Hello Everyone –
So where do I start when it comes to getting the correct word out about an approaching winter storm. Let me first say that I am totally in favor of safety first and fun second, but I think that especially during the winter, there are some of us who go a bit overboard with the safety thing. Again, before someone sends me that anonymous nasty email, criticizing my thoughts, let me remind you I am in favor of the safety aspect of having fun.
Let’s take this past weekend’s snowstorm throughout the mid-Atlantic area for example. As I was traveling home on Friday (in the dumps for missing expected powder anywhere and everywhere in the region) a weather advisory from the National Weather Service interrupted my favorite talk show to inform me that the Charleston, West Virginia area was going to get six to ten inches of snow by Saturday morning. On top of that, the announcers took it a step further by saying to stay put unless there was a real good reason to be on the road.
Fast forward to Saturday morning, 34 degrees outside and about an inch of snow on the ground, no big deal still looking for that ten inches of snow. So I packed up the family and headed downtown to witness Monster Jam 2010 at the Charleston Civic Center. Full disclosure time, my five-year old Christian would have found another Daddy if I was out looking for powder stashes instead of cheering with him for Grave Digger, Virginia Giant and Monster Mutt Dalmatian. With all the technology we have, you would’ve thought the experts would’ve known that the cold air was going to stay aloft and mostly rain was going to be the precipitation.
Giving credit where credit is due, the weather folks did hit it on the nose in the mountains and around the nation’s capitol. I am sorry, but I had to laugh watching some of those flatlanders deal with Mother Nature’s white gold. Now I have to admit, 30-inches of snow is a chunk of change, but in an area where hip boots (for all the BS) are more common than snowboots, staying put might not have been bad advice. It was Super Bowl weekend, so staying put should not have been too difficult.
Could you imagine if the storm in that region had come during the week, the government would’ve shut down! Hey wait a minute, there’s a stimulus package that actually makes sense.
Now the point of the above ramblings – two days before the storm Virginia’s Governor declared a state of emergency, followed by Maryland and West Virginia’s Governors on Friday. To the dismay of resorts in those states, expected visitors started cancelling their plans almost immediately.
Let’s jump back to the first paragraph, safety is first in my mind (I have driven through Maryland’s Cumberland Gap in the snow, it’s not much fun), but why have an effect on all when not all are affected. There were resorts that were just fine to get to, but since the emergency word was out there – it created a situation that made it tough for ski areas to overcome in terms of attracting visitors.
Now onto the folks at The Weather Channel, and really every meteorologist out there these days. Before I continue, you should understand that I have provided tons of footage and interviews to the network and will probably do so in the future. But when an on-camera meteorologist (or OCM) says the roads are going to be treacherous two or three days before the actual storm, what is John Q. Public expected to think, the road conditions are going to be bad. When an OCM speaks on The Weather Channel, you and me and everyone else listens and nine times out of ten they are right. It’s the tenth time that is a kick in the pants. As it turned out most highway crews stayed ahead of the storm and the roads, at least into West Virginia were easily passable. All I am asking is that every meteorologist just understand how much weight people put on their every word and how another person’s livelihood can be affected.
That’s it for this week, just remember whether it be cold or whether it be hot, we’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather will be. Think about it! See you on the slopes.
Joe Stevens, a member of the southeast ski industry since 1990 is a regular columnist for skisoutheast.com and serves as the Communications Director for the West Virginia Ski Areas