Christmas is over and back in its box in the attic. The jet stream is blowing hard across the Great Lakes and pummeling us with sub-zero wind chills and lake effect snow, arctic clippers and blowing down across Ohio and, this week, that newest hyperbolic wild weather phenomena–the BOMB CYCLONE (oh how the marketing brahs at The Weather Channel must have sighed whilst excavating that gem of a meteorological wonder)–is hitting the mainstream, joining Snowmageddon and Polar Vortex in that rarefied caste of ratings-generating American Idol Weather Terminology.
This is not to undermine the effects of winter storms and the havoc they wreak. Every time it sleets south of Fredericksburg, Virginia dozens of Sons & Daughters of the Confederacy are lost to, or injured in, wholly avoidable automobile accidents. (HINT: Stay home, Beauregard, that white stuff is slippery.) And Boston got spanked by Flash floods that froze (WTF?) entire neighborhoods in place, which is messed up. But it is Boston and, well, karma. Right? Somebody has to bear the burden of the Patriots’ deal with the devil, and it ain’t going to be living Vegan Ken doll QB Tom “Quinoa Salad” Brady.
What does trouble me about these Twitter-friendly parade of ridiculous terminology is that shade they’re throwing on the time-honored, proven-to-be-accurate method of winter storm appraisal, the good old-fashioned Deck & Patio Furniture photo. For as long as I can remember (admittedly, not as long as I used to be able to remember), the severity of winter storms has been evaluated using observable scientific method, most recently on the internet but for many years before that in the form of viewer-submitted photos and filler coverage by local news teams. Three generations learned to analyze the critical level of a “weather event” through this observable, utterly reliable data.
How would I know what winter was bringing to my good, decades-long friend Sally, who lives far away in Montana, if she didn’t apprise me of winter conditions north of Yellowstone with timely and evocative imagery of her deck, live and up to date? That’s right. These are my actual friend’s actual photos of her actual furniture.
It goes without saying that the level of personal connection forged between me and my friend–or any one of the millions of Americans who annually apprise the world of their on-deck snow conditions (looks like Sally has a nice 7 inch base with a few inches of powder on top)–exceeds anything a few bozos with an old meteorology textbook can manage with their horror-film vocabulary.
And, final, overlook the community-building that comes from the ubiquity of patio-furniture. I don’t think it is overstatement to say that these photos–and the sense of kinship they evoke–are one of the deep and abiding bonds that hold us together as a nation, and as a people. Stick that in your Bomb Storm and smoke it, why don’t you.