30% Chance of light dusting by morning

30% Chance of light dusting by morning

I wake to an impressive, unexpected snowfall and my thoughts turn to the team of weatherfolk on our local television station, WFSB, serving Hartford and New Haven. Although our paths in the real world have not crossed, I can tell they truly are a team; their hail-fellow-well-met lively patter is clearly unrehearsed and sincere. They take their work seriously, though; they have maps.

We are newly arrived in Connecticut, and (how to put this gently?) don’t give a rip about the upcoming tilt between the Bacon Wildcats (Colchester) and the Woodstock Centaurs (Woodstock), except to wonder, of course, how the Centaurs came to be a school mascot. We DO care about the weather, and it is in the pursuit of timely information that we tune in each evening at six, suffering through taped debates of wastewater issues in Bristol in order to glean some slight sense of what is about to happen to our roof and yard.

It has been my contention for some time that we might as well buy a used Magic Eight Ball, slosh it around, and ask if rain or snow is likely. I’ve done my research; the clouded Eight Ball screen offers 20 possible responses, 10 of which are positive, five uncertain, and five negative. Not too shabby. To be fair, the predictive authority of weather teams everywhere is at least as helpful as that offered by economists and on-line dating sites.

That said, snow is on the ground, and that’s that. Except that it isn’t. The next twenty hours of keenly observant reporting from the WFSB weather team will document the distribution of that snowfall, flake-by-flake. We’ll see snow plows, hats decorated with reindeer, and slick highways glistening with snow melt or gritty with freshly spread sand. Since the team didn’t see this one coming (or if they did,  chose not to share their vision with those of us tuned in at six), tonight’s broadcast will explain why the sky fell and how likely it is to fall again.

Lest you think my meteorological nattering is directed at the entire universe of weather reporters, I hasten to correct the record.

We lived in Alabama for five years (I know) where DOPPLER RADAR reports were constant and absolutely necessary. You want weather? Live anywhere south of Indiana. The day after we arrived in Connecticut a major snowfall covered the Farmington Valley; the week before we landed in Huntsville, a tornado tore the roof off the neighborhood school. Yes, there are tornadoes elsewhere, including Connecticut, where an earlier and misbegotten turn of events brought us to the Northwest Corner only days before a tornado took out an entire forest, but heightened awareness of the possibility of months of chaos in Tornado Alley is another thing altogether. Red sky in the morning may be a sailor’s warning in New England; green sky at noon was more than enough warning for us.

We did spend more time above ground than in our comfy sheltered basement, but all we needed was the slightest suggestion of a pending whirlwind to scurry down below. So, there we were, cookies and crayons at hand, prepared to wait out whatever tumult the gods had in mind, watching the local news team report from ground zero.

Hmmm. When I say local news team I mean the lowest ranking, newly hired, youngest “reporter” whose mission it was to stand in the face of gale force wind and driving rain in order to share their estimation of the pain brought by stinging pellets of hail, sleet, and pavement. Some voices were more authentic than others. An on-camera voice from the midst of a cloud of something white and green shouted obscenities obscured by flotsam but impressive nonetheless. 

A savvy tyro simply refused to get out of the news van. “Not going out. Not going out.” Sensible and really all I needed to know. 

Today, here in Connecticut, we’re just back from a pleasant walk inside our snow globe, hanging up our scarves and mittens and about ready to bust out the soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. I’ll give the Eyewitness News team a chance to explain how they meant to say several inches and plowed driveways rather than light dusting and open roads, but no hard feelings. 

Who doesn’t love surprises?

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