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Snow Dud

Even as I sit here and start writing this, I think about how this is going to make me sound like an old boomer whining about how things used to be. Unfortunately for you, I’m not self-aware enough to refrain from writing it. So here it goes. 

New England is a unique spot geographically. We get all of the 4 seasons. We don’t just get them, some years we get the extremes of all 4. In my 31 years of existence on this planet, we’ve had tornados, hurricanes, blizzards, subzero temperatures and hundred degree heat. Knowing that we’ve experienced it all, there’s one thing that always boggles my mind. That is how we react to snow. 

Where is all this coming from you may ask? 

For the past 3 days, we’ve heard about huge amounts of snow coming on Tuesday. As I am writing this at 12:20pm on Tuesday, there is not a single flake of snow on the ground outside. A good friend of mine actually texted me this question and it made me laugh, “When did we as New Englanders get into such a frenzy over about 9 to 10 inches of snow? It’s fucking weird!” Editor’s Note: That conversation devolved into several “6 inches is the new 12”-esque comments that I won’t subject you to, but were quite hilarious.

Listen, I get it. Weather isn’t an exact science. People much smarter than I deal with the computer models and predicting the amount of snow we’re going to get. What bothers me about this one more than others in the past is how the local TV networks prey on their viewers with these outlandish snow maps and then nothing comes of it. 

I understand what they’re trying to do. Local TV news is being essentially replaced by social media and weather apps, so they need to do whatever they can to stay relevant. They know that nowadays, the only things that draw them ratings are horrible stories about murder, and storm coverage. They use these “meteorologists” to fan the flames of snow hysteria just to yank the rug out at the last second. They use phrases like, “the latest models say…” and “worst case scenario” to give themselves an out in case they’re wrong. They’re coverage is basically just a bait and switch that they can get away with thanks to the “inexact” science that is weather. 

I know what you’re going to say, nobody is watching these shows. I even just said it myself. The big problem with this isn’t just them preying on their mostly elderly viewers. The bigger issue here is that these meteorologists have an impact on a whole bunch of things. 

First and foremost, is the fact that these predictions have the ability to shut people’s lives down. Countless numbers of schools were closed today based upon what they thought was coming. Well, nothing happened and due to rules about informing parents and families, the schools couldn’t take it back and open in the morning. Now, like most teachers, I celebrated with a few cold ones last night when I got the call, but I also understand that a lot of parents had to make other arrangements for their kids. Whether that be finding a sitter, or just taking a day off from work to make sure the kids are ok. That sucks when there is a lot of snow. But when it simply rains and nothing comes of it, it is even more frustrating. 

These kinds of sensational snow predictions also send people running to the grocery store, which nobody wants. It’s a pain for the employees, regular shoppers and even the panicked masses are bothered by lines out the door to get food and the essentials. 

Even yesterday when I was looking at the weather, the app I was using was grossly different from what people were being subjected to on TV. I typically use the Weather Channel app, and it was saying 3 to 5 inches all day Monday. Then, I went over to my mom’s house to help her with her TV and when it got going, I saw that WCVB was predicting over a foot for the exact town I live in. I assumed that I would have school in the morning, but then I saw that and my mind changed. Afterwards, I kept checking my app and it wasn’t changing. Nothing changed, then I got the call and the celebration commenced. Even as I went to bed, nothing had changed on my app. Still not much. 

The real travesty came overnight. As soon as the majority of schools canceled and everyone already ran to the Market Basket to fill their carts with necessities. All of a sudden, the totals plummeted. It went from over a foot of snow to none in the matter of a few hours. This kind of bad prediction gives me an icky feeling, but couple that with the fact that several other sources correctly predicted not a lot of snow, makes this feel like fraud. Now this is a symptom of a bigger issue. Sensationalizing news or weather is nothing new. But it bothers me when sources tell us the TV is wrong, and yet we trust them. 

I think this is a generational thing. Think about how things were done when you were a kid. My parents were raised to just react to the snow when it happened. Yeah there was TV weather but it wasn’t like when I was in school. Back in that time, before phones and social media, the TV news was where we got our info. I remember waking up early to watch the TV scroller on the bottom and wait for your school to go by. Very rarely did school get canceled based upon the forecast, unless it was HUGE. I mean like 2 feet of snow huge. These days kids are notified immediately if school gets canceled, and most schools do it before the snow even happens. Even if there is some doubt as to what will happen, the schools typically go with the TV predictions. 

This is because the people making the decisions are of the generation where TV weather was the end all be all. The old reliable if you will. They don’t realize that things have shifted from just reporting the weather, to a snow-map dick measuring contest. The people in charge need to pick a non-entertainment source for their weather, so they get a non sensationalized view of what might actually happen.

Now, as I bash the decision makers for watching TV weather reports, I do not envy their position. There is no winning with people. If they didn’t cancel school and there was a lot of snow, they’d be getting skewered by folks. Now that there’s no snow and no school, people like me are bitching and moaning. So it’s a lose lose. But a little bit of patience would go a long way in this case. 

My stupid complaints aside, I do have a prediction. When the next storm comes along, we are going to see the pendulum swing the other way. The meteorologists will predict another big storm and the rest of us will fall into “Boy who cried wolf” syndrome and nobody will believe them. Then, there will be a disastrous day where school buses crash and kids will get hurt because they should’ve canceled and didn’t. This is an inevitability. Thankfully, I only work a mile and a half from my home, so I won’t whine too much. And I’d much rather have my days off in June than in February in shitty weather. I say let it ride and let’s go to school in a blizzard!  

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