February 1, 2004
Looking For Snow
I’m not cranky, just anxious
The Weather Channel makes me crazy. Or, at the very least, it makes me cranky.
The advent of new technology has made it easier than ever to check the weather forecast. Remember the old days we had to wait for the 10 o’clock news and see what was going to happen the next couple of days. But now you can log on to the Internet and find about a zillion weather-related sites. Weather forecasts—even detailed ones—are right there at the click of a mouse.
That’s why I’m convinced ignorance is bliss … at least when it comes to the weather.
I remember the days when weather predicting wasn’t … well, exactly an exact science. We were always pleasantly surprised when we’d get a big dump of snow—most of the time we didn’t really know it was coming. Nowadays we know exactly how much is supposed to fall and between what hours it will fall. To me, that takes all the fun—and spontaneity—out of winter. And when it doesn’t come in the amounts predicted, it adds to the disappointment.
Then there are the weather terms. We have snow advisories, blowing and drifting snow advisories, winter weather advisories, winter storm watches, winter storm warnings, blizzard warnings, heavy snow warnings, ice storm warnings, hazardous weather outlooks and winter storm outlooks. It’s enough to make you crazy. Just say it’s going to snow and leave it at that.
And we have the Weather Channel. You know the Weather Channel, which just a few short years ago no one gave a snowball’s chance in Cancun of surviving. Today the Weather Channel is viewed by more than 87 million U.S. households while its Internet site, www.weather.com, attracts 20 million unique users per month. Probably half of those are from me and other snowmobilers. Don’t try to deny it. We all know better.
If the Weather Channel doesn’t provide me with enough hope for a decent snowfall, then I log on to any of four other weather-related sites on my favorite list on the Internet. And I have another three or four website addresses memorized. One of my favorite websites is http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/snotel/. It gives up to date snowfall amounts for hundreds of snotel sites around the West. One of my least favorite sites is http://www.drought.unl.edu/dm/monitor.html. Go to the website and find out yourself why I don’t particularly like this site.
When I’m really desperate I go to www.skicentral.comand click on the “Latest Dumps” section, which tells where the biggest snowfalls have taken place at ski resorts over the past seven days. I say desperate because ski resorts are notorious for being very generous when reporting snowfall amounts. I swear they measure horizontally instead of vertically.
So, I admit I surf the net every day at work. But I spend my time looking for snow and checking the weather forecast about a million times. Like I must think the weather forecast is going to change every 10 minutes. It doesn’t, but I still keep checking, hoping for a blizzard warning.
But it doesn’t come and that’s why I’m cranky. I want it to snow. I need it to snow. I love blizzards. Some people want to go to Hawaii. Me, I want to go to just about anywhere in the Rocky Mountains, which have some of the biggest snowfalls on the planet. Sidenote: the Paradise Ranger Station in the Rockies once recorded 1,224 inches—that’s 102 feet—of snow in a single year. I’d think I had died and gone to snowmobile heaven.
I don’t even mind driving in blizzards or otherwise normal snow storms. I’m sure if other motorists were able to see me driving in a snow storm, they would think I’m crazy because I have a big grin on my face and am probably whistling this happy tune, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.”
When I do find a promising forecast of snow then I’m perky, until it doesn’t materialize. For example, according to www.weather.com, there was a promise of snow almost every day of the week I’m writing this column and here it is almost Friday and nothing but a skiff. Now do you understand why I’m cranky?
I look for snow anywhere. Then when I find it, it’s more than likely in a place too far away or we can’t snowmobile there … then I get even more cranky.
So far the season is looking pretty decent. I’ve been riding a half dozen times by the first week of December and the snow conditions in the mountains are much better than they were at this time last year. So, right now I’m pretty perky.
But I’m going to keep surfing and searching.