SNOMG! SNOWPOCALYPSE! SNOWMAGEDDON! SNOWTORIOUS B.I.G!
These are just a few clever labels friends have conjured up to describe the recent Midwestern blizzard. This historic storm is currently pounding and kneading Chicago like a kitchen full of nasty bread dough, and all I can do is watch the carnage from my window and blog about it.
Last night, as the wind, ice and snow kicked at the side of my building like some annoyingly angry karate kid with frozen fists, I was introduced to a new concept: Thundersnow. I was sitting on the couch with my boyfriend and cat, enjoying some rather delicious country chicken chowder I crocked all day and listening to the wind swirl fat white flakes around the street. Suddenly the room lit up in dazzling white light. The flash was so unexpected that all three of us looked at each other with wide eyes and soup-rimmed mouths.
“Was that … ?” I asked, mouth still gaping.
“I think so…” Chris replied, handing me a napkin.
“Heck yeah it was! Thundersnow is REAL!” Bruce meowed.
Then a rumble of thunder shook the sills.
This was Thundersnow: A thunderstorm that occurs amidst a blizzard. (I’m pretty sure the proper way to write it out is in two words: thunder snow, but I think “thundersnow” as one entity is more exciting). This phenomena was so fascinating that I instantly had a flashback to my childhood years of a Wizard-of-Oz-induced tornado obsession, which eventually turned into an overall obsession of weather.
Since diapers I’ve been addicted to weather reports. The discovery of The Weather Channel occurred when I was seven years old and my life was forever changed. From that time on, my bedroom TV glowed with the blue TWC logo 24-7. I loved to learn how weather worked, how it moved and how it impacted the globe. The uncontrollable force of nature captivated me, and for years I thought I would some day become a meteorologist.
Unfortunately, after shadowing a meteorologist in Lincoln, IL for a day when I was sixteen, I realized the profession isn’t quite as exciting as it appears on TWC. Although it is a career that requires a significant amount of scientific understanding and mental agility, I quickly discovered that the men and women who report the weather on the news (which is essentially what I wanted to do) aren’t always licensed meteorologists who study weather. Many simply get the report from the local Doppler Radar station and share it with the masses by exhibiting graceful arm motions in front of a green screen. The real weather predictors work in front of computers most of the day (and night), monitoring high and low pressure systems and making sure severe weather warnings are distributed in a timely manner. (Side note: One guy at this particular station was nicknamed “Dr. Death” when he worked at a station in Oklahoma because he did not issue a tornado warning in ample time. His mistake resulted in a number of local injuries and deaths. I remember feeling uncomfortable when they shared this story with smiles on their faces. I thought Dr. Death was not an incredibly tactful nickname but who was I to judge?)
I’m not stating that the weatherman/woman on the local news is reporting something he/she knows nothing about. The weather reporters understand weather systems and probably have a degree in broadcast meteorology, but when it comes to hunkering down and actually making the big scientific predictions, they typically rely on the local experts for the scoop.
Once I learned this I had an internal dilemma: did I want to report the weather or predict it? Predicting it sounded more intellectually stimulating … but reporting it sounded more fun.
I eventually decided I wasn’t good enough at science to pursue meteorology either way, but occasionally I wonder how exciting my life might be as a meteorologist during an epic thundersnow event.
And now its time to find my car in a pile of snow avec mon partner in crime. In case I die out there, let it be known that this was entirely his idea.