Blizzards Are Not What They Used To Be

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As a skier, the word blizzard always brings a smile to my face. The thought of heavy snow coupled with frigid temperatures and high winds, makes for an impressive display by mother nature.  But unfortunately, blizzards aren’t what they used to be. Years ago the definition of a blizzard included heavy snow, 1-3inches an hour (2.2-6.6cm/h) for a sustained period of time, (three consecutive hours), with sustained winds or gusts over 35 mph(56km/h) and the temperature had to be below 20F (-7C).  Visibility had to be below one-quarter of a mile (400m).  Today, temperature does not even fit in to the equation.  The snow doesn’t have to be falling heavily.  It could simply be blowing and drifting causing reduced visibilites.  But like everything today, even weather has been dummied down.  The standards and criteria for almost everything, is no longer what it used to be.  Championship boxing matches, used to be 15 rounds, today they’re 12.  In many communities around the country scores aren’t being kept during little league games so there are no losers.  The sixties had the Beatles, 2012 has Glee.  During the seventies there were some huge snowstorms, particularly in the winter of 1978.  There were two storms approximately ten days apart.  The first storm on January 26 left about eighteen inches (39.6cm) of snow in New York City and the storm on February 6 and 7 was even worse than that.  Neither storm officially qualified as a Blizzard at the time although the storm on February 6, came very close.  The point is, a Blizzard is a very special, unusual weather event.  It should not be “dummied down”.  It should only be the very rare storm that qualifies.  But of course the word “Blizzard” makes the event all that more newsworthy, exciting and dramatic.  And we are living in an age of drama.  Whether it’s those ridiculous reality shows or photos of people grieving as in the case of Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Blizzards are historic storms that occurred rarely, but now, because of the lowered requirements needed to qualify, we see them more often.  The weather has not gotten worse, the criterion and our expectations have been lowered.  It’s all a matter of perspective.

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