Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The sky is falling! Or ... we miss you, Connie McBurney

Hope I won’t be eating my words in a few hours, but this weather-alarmist stuff is on my last nerve.

As of yesterday, we were staring down the threat of a veritable wall of snow – 12 inches! the weather folks proclaimed. Later: OK, maybe not 12, but close to a foot! This morning at 8 a.m., whoops! WHO-TV was promising 5 inches. (Did the other 7 vanish while I was sleeping? If so – wow! How do I make that happen with the numbers on the scale?) And at 8:30, another reduction; the forecast was calling for 4.5 inches.

I work in communications, so I understand the premise of saying something better than everyone else says it – hopefully in a way that will draw an audience to you because people like the way you tell a story. But come on. This happens every time snow is forecast. A week before the predicted storm, we’re sure to be rendered homebound by the blizzard of the century. But by the time the thing hits, actual snowfall accounts to barely a dusting.

A Facebook friend pointed out this morning that relying on weather.com rather than local meteorologists is the way to go. And I agree – but at the same time, watching the news at 6 or 10 or both is habit for many of us. When I was little and weather.com wasn’t even a glint in technology’s eye, we hung on Connie McBurney’s every word – and back then, she was usually right. What happened?

Of course, being over-informed is preferable to being kept in the dark; we need to know about icy streets, for example. But the whole run-to-the-store-right-this-minute-and-stock-up thing constitutes more than overkill. I remember only once in my many years when snow kept us from going to the store; it was in April 1973, and a surprise blizzard trapped us inside for a day or so. I was 10 and thrilled with the Laura Ingalls Wilder flavor of it all.

If Mother Nature does dump on us tonight, I’ll eat my words – but for now, I’ll eat my lunch, calmly and rationally, as co-workers with small children scurry to finish the day’s tasks so they can claim their progeny from weather-dictated early dismissals from school. And we’ll all spend the afternoon with our noses glued to the windows … that is, when we’re not streaming local TV stations on our computers. What’s that you say, Mr. Meteorologist? The sky is falling?

Forgive me for not heading out for groceries. Something tells me I’ll be able to stop on my way home.

1 comment:

  1. I'm totally with you on this, Lisa. There is way too much hype associated with weather forecasting these days. (I definitely don't remember "hurricane force winds" when I was a little girl. I think they were simply called 80-mph winds.) At some point, I'd just like to remind people that yes, this is winter in Iowa. Snow is to be expected. But I'll believe it when I SEE it, not when they predict it!