It's 3 AM: Who Do You Want Making the Forecast?
It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep.
There's a winter storm on the way and they say it's coming soon, possibly arriving by mid-morning. You can barely think straight after awakening in a stupor from a nightmare of impending doom, instigated by last evening's news coverage of the approaching storm.
As you begin to come to your senses, you remember that the local news invariably hypes even a remote chance of the city becoming paralyzed by snow (often regardless of what the station's even-keeled meteorologist has to say). Yet, the questions start running through your head fast and furious:
- Keep the kids at home? Or pick them up early from school? (while avoiding the cars already abandoned in anticipation of the first flakes)
- Rent a bunch of DVDs to keep the kids occupied during the joyful snow day(s) stuck at home?
- Begin pestering the mayor's office for assurance that local side streets will be plowed? (remembering that the ex-mayor's snow removal plan was, believe it or not, spring)
- Stock up on milk, toilet paper and Valium?
- Or, if you're like me, attempt to balance your unabashed excitement for a potential "Big One" against the prospects of unbounded disappointment should the storm be yet another "close miss?"
It's 3 a.m. and there's the smell of snow in the air. Where do you turn for advice?
At this time of night, the Weather Channel's attention is focused on the West Coast. Local TV stations are still in infomercial mode. The local National Weather Service office has had it up to here with your panicked phone calls. And your neighbor is even more frenzied than you, having just heard from a friend of a friend of a friend, who happens to be a wannabe meteorologist, that the "Storm of the Century" is about to befall the region.
What you need is a forecast outlet that knows the area and its terrain, knows the impacts of the urban heat island -- an outlet that is tested and ready to lead despite a dangerously unpredictable atmosphere.
It's 3 a.m. and your children are safe and asleep. Who do you want making the forecast?
We're the Capital Weather Gang, and we approve this message.
The author, Steve Tracton, is the current chair of the D.C. chapter of the American Meteorological Society.
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