February 8th, 2020

winter hatred

A Little Snow Goes a Long Way

Everybody complains about the weather forecasts, but nobody wants to get a meteorology degree and see if they can do it better.

It's an axiom. I assume. I'm not sure, let me check ... yep, that's what an axiom is.

Another axiom is, "The weather was always worse when I was a kid!" ... which in my case is literally true. I think I've mentioned before that the summer I was born, several high temperature records were set that are still there today--and the next winter, several low temperatures records were set that are still in place. So you see, I have actual proof that the weather was worse back then.

(By the way, saying I've mentioned something before is still another sign that you're getting older, along with thinking the weather was worse in your youth, and spewing axioms all the time.)

Whenever it looks like we're going to get weather that might effect driving conditions, I post about it on social media, to alert people. There's been push back about that, from people like ... well, me. "Oh, this is nothing! When I was a kid I had to walk fifty miles to school barefoot, with a blizzard every morning and a heat wave every afternoon, carrying my kid brother and a load of firewood on my back! And I was thankful to have that firewood! (Oh, and uphill, both ways.)

When I was a kid, our dogs didn't have fur coats--just a coating of snow. And they were THANKFUL for that snow.

I rode the bus to school. Well, until I was about thirteen or so, then I moved into town and had to walk to school. Even after I got my own car I walked to school, both ways, every day, no matter what the weather.

It was a block and a half.

I don't warn people for the purpose of fearmongering, which is an accusation often made against professional meteorologists. I do it for purely selfish reasons. I'm an emergency telecommunicator (which is what they call dispatchers these days), and the more careful drivers are, the less likely I am to get a 911 call. I'm lazy. These days, if one person slides off into the ditch during morning drive-time, we'll get more 911 calls than a Godzilla appearance would bring in Tokyo.

Granted, Tokyo is probably used to that by now.

Anyway, I think I've figured out a Catch-22 when it comes to this kind of thing. People complain when we warn them that there's only going to be an inch of snow, or a little sleet, yet the next thing you know vehicles are sliding all over the place, like a hockey game but with less violence. It's because they get out of bed and they don't see three feet of snow blowing into drifts bigger than the national debt. "Oh, it's just a couple of flurries--I can get to work okay."

Thin ice is never a good thing. Except for geese ... it's good for them.

Then they leave for work the same time they usually do, and drive the same speed they usually do, especially if they're in one of those impregnable SUVs, and then --

Bam!

"But it was only a little sleet!"

Yeah, and to quote a favorite movie of mine, Hell is just a sauna. So the Catch-22 is: The better the roads seem, the more likely drivers are to get into trouble.

So I'll keep warning people not only when things are bad, but when things might be bad, because it's the right thing to do. And if people want to ignore warnings ... well, being ignorant often seems to be accompanied by a certain amount of luck, so maybe they'll get by.