Despite liking The Weather Channel, appreciating the latest generation of computer weather models and thinking the Grand Rapids market has a pretty good crop of meteorologists on TV and radio, I have complained about the creeping (and creepy) hype about Disaster Weather. So, what about the Great December First Blizzard in West Michigan? Was it all hype? Was it right that nearly 400 area schools, including Western Michigan University, closed on Friday? Because in the long run,we didn't get nearly the snowfall which was forecast. Out here in the country, we were slated for 8-12" of snow. But in terms of going out at 3:30pm on Friday to take a long look at the driveway, the deepest snow I found maxed at about 4". We might've gotten more, but the local wind tunnel conditions may've either dried out some of the snow or blown it off into the woods and fields. It can happen.
Overhype? Or Error Bars?
Frankly, the last couple of years nearly every promised Winter Storm of Doom has passed us by. Tracked north or south of us. If we lived in the Great Plains, it would be a different matter methinks. But here on the shores of a Great Lake, we are at the mercy of the capriciousness of the lake gods. Lake Effect snows can turn any minor weather pattern into hours of unrelenting heavy snows and the bubble of warm air over the water can divert any number of storms as well.
But if we didn't get the rash of predicted road disasters, it isn't for lack of trying. The roads were slippery, icy and in some places layered in the dreaded black ice. Semis jackknifed, cars slid off the roads. Saturday we saw some tire tracks at a fairly large angle to the snow on the side of road heading down into a steep drainage ditch. Not recommended driving technique.
Playing Weather Channel
The younger/newer on-air talents for the local TV stations were scattered on the roads all over West Michigan in the day and into the night. Despite the blowing weather and the advisories, there were people on the highways. However the number of vehicles was clearly down. I think the reason we didn't get the 90-car pileup on the slippery hill leading up to Kalamazoo on southbound US-131 on Friday afternoon is that enough people stayed home it didn't get stupid out there.
It may be the vaunted 21st century, but we have to sit back and remember to have some respect for the weather conditions. Superhighways, better tires and reliable front-wheel, four-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles means that less than expert drivers are capable of getting around safer than ever before. But these developments do not make us invincible.
As I said on Friday, sometime you just have to decide to stay home. Sure, it messed up some schedules, but being inconvenienced a little is so much better than being inconvenienced a lot. And whales cheaper. (grin)
P.S. It's pretty outside with the snow falling and fallen. Yesterday we went out to Flowerland to buy wreaths for either side of the garage, and between the cold wind, the snowy parking lot and the smell of pine wafting over from the tree and wreath barn -- yeah, it's official. It could be Christmas coming soon.
Labor Day's got none of this good stuff, which is why it's lame to set up Christmas in the stores that early. So there!