April 6, 2024

Severe thunderstorms might blot out the eclipse for parts of the U.S.

A long-duration spell of rainy, stormy weather will cover much of the southern United States through the upcoming week, kicking off with a round of severe thunderstorms on the southern Plains on Monday.

Did you know there's also a total solar eclipse happening on Monday? I know! They kept that secret really well.

It's going to be a strange day across the area as thunderstorms are expected to coincide with the moon's shadow as it passes over the region, blotting out the sun for several minutes along the path of totality.

Some lucky folks in Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas will see three to four full minutes of night-like darkness at the peak of the eclipse early Monday afternoon, complete with colors on the horizon that make it appear as if you're surrounded by a 360° sunset.

Millions of visitors are flocking to the path of totality across the U.S. and Canada hoping to catch a glimpse of the special moment. Darkness descends regardless of cloud cover, but folks who manage to see the total eclipse amid clear skies will experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment.

The position of the total solar eclipse in five-minute increments, overlaid on the SPC's severe weather outlook for Monday.

But those pesky clouds are likely going to get in the way for much of the eclipse's track across the southern U.S.

A trough digging across the southern Rockies to begin the week will kick off a round of strong to severe thunderstorms throughout the southern Plains. Widespread severe weather is expected through Monday afternoon and evening, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Much of the action will focus on Texas, with a risk for severe storms spilling into neighboring states.

Damaging wind gusts and "very large" hail are the predominant risks with Monday's storms, the SPC said in its outlook on Saturday. This is a little riskier than normal given the number of people visiting the region. The risk for traffic jams is bad news on a normal severe weather day, let alone when there's a hailstorm during a mass exodus.

View-wise, it's not the end of the world if your view of the eclipse is obscured by clouds. Storms popped up here in North Carolina during the August 2017 eclipse. We had 94 percent coverage of the sun at the peak of the eclipse, and I could still see the crescent sun through the storm clouds that day.

If nothing else, this will be an interesting case study for how the eclipse affects active weather. I wrote a bit about how eclipses affect the weather for The Weather Network last year.

Temperatures noticeably drop along the path of totality, so much so that we see fair-weather cumulus clouds dissipate for several hours in the wake of the moon's shadow. The temporary loss of daytime heating may have a tiny effect on any thunderstorms ongoing during totality.

Looking beyond the eclipse, stormy weather will continue throughout the week as a robust and slow-moving low-pressure system develops.

Aside from the risk for more rounds of  severe thunderstorms, we could see a threat for widespread flooding 3-5+ inches of rain falls on a huge swath of the south and Ohio Valley through the end of the week.

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April 1, 2024

Widespread severe thunderstorms expected overnight into Tuesday

We're in the midst of the first widespread severe weather outbreak of the season across a large swath of the central United States as a feisty low-pressure system cuts across the region.

The Storm Prediction Center issued a moderate risk—a 4 out of 5 on the scale measuring the risk for severe weather—for Oklahoma on Monday and again for much of Ohio on Tuesday. These are the first moderate risks issued anywhere in the U.S. since August 7 of last year.

All modes of severe weather are likely with the storms that fire up over the next couple of days. We've already seen multiple severe thunderstorms roll across the southern Plains and the Midwest on Monday, with plenty of large hail and a few reported wind gusts of 70+ mph.

The Setup

The hubbub is the result of a low-pressure system trucking across the central Plains tonight. This low will continue strengthening as it heads toward the Great Lakes into Tuesday.

The Weather Prediction Center's surface forecast for Tuesday afternoon.

It's the classic springtime severe weather setup. A steady stream of warm, humid air flowing out of the Gulf will provide ample fuel for thunderstorms to flourish as this system moves through the region.

Upper-level winds are favorable for thunderstorms to quickly turn severe, growing into both supercell thunderstorms and robust squall lines.

Safety Tips

This is our first widespread severe weather outbreak in a while. Anxiety is high, made worse by social media storm enthusiasts who treat it like an adrenaline sport.

Not everyone under the risk for severe weather will get hit by severe weather. Keep an eye on the radar, look out for severe weather alerts, and have a plan ready to take shelter from bad storms whether you're at home, work, school, or even the grocery store.

Strong winds are the single greatest threat to safety during severe weather—almost entirely due to trees blowing into homes and vehicles. If you live in an area at risk for overnight severe weather, please consider sleeping in a room where trees or tree limbs don't loom outside. 

