- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Whew. It has been tough out there this week after the 28-flake blizzard of the century that led to massive school closings, countless motorists trapped on impassable thoroughfares around the region and overworked members of the National Guard entrusted to make food drops by helicopter to the housebound masses.

Give the local storm-team television desks credit. The forecasters, with bugged-out eyes and fear oozing from every pore, almost got it right.

When the blizzard of 2005 finally descended on the region, it packed all the wallop of the 98-pound weakling who gets sand kicked into his face at the beach. We were rid of this one in about the blink of an eye.

Just a reminder to everyone: As always, unless you are a storm-team reporter, try to stay off the treacherous roadways.

As you know, storm-team reporters get to have all the weather-related fun, especially during hurricane season, when they try to stand up to the storm as a public service, which results in each reporter being plastered against a building wall and shown to have an oddly contorted face from either the fierce wind or too many Botox injections.

The only problem with being a storm-team reporter in the winter in Washington is that sometimes the storm-team reporter has to drive to International Falls, Minn., to find snow on the ground, and then the person has to sell Washington on the premise that the snow is coming our way, and it is coming hard, and you better be prepared to deal with it, because if you are not prepared to deal with it, well, you know what happens then. And it won’t be pretty, so there.

Of course, some people are unhappy with the outcome of the latest storm of the century, which just goes to show you that some people cannot take a joke, especially if they are stuck at home with rowdy children.

They felt the terror emanating from their television screen in the days leading up to the natural disaster, and being the good citizens that they are, they immediately drove to the nearest Home Depot in preparation, whereupon they stood in the line leading into the store for hours, only to learn upon entering that the last roll of duct tape already had been purchased.

They were unhappy, because after the storm concluded its frightening business, they were able to remove the one-flake buildup from the sidewalk with one swipe of their shoe. In other parts of the region that received higher snow accumulations, it took two swipes of the shoe to clear the driveways and sidewalks.

Yes, we know already. A weather forecast is an inexact science. Weather systems do not always track in a neat fashion. And sometimes Doppler radar endures a really bad hair day.

So what can meteorologists do other than study their tarot cards, computer models, airplane models, the models in the latest Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, look out the window and make the best available guess?

It is not so much that Washington’s meteorologists appear to be graduates of the 50/50 School of Forecasting.

People can forgive that. We are getting ready to celebrate a baseball team that comes out on top only .414 percent of the time. So, in that context, 50/50 is fairly good.

But here’s the thing about the pre-storm drill that drives everyone bonkers, literally: It is somewhat disconcerting to watch a storm-team reporter breathe into a brown paper bag while hyperventilating live from West Virginia.

It would be a whole lot more comforting if our storm-team reporters exuded confidence before Mother Nature was about to smack us again.

Instead, our storm-team reporters worry about everything. They even worry about hangnails, paper cuts, dandruff, pinkeye and the 3 feet of snow in Zanesville, Ohio.

Alas, to paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt, it seems the only thing we have to fear is the fear of a storm-team reporter.

One last note: Possible snow in two days.

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