Street Talk: Forecasts? They're for the birds

Metro columnist and veteran newsman Dave Warner tackles Philadelphia metropolitan issues.

A family walks down the Art Museum steps as snow fell throughout the area on TuesdCharles Mostoller

In 33 days, we won’t care.


By then we will have seen the renewal of Daylight Savings Time and, on March 20, the first day of spring.


The winter snow and chill will likely be gone, the sun will return, and local TV stations will have to find something else to win viewers.


Which means you may then cease the panicked dash to the ACME to get the bread and milk before a half inch of snow falls.


Remember the sky-is-falling tone of local news reports at the end of January?

You do, because that was the Storm That Never Arrived.

Folks are still talking about their newfound skepticism about weather reports.

Dave Dombek, senior meteorologist at Pennsylvania-based AccuWeather says modern media and social media can beat the weather drum louder and faster than need be.

“That’s a trend in recent years,” he said. “Sources of information today are just vast, it’s overwhelming,” he said.

The weather is with you always, even on your cell phone and your computer. And somehow you want that human being on television to tell you even more.

“It is one of the universal content elements,”says Nick Lawler, a media consultant with Frank N. Magid Associates. TV news needs something to fill all that time.

Frankly, even if we had been hit with 6 to 10 inches of snow during that January nor’easter, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Something just over 30 inches fell here on a day in 1996. First, it was a record for our region, and second, some of us – ahem – trudged to work somehow that day.

So, you’re going to hit the ACME panic button for 6 to 10 inches on that day at the end of January?You were.

An acquaintance recalls standing in the “express” line at his supermarket that day. Behind 60 other people.

In any event, those 6 to 10 inches actually amounted to little more than could cover the grass.

At the time, the National Weather Service said it was because the great Nor’easter blew further out to sea than anybody thought it would.

No apologies from the folks at AccuWeather’s home base in State College.

“It is an imperfect science,” Dombek said.

But, he reckoned, his colleagues do learn from their mistakes, asking themselves,

“Was there something we didn’t see?”

As for the non-storm in January, well, you have your long and slow Nor’easters, which are pretty predictable, and your quicker and shorter weather systems, which are not.

This was the latter.

Just be thankful you don’t live in Boston.

Metro columnist and veteran newsman Dave Warner tackles Philadelphia metropolitan issues in his weekly column. Email Dave at .

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