Make sure you have a way to receive severe weather alerts when you're asleep, and ensure that emergency alerts for tornado warnings are activated on your smartphone. These noisy push alerts can provide critical moments of heads-up before bad weather arrives.

Round One: Monday Night into Tuesday

Our first round of storms was already in progress by the time this post went live around 8:30 p.m. Eastern on Monday.

Multiple supercells in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas left behind large hail and wind damage in their wake. Supercells are thunderstorms with rotating updrafts, a feature that makes these storms resilient and capable of producing more intense severe weather.

As we so often see during these outbreaks, these supercell thunderstorms will eventually merge into a long, broken squall line that'll chug east through the overnight hours. 

Forecasters expect these storms to continue producing widespread severe weather across Missouri, Arkansas, and Illinois overnight Monday and into early Tuesday morning.

A model image showing a potentially severe squall line around 2:00 a.m. CDT on Tuesday. (WSV3)

The main threat with the overnight squall lines will be damaging straight-line winds, with many of the storms capable of producing significant wind gusts of 75+ mph. These storms will push east through early Tuesday morning, likely reaching Indiana and Ohio in time for the morning commute.

There's also a risk for tornadoes embedded in these squall lines—you'll sometimes hear them called "QLCS tornadoes," taking their name from the technical term for a squall line. These tornadoes happen quickly and often with reduced tornado warning lead time.

Round Two: Tuesday

We'll see the low-pressure system moving into the lower Great Lakes during the day Tuesday, dragging a cold front into a vast plume of warm, humid air parked over the region.

Forecasters expect the atmosphere to recover from Tuesday morning's storms in time for a fresh round of severe thunderstorms to build over the Ohio Valley and Mid-South by the afternoon hours.

A model image showing the general areas where we might see severe storms around 5:00 p.m. EDT Tuesday. (WSV3)

The strongest thunderstorms are likely over eastern Indiana and much of Ohio covered by the moderate risk. Dynamics here are favorable for supercells that would be capable of producing tornadoes—some of which could be strong and long-lived—as well as hail larger than golf balls and damaging wind gusts.

Farther south, storms are likely to form into one or more squall lines as they push through Kentucky, Tennessee, and northern Alabama. Damaging winds and embedded tornadoes would be the predominant threats with these storms. 

The risk for severe weather will continue pushing east overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, with severe storms possibly crossing the Appalachians and heading into the Virginias and Carolinas. Damaging winds and an isolated tornado would be the main threat with these remaining storms.

[Satellite image via NOAA]

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March 22, 2024

Heavy snows, flooding rains likely as weekend coastal storm looms

An ugly weekend is shaping up along much of the East Coast as a potent low-pressure system rolls up the Atlantic seaboard.

Our developing system will feed on plenty of moisture streaming in from the south. This ample reserve of evaporated paradise will fuel heavy rains for much of the I-95 corridor, as well as bountiful snows across interior sections of New England.

This low-pressure system was already impressive in its infancy as it got its act together across the southeastern states on Friday.

Powerful thunderstorms rocked the southern tip of Florida, prompting tornado warnings and flash flood alerts across the Florida Keys.

There was even a remarkable long-lived supercell thunderstorm that tracked along the north-central shores of Cuba on Friday afternoon, dropping very large hail west and south of Havana.

We'll see this storm intensify as it rolls up the coast into Saturday, producing very heavy rains along its track. Expect widespread downpours to envelop the I-95 corridor from Richmond to Boston through the day Saturday, lingering into Saturday night for many areas.

Most communities will see several inches of rain in a relatively short period of time. Flash flood watches are in effect from Washington, D.C., up to Boston in anticipation of flooded roads and rising waters on vulnerable creeks.

Farther north, our moisture-laden storm will run into a slug of cold air that'll allow impressive snows to plaster towns from the New York's Tug Hill Plateau all the way through northern Maine. 

The National Weather Service expects more than a foot of snow to blanket the Adirondacks, much of Vermont, northern New Hampshire, and almost all of interior Maine west of I-95.

(Forecast graphic via NWS Caribou)

Things get tricky closer to the coast, where temperatures hovering around freezing will make for mixed precipitation types throughout the storm. Snow will give way to periods of freezing rain or plain ol' rain through Saturday night, then change back over to all snow on Sunday as cold air wraps around the departing system.

