It’s snow story

Here are some simple facts.

Weather is unpredictable. In the northeast we get snow during the winter months. Most of the time the falling snow is spread out over time. But as with any stochastic process, on occasion a lot of snow will fall in a short time, more than one can be reasonably prepared for. During such times, there will be disruptions, such as flights being cancelled, roads being treacherous, and delays. This will happen a couple of times each winter and is completely normal and to be expected.

So why is it that when it inevitably happens, the news media get so worked up over it? Why is it treated as being of major national and even international significance instead of just a local story? Why are cities berated for not being prepared to deal with it? A snowstorm is not like a flood or an earthquake that can cause widespread and lasting damage. It makes no sense for cities to spend a lot of money to be ready for a problem that will disappear by itself in a day or two.

It’s just snow, people. It’s just pure, clean water and it will go away.


  1. Eric says

    Mano –

    “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it.”

    The question is whether cities spend more on snow preparation & mitigation than is lost from reduced productivity, not to mention the danger of icy roads. I read once that every inch of snowfall costs New York City $1 million (that’s cost to the city itself, not counting reduced economic activity). Also, enough snow isn’t “just snow.” Roofs can collapse (such as the Metrodome in Minneapolis), roads can shut down, power lines can fall.

    I think a lot of the reason the damage from snowfall is so much less widespread than floods or earthquakes is because cities are able to (usually) prepare adequately; since so much money & time is spent on preparation, I think it makes sense to be at least a little humbled when Mother Nature outdoes us.

    If there’s enough snow to shut down a good-sized area of the country, including some of its largest cities, I think that qualifies as news.

  2. Scott says

    The reason its reported on so incessantly is because its a cheap story to report, non-controversial and everyone can relate to it. It’s pretty hard to accuse a news organization of bias when reporting the weather. Plus, the audience for TV news is getting older, and weather for some reason is something they’re more interested in hearing about. I remember as a kid in the ’70s, 4 – 5 inches of snow in Cleveland would barely get mentioned, but now it’s the lead story on the 6 p.m. news.

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