Monday, January 26, 2015

The Snow Storm that Wasn’t — the Hysteria that Was

I have been a full time resident of DC since the mid 1980s. I’ve seen my share of major storms here. DC does get snow, not like where I grew up north of Chicago, but enough that it shouldn’t cause the panic that it does. This “storm” is a perfect example of it.

It started this past mid-week with predictions of a storm to hit Monday morning right in time for rush-hour (a point in time to cause the maximum amount of panic). As the days went by meteorologist couldn’t pin point the exact timing of all of this. In fact, they still couldn’t do that as late as Saturday night. In fact last night there was still some question what the time line would be for the snow.

This morning I woke to rain. By the time I got to work there was a little snow coming down but the ground was too warm for it to stick. The places it was sticking were the far northwestern suburbs which I really wouldn’t call suburb. Places like Frederick and Hagerstown. Cities that are 48 and 72 miles from DC respectively. So there in the area where the cable signal of these stations go but not of much consequence say if you live like maybe in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. Say someone like me.

I can understand the over reaction by the local stations because two weeks ago they completely blew the call on the clipper. It was supposed to leave just a dusting of snow and left about 4 inches in some areas. And I’m not talking Hagerstown I’m talking inside the Beltway. It lead to a real mess because everyone assumed it would be fine and took to the roads to get to work. It turned out not to be the case. Since everyone was on the roads, it made it hard for crews to get out and clear the roads.

Not much of an event but plenty of hysteria by the media. I understand that it is important to let people know the potential for a major storm. But the coverage was just a little much. In fact the coverage on many of these “storms” is a little much. The night before the storm like clock work there is a report about how the salt trucks and plows are going to be out. There’s a report from some place in Maryland. One from some place in DC. And one from some place in Virginia. And these are actually reports with correspondents at the site. Why not here’s what each of the jurisdictions are planning to do from the anchor. But going to a live report adds so much more drama.

I remember one time when the stations had their reporters stationed around the area. They were to report what the salt trucks and plows were up to. Also the condition of the roads. There was only one small problem. There was no snow to be seen. So they went from reporter to reporter to reporter all who said well nothing coming down yet. But when it does the plows will be ready. If I remember correctly little if any snow fell.

Perhaps a little less hype on the part of the local DC TV stations and a little more reporting on what actually is going to happen is what should be stressed.

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