2nd annual midwinter weather-forecasting tirade

Having finally found a site that can predict our area’s winter weather longer than 20 minutes in advance (www.illiniweather.com), I’m considerably calmer about weather forecasting this winter than I have been in previous winters.  However, when I feel the need for aggravation, I still go to www.weather.com or even better, www.accuweather.com.

I admit a lot of my problem with weather.com is that the way their pages are arranged, it’s nearly impossible to find the forecast.  One has to search for tiny links between ads, and to my intense irritation, many of those ads seem to contain things that are moving.  (I never click on moving ads, by the way.  The only thing I do with them is take note of the advertiser and not buy their product.)  small update: I just went to that site and noted that somewhere in the last few weeks they have consolidated the weather forecast in a large box and put the ads off to the side, and right now none of the ads are moving.  Gosh.

When you can find the forecast, however, it usually reads like something a malfunctioning computer wrote, and what can be understood turns out to be completely inaccurate.  Snow flurries turn out to be raging blizzards or we get 6″ of light snow, or 10 degrees F turns out to be -10 degrees F.

And then there’s accuweather.com, which is not only usually completely inaccurate but also alarmist.  On that site, a snow flurry is nonexistent — it’s always going to be that Great Lakes version of the nor’easter, totally catastrophic, 3 feet of lake-effect snow and counting.  They blare that a nighttime reading of 10 degrees is a historic cold snap.  And today we’re getting snow showers, and guess what?  They have a weather alarm up on the forecast page!

So we may get an inch of snow.  Oh dear me the sky is falling.  Or maybe they’re just putting lipstick on a pig and trying to sell it as a vice-presidential candidate, who knows.

Fact is, the weather in this area is a hard sell.  With few breaks, it’s usually one long gray snore.  Being west of the lakes, we have some lake-effect snow, but usually not  the mountainous storms that those east and south of the lakes frequently experience.  Until recently it was thought that our lake turned the tornado machine off (this was before we got a bunch of them in the city proper a few years back).  We did get hit with the remnants of a Pacific storm called Lowell one Saturday in 2008 and then the next day, the remains of Hurricane Ike, resulting in 12″ of rain in just under 48 hours and massive flooding.  As far as I know, that has happened once or maybe twice in recorded history and will likely never happen again in our lifetimes.  One time the temperature plummeted to -27.  Sometimes summer forgets us.  And we’ve had two winters with really epic snowfalls in the last 50 years.

More often we have winters with light to moderate snowstorms every other day, resulting in a considerable pile-ups of snow — but nothing we can’t handle.  We do get nasty little thunderstorms that blow things down, and like I said, 2006-2008 saw a little spate of tornadoes.  We had exactly one historic heatwave back in the mid 1990’s.  We have droughts; one or two have been severe.  We often have weeks without sunshine in the winter. 

But overall, the we have pretty boring weather here.  So why accuweather.com wants to work us up into a lather about something we learn to ignore (the weather) is beyond me.  And that’s on top of the irritation that accuweather.com is usually just plain inaccurate.

Like I said, I’m calmer this winter, having discovered the very straightforward and boring illiniweather.com, which is so boring that it’s usually dead-on accurate.  I recommend that site to everyone around here who has learned that the best thing one can do about northeastern Illinois weather is make an informed shrug.

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