The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

January 14, 2011

Cloudy with a Chance of Scattered Doom

Filed under: weather — Brian Lutz @ 1:59 am

It seems that a couple of evenings ago there was a little snowstorm that passed through the area.  I just thought I’d let you know about this in case you missed it for some unknown reason like the fact that you were busy napping at the time or something.  The snow arrived fairly late in the evening and lasted only a few hours before turning to rain and quickly melting away, but not before it managed to put down an inch or two and stick to the roads for a little while.  Unfortunately, the fact that it arrived so late combined with relatively low traffic volumes meant that once again I was disappointed in my search from some good traffic carnage on 405 to watch from my high and lofty perch, but there’s still 2 1/2 months of Winter left for that (Note:  the preceding statement does not imply any desire for additional Winter beyond the standard allocation, and is in fact about 2 1/2 months more Winter than I’d really care to deal with in any given year.)  All in all, if you happen to be one of those questionably sane people out there who actually likes Winter weather for some reason that modern science has yet to develop a suitable pill for, there’s a good chance you would have been just a bit let down by this storm.  Especially given the fact that the various TV weathermen have been talking this one up for at least the last five days.

For some time now, I have  been following a couple of the local weather guys on my Twitter feed.  For the most part it seems to be a pretty good way of getting whatever basic weather info I might need, and the weather guys around here also do a pretty good job of explaining how things work and why things happen.  Most of the time, this is a pretty good arrangement, but there’s just one little issue with it:  The minute anything “interesting” shows up in the weather forecast, you might as well just sit back and grab some popcorn, because you’re in for wall-to-wall coverage.  Take for instance this most recent snow.  As much as a week in advance the various forecasting models were starting to show predictions of a potential snowstorm on Tuesday of this week.  In fact, for several days they were showing potential for as much as 6-10 inches of lowland snow.  Obviously if there’s potential for some sort of disruptive snow event it’s best to make sure people have as much advance notice as possible, but even after all the various disclaimers and explanations they’ve posted about the inaccuracy of the forecast models that far out, they sure seem to spend a lot of time hyping up whatever weather system is allegedly on the way.  Even as the forecast models kept going back and forth as to what the severity of the expected storm was going to be, the play-by-play coverage of just how much next Tuesday’s commute was going to suck continued unabated. 

When it reached the point where the storm was only a day or two off the models quickly trended toward much lower snow totals than what had been previously reported, meaning that even by Seattle standards the expected snow wasn’t going to be too much of a big deal.  But by this time so many pixels had been spilled on the coverage of the impending snowstorm that they were all but forced to keep up the breathless wall-to-wall coverage.  Thus by the time the snow actually arrived, it wasn’t much more than the usual dusting of snow that we get around here every once in a while.  By the time on Tuesday evening when the earlier forecasts seem to suggest we’d all be building igloos and rounding up our sled dogs, the front page story on the KOMO website had to go all the way out to Hoquiam to find some pictures with a light dusting of snow on the ground.  The snow did eventually move inland well after the evening commute and drop an inch or two on us here (as seen above) but quickly turned to rain and never really amounted to much.  Even as the snow turned to slush and the weather reverted back to the usual Seattle January weather (rainy with a side of high winds) they had to get one last shot in.  Until someone thought better of it, the front page story on KOMO the next morning even briefly featured the term “Slushageddon” in the headline.

Oh, and another thing, while I’m on the subject:  This one isn’t necessarily the fault of the weather guys, but since when has it become fashionable to turn every single weather event into some sort of eschatological cataclysm?  Two inches of snow on the ground for a couple of hours?  It’s a Snowpocalypse.  It’s raining outside? Better declare a Floodageddon.  Before long we’re going to look out the window, see that visibility is limited outside and declare it to be a portent of Fognarök.  Oh, and as long as we’re at it, I call dibs on Pärtlyclöuderdämmerung.  Which would, incidentally, make a good name for a death metal band.  But not a particularly good one, just one of the ones that opens for the garage band playing down at the teen center on Wednesday evening.  But I digress.  Still, I think we really need to chill out on the existential panic every time weather happens, because at this rate by the time something actually happens we’re not going to have any adjectives left to describe it.  It’s gotten to the point where we’ve now got some sort of Friendly Neighborhood Snowpocalyptic creature thingy taking credit for whatever frozen precipitation happens to show up around here and generally fomenting chaos, panic and/or disorder among the populace (particularly those supporting opposing NFL teams.) 

To be honest, I haven’t got a clue what’s going on with our weather around here this year.  All I know is that one way or another we’ve got two more months of the stuff to deal with, and it looks like if it’s not the weather making a mess of things, it’s going to be people talking about the weather potentially making a mess of things that’s going to make a mess of things.  Anyone know who I could talk to about that whole hibernation bit I’ve been hearing about?

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