To warn? Or not to warn?

It’s got to suck to be a meteorologist. When do you issue a weather warning and when do you not? If you do it whenever there’s a chance of bad weather, you’ll often be wrong and no one will believe you anymore. If you seldom issue warnings, there will be lots of bad weather that people are not warned about.

Take today for example. The forecast was for freezing rain starting late in the morning, lasting for between four and eight hours. Accumulation was forecast at 1 cm to 4 cm of ice. A severe weather warning was issued. Nasty! People prepared for the worst. The warnings started late yesterday afternoon.

As a consequence, many people stayed home today. School buses were cancelled across many school boards. I thought about staying home but decided against it. The bus strike ended this past weekend so my former 40-50 minute commutes shrank to 25 minutes today. It wasn’t just the end of the strike, either. Traffic was lighter than it is in the summer.

You’re wondering what the weather was like. The story there is that there is no story. There was no freezing rain. None. The word is that it missed us, passing to the north. Don was watching the radar and a small line of precipitation passed by in the morning but we didn’t think that was it!

I can understand being wrong. Weather forecasting is not an exact science. But the update issued at 11 p.m. this evening reported that freezing drizzle was falling at the airport. Not forecast, but currently falling. You’d be right to say that I don’t live at the airport, but I live very close. I live closer to the airport than the length of the main runway! There’s been no freezing drizzle here in the past hour.

Weather conditions graphics courtesy of Environment Canada.

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