Southern Snow Storm: A Lesson in Perspective

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As you probably know by now, snow is expected in the Deep South, Southeast and mid-Atlantic beginning tonight and continuing through Saturday, progressing from south central Texas through the East Coast.  You may also know that snow is something of a rarity in many of these areas.  Just seeing it fall from the sky can cause some people to panic or rage in anger.  (I’m serious.  I know people from these areas who hate snow with the heat of 1,000 Suns and then curse at people like me -northerners – for enjoying it.  As if my enjoyment caused the event to happen.)

For this reason, much of central Texas is under a Winter Weather Advisory.  So how much predicted snowfall does it take to issue an advisory for, say, San Antonio?  Well, let’s ask the local NWS office:

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO HAS ISSUED A WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY FOR SNOW…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 6 AM TO 6 PM CST FRIDAY.

SNOW WILL GENERALLY BE LIGHT ACROSS THE EDWARDS PLATEAU…HILL COUNTRY AND AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO CORRIDOR…WHERE ACCUMULATIONS OF A TRACE UP TO ONE HALF INCH ARE POSSIBLE. AT THIS TIME…SNOW IS NOT EXPECTED TO ACCUMULATE ON ROADS…BRIDGES OR OVERPASSES ACROSS THIS AREA.

A trace to one half inch?!  With nothing likely to accumulate on the roads?  Apparently snow is a Texan’s personal kryptonite.  I understand that an inch or two accumulation is cause for concern in the South, but when you don’t anticipate anything accumulating on the road, why bother?

Further east toward the Louisiana border, Winter Storm Watches are in effect.  There is a chance for a couple inches accumulation here, so it’s understandable.  It might even snow in New Orleans, although snow is more likely for southwest LA than the southeast part of the state.

Now, consider this: there is currently a Winter Weather Advisory for Grand Rapids, MI where 4-7 inches of snow are possible with the current storm moving through the area.  A Winter Storm Watch is in effect in Montana for 4-8 inches in the plains and 8-12 inches in the mountains.  I highly doubt a watch would be issued for 1-2 inches, but that’s because they are used to snow in that area.

I’m not trying to say one place is better or tougher than another.  (Although that San Antonio advisory is rather weak.)  It’s just a matter of perspective based on the local climate.  However, in the 21st century, people are more likely to move around the country and live in a variety of locations.  So, keep this in mind if you ever make a big move (or just vacation there).  A Winter Storm Warning in Atlanta is not equal to one in Chicago.  Likewise, if you’re from Houston, don’t expect Denver to issue an advisory or warning every time snow falls from the sky.  In other words, know you’re local climate.

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2 Responses to Southern Snow Storm: A Lesson in Perspective

  1. euandus2 says:

    What gets me is when a local weather “personality” promotes his or her program by teasing us with “snow in our future; more at 11.” That is, self-promotion rather than information.

    Source: http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/12/07/local-news-when-self-importance-manifests-as-teases/

    • Steve J says:

      That’s just part of the business, unfortunately. Of course, most stations will broadcast emergency messages like watches, warnings, and advisories as they are issued with a crawl along the bottom of the screen.

      I’ve heard stories of people bumping up snowfall forecasts for ratings. (Or they are pressured to do so by those more powerful at the station.) People are more interested in a 6-12 inch forecast than 4-8, even if the latter is accurate. This, among many other reasons, is why I don’t watch the news.

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