So New York and the East Coast more generally got much less snow than was predicted, an event which provoked this memorable headline: "Men Promise Brooklyn Women 8 to 12 Inches, Deliver 4.3."
In a new Time column, I try to draw some lessons from this latest example of overhyped weather coverage. Among them:
Can we shut up about weather for a while, especially weather that is totally in keeping with the seasons in which it's taking place? It's only 2015, but it seems like we get storms of the century about every three to six months. Our parents famously walked three miles (uphill both ways, mind you) in sub-zero and scorching temperatures in shoes made of detergent-box cardboard while also mining coal and smoking unfiltered cigarettes by the carton. And here we are, snug in our all-wheel-drive vehicles and Gore-Tex weather wear, demanding work and school be canceled on a 40% likelihood of snow flurries….
As one Twitter wag put it in response to the non-blizzard of the moment, "Remember: no snow = global warming, lots of snow = global warming, less snow than you thought = global warming." The important thing being, of course, that we always feel bad about ourselves no matter what's happening. The United States doesn't have colonies anymore, but we can still feel bad that our productive might is somehow making the world a worse place….
Which leads to a second lesson to learn from this latest snow job: To politicians, any and every day is a campaign rally just waiting to happen. Within recent memory, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took heat for failing to react quickly and efficiently to snowstorms, among other weather events. It's funny, isn't it, the way that our elected leaders never really seem to be there when it matters but are always quick to petition for extra money from taxpayers, the federal government, or private businesses for the next big catastrophe?