Thursday, December 18, 2008

Snow day!

winter tree

In other news, the whole reason I'm able to catch up with some posts is that we're snowed in. Yes, in Seattle!

Yesterday was spent first in a fever of expectation for snow and then a sinking feeling that maybe we'd all been played for fools. For instance, Seattle schools were closed for a snow day without any snow falling, and closer to home, I missed my ballet class because I was so certain the roads would be impassable by then that we ended up planning our last-minute panic errands in conflict with the start time.

Then we were up late into the night, finishing up personal packages (Christmas gifts as opposed to business ones for our online sales), and when we went to bed, I peeked out the blinds -- and what do you know, there it was, fluffy and flurrying in the streetlights.

We're missing our first of three holiday parties tonight. Who knows if the other two will be canceled or postponed as well. Tomorrow we have to get out to deliver our packages for our business. We're kind of like the postal workers in that way, only with a much easier route! We used to run our own cat-sitting business, caring for cats whose owners were away and who needed food, water, attention, and little necessities like insulin shots, and it's days like this that I appreciate we no longer have any pressing need to venture out into the icy mess. We took a walk down our street, and it's solid ice. Add in Seattle hills to the mix and a lack of snow plows an sanding trucks, and you can see how staying home is generally the best option when possible.

Anyway, as I was sitting around yesterday, feeling stupid for expecting a big snow storm in Seattle, I kept hitting refresh on to see, first, if the current forecast told me it was snowing (in lieu of standing up and looking outside) and, two, if the hour-by-hour forecast predicted it would be snowing soon. I kept watching the hour-by-hour snow prediction consistently staying an hour or two ahead of the current cloudiness, and I wondered if snow would just keep running away from us before we could catch up.

While I was wondering at the inaccuracy of the forecast, I Googled for anyone who had studied the issue and found this amusing page:

How good are the weather forecasts?

An enterprising computer whiz wrote a program to check the accuracy of BBC 5-day predictions versus what they stated actually happened on each day in question. Graciously allowing for items like "partly sunny" and "partly cloudy" to be close enough to the same thing, the researcher found that the weather predictors were right a little over half the time for one day out.

That made me laugh, and explained why there was no snow falling even as everyone was scurrying around preparing for it. (Seriously, when we were trying to get supplies for our party that was canceled, we found Safeway was out of Baco Bits, cream cheese and hot dog buns -- you know, the staples.) It doesn't explain why the Seattle public school system believed the warnings enough to cancel all the schools despite nary a flake in the sky, but it's more comforting to think that meteorology's a science rather than a confidence trick.

Photo courtesy of Mark Van Werven on stock.xchng because it's too cold to go out and take some myself


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