” off my driveway.

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