Perhaps I missed the Call for Entries in an obscure award competition, but is someone giving prizes for the worst snowstorm in history?
Maybe Chicagoans are desperate for another national championship (after winning the 2010 Stanley Cup), or possibly we just want potential visitors to know we have The Worst Weather on Earth.
The Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke reported that a “meteorological coup broke out” when “For a short time Friday (Feb. 11), the National Weather Service tried to shave 0.2 inches off the Blizzard of 2011’s snowfall total and downgrade it from the third-worst snowstorm in Chicago history to the fourth-worst.”
The weather “coup” shared the Trib’s Saturday front page with news of Hosni Mubarak’s reluctant resignation. (Might as well note that the Tribune’s layout staff missed an opportunity to run this head over both stories: “Emotions boil in Cairo while Chicagoans freeze.”)
Huppke reports that the National Weather Service decided to classify the recent blizzard, which dumped a hundred feet of snow on my car, as two snowstorms, not just one. This effectively reduced the officially recorded depth of the snow. Then, in a moment of meteor-illogical revisionist history, the weather service went into the record books and re-calculated the snowfall total for the 1979 blizzard.
At a time when they should have been trying to forecast when (if ever) the snow will melt, Chicago’s TV weather folk got on a conference call to express their displeasure with the weather service’s Jim Allsopp, complaining that the change in ranking would “shake the public’s confidence in weather forecasts,” as the Trib put it.
“It’s a psychological thing. What are people going to think?” WGN’s Tom Skilling is reported as saying.
It’s not like one side is more knowledgeable than the other. These guys are all professional, trained meteorologists (unlike the old days of TV weathercasts, when some were cartoonists, like P. J. Hoff).
Afraid of an Egyptian-style uprising among the TV people, the weather service capitulated and the 2011 blizzard’s record as No. 3 remains etched in the perma-freeze ice sculptures where they keep track of these things.
The net result is that between the social media-inspired peaceful uprising in Egypt and the Chicago weatherman coup, we have two cases of government backing down because of the media.