Monday, February 8, 2016

Snow hype, and reality

Snow sells; consumers be aware.

Snow hype, and reality


The first law in the brave new world of weather is that what might happen is almost always more interesting than what is happening.

And in the last decade, the art and science of speculation have made unprecedented advances, with the evolution of ever-more sophisticated computer modeling.

We now can know about storms a week before they show up. Unfortunately, we also can know about them a week before the don't show up.

But rather than blaming the weathermen for getting us all worked up, by now we should be smart enough to accept those extended forecasts for what they are worth.

We should all be aware that a snow forecast 5 or 6 days out is about as useful as a preseason baseball forecast.

This will be good to keep in mind the next few days.

You may be aware that another storm rumor has been in the wind, with computer models suggesting a blockbuster nor'easter for the middle of next week.

If you've been paying attention this winter, you know that nothing can remove snow with more efficiency than a fresh computer-model run.

If you've been paying attention this winter, you also know that ignoring this threat until at least late Monday is probably a safe idea.

Nevertheless, unless the threat dissipates entirely, the commercial services and TV meteorologists will keep talking about it, especially since the threat has been championed by the vaunted European model.

Snow sells, that's a 100 percent certainty. These days, so much of the online business reminds me of a game we played on The Corner when we were kids: Made You Look, as in, "Oh no, your dog just got run over by a Mack truck! ... Made you look."

Snow is one of those ultimate "made you look" words, not that anything is wrong with exploiting it. It draws online traffic.

If a snow threat is suggested by reputable computer models and bears the stamp of science, the speculation is legitimate.

Why shouldn't fault Accu-Weather or a respected meteorologist such as Glenn Schwartz for wanting to share that with the public, even if the threat is a week a way.

Most meteorologists do love weather and the dramas of the atmosphere, and almost nothing gets the juices flowing with more vigor than the prospect of a monster snowstorm.

It's only natural that if the European or the U.S. models are bombing out an historic snowstorm that they would want to share their enthusiasm at the prospect as publicly as possible.

So don't fault the weathermen if reality is a pallid imitation of the virtual dramas.


Inquirer Weather Columnist
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Tony Wood Inquirer Weather Columnist
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