The Old Coot weathers the storm

Weather was the lead story on the evening news the other night, “A DANGEROUS snowstorm is moving across the Midwest!” Not just a snowstorm, mind you, a DANGEROUS snowstorm, causing a 20-car pileup on the interstate, snow drifts, icy conditions. On and on went the reporter. A newspaper headline went one better, saying that a mixed bag of glop imperils the eastern states. IMPERILS? Wow, that’s bad! We used to just call these events, winter weather or a snowstorm. Now, the media hypes it up, hoping to make its listeners and readers afraid of the weather and tuning in, to keep up to date. I rant about this every year, lastly, on July 4, 2018. I promised myself to not let them get to me, and then I relapse. So here I go again. Just in time, before the end of 2019.

I yell at the TV, A storm isn’t dangerous; it’s people who drive like maniacs, who don’t allow for the conditions. They’re the danger, not the storm. It’s winter; what do you expect? It snows; it gets cold, things freeze, sidewalks are slippery, wires come down, power goes out. SO WHAT! Are we, the species at the top of the food chain, incapable of dealing with weather? (The news media thinks so.)  

They trot out the “wind chill factor,” to scare us even more. A reporter (or meteorologist) will say, “The temperatures will be in the low twenties, but the WIND-CHILL FACTOR will make it feel like it’s only 10 degrees out there.” 

Wind chill has zero effect on most of the broadcast audience. It only affects bare skin, making the temperature seem lower when the wind gusts push cold air across it. Most of us wear winter clothes when it’s cold outside. If we walked around in shorts, flip flops and T-shirts, then the wind chill factor would have an impact, but not if we’re bundled up. 

And, it’s not enough for them to just frighten us about impending weather. They forecast what going to happen next week, with a five-day tale of dread. It’s wrong 50 percent of the time, at least when I write it down and then see what happens five days later. Not a scientific analysis, but good enough for me.  

It’s a wonder we dare leave our houses, with all the hype about the dangerous conditions outside. I’m hoping that someday we might get back to calling it winter weather, summer weather, and the media won’t feel a need to lecture us, as though we are little kids, unable to cope with it on our own. And, they can stop telling us to wear a coat, take an umbrella, drink plenty of water, and stay in the shade. Maybe then I’ll stop yelling at my TV. The news media and the meteorologists put out front are the real danger, making mountains out of molehills and crying wolf so often that when a real wolf comes to town we ignore the warning. There! I’m good for another year!

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