Saturday afternoon, I was in Iowa when it started to snow. With weather patterns the way they are, I knew that I’d be travelling into more snow Sunday driving back to Chicago. Weather is an important variable for people who are travelling. A light snow fall in town can be a blinding, accumulating travel hazard on the highway. Knowing what the road conditions are and what inclement weather drivers will face is valuable information. Is it a blizzard or a light dusting? How many inches? In the summer, there are thunderstorm and tornado watches and warnings. I still can’t remember which is which. If you’re with my sister when one of these comes up, the difference doesn’t matter, you’re going in the basement.
I went out to eat with my parent Saturday evening where the waitress—a blond who’d exhausted herself with a 14-hour day—informed us that there was a “winter advisory” out.
Now, as ill informed as I am about the difference between watches and warnings, I think “winter advisory” is just weathermen getting together and saying, “Let’s make our jobs legitimate when we have no weather to report. When it’s cold out we’ll call it a ‘Winter Advisory’!”
This is as absurd as having a Fall advisory or a Summer advisory. “Watch out for falling leaves. Ladies and gentlemen, just to be safe, we’re going to issue a Fall advisory, ” The National Weather Service is even in on the Winter Advisory kerfuffle. But who could say with a straight face, “The National Weather Service has issued a Summer Advisory. We encourage all people to take shelter or find some shade. It’s just too sunny outside today.” Oh wait, that’s what the UV Index is for.
I just don’t get how you can warn people about a season. Beware! It’s Spring outside today. You might want to wear layers, or at least grab a light jacket before heading out the door this morning.
While the weather forecasters are thinking up new ways to keep us advised, the economy has forced state and local road crews to find alternatives to salt for our streets, which is in short supply apparently. Just like snackers around the holidays, the roads are getting a mix of salty and sweet this year. The typical salt brine solution is now being supplemented with sugar beet juice. It looks like it started last year in Ohio and Indiana, then Chicago adopted it late in the season.
So, if you’re environmentally conscious but also concerned with appearing hip, you would do well next time you see snow removal trucks on the road to point them out to your friend and mention how great it is that they’re “beeting the streets.” If your friend looks at you funny, it’s clear that you should have compassion and enlighten her about why it’s no longer called “salting the streets.” You’ll be doing her a favor.