Folks around Augusta and Bangor may see an extended period of freezing rain during the switch on Saturday. Areas that see more than one-quarter of an inch of ice accretion may see tree damage and power outages.

The good news, at least, is that this storm isn't going to linger. This weekend's quick-hitting thump will give way to calm conditions and warming temperatures by the beginning of next week.

[Satellite image via NOAA]

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March 12, 2024

Major, disruptive snowstorm aims for Denver and Colorado Springs

Tuesday's highs in the 60s will feel like a distant memory before long as a major snowstorm brews along and east of the Colorado Rockies.

Widespread snowfall totals of one to two feet are on the way from Fort Collins down through Colorado Springs. Roads will be impassable as the heavy, wet snow begins piling up late Wednesday and through the day Thursday.

In addition to travel issues, tree damage and power outages are possible as the wet snow weighs down branches and power lines.

Modeled surface dew points and surface winds for around 12 a.m. Thursday (MDT). [Tropical Tidbits]

This is a dicey setup that's had meteorologists on the edge of their seats for the past couple of days. An upper-level low swinging over the Rockies will give rise to a storm over the central Plains. This storm will produce several days of severe weather through the center of the country.

Our budding storm will also help scoop up moisture and hurl it toward eastern Colorado. You can see the moisture pushing into eastern Colorado on the model image above, which shows surface dew points around midnight on Thursday.

Moist and persistent northeasterly winds blowing into Colorado will rise up and over the terrain—a formidable bout of upsloping that'll feed this bout of widespread heavy snowfall.

Snow will develop along the Front Range and the foothills through the second half of Wednesday, with rain changing to snow for communities along I-25 into Wednesday night.

The latest forecast from the National Weather Service calls for 12-18 inches of snow for the Denver and Boulder metros, with 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast down in Colorado Springs. Communities higher in the foothills could easily see two or more feet of snow by the end of the day Thursday, with more than three feet of snow possible for the highest elevations.

That's...a solid thump of snow! Denver averages about 7.8" of snow during the month of March. The city's snowiest March on record occurred back in 2021, when 34.0" of snow fell on the city—more than two feet of which fell in one historic thump. If Denver hits 18" on the high end of its predicted range, it'd be a top-ten March snowfall since records began back in 1875.

It's going to be a wet snow to boot. The Weather Prediction Center's Winter Storm Severity Index calls for "major" to "extreme" impacts across the region, which is a solid indication forecasters expect major disruptions as a result of this storm.

Shovelling a foot or more of slushy snow will increase the risk for heart attacks and muscle injuries. Please don't overdo it. The weight of the snow will also increase the potential for tree damage and power outages, which could be significant across the Front Range and the foothills.

Conditions across the region should improve after the snow clears out late Thursday. Temperatures will remain on the chillier side of normal heading into the weekend, with warmer air arriving by next week. Daytime highs may return to the 60s by next Tuesday.

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February 17, 2024

How an incredible band of snow developed over the Northeast on Saturday

One of the most impressive bands of snow we've seen in a long time developed over a narrow swath of the Northeast overnight Friday into early Saturday, creating an intense snowfall gradient over very short distances.

A fast-moving low-pressure system tracked out of the Midwest toward the East Coast through the day Friday, producing heavy snow along its path from St. Louis to New York City.

A radar snapshot from around 1:30 a.m on February 17, 2024 (RadarOmega)

This wasn't an ordinary clipper system, though. While weak systems like this tend drop a few inches of snow before moving on their way, we saw a dramatic band of snow develop on the northern side of the low.

The band left behind enhanced snowfall totals from Indiana to New York, reaching its peak intensity over portions of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

A tremendous gradient sliced through Allentown, Pennsylvania, with folks on the south side of town witnessing 13" of snow while neighborhoods north of town saw just 3" of snow. Farther east, observers measured 10" of snow in Brooklyn, while only 2" of snow fell in Central Park just a dozen miles to the north.

Even more impressive is that parts of New Jersey saw snowfall rates of 5" per hour at the peak of the snowfall. This kind of convective banding is something more like what you'd see off the Great Lakes rather than eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey. Instead of lake-warmed air fueling intense bands of snow, we saw intense frontogenesis along the northern side of the low.

Frontogenesis in the mid-levels of the atmosphere early Saturday morning. (NOAA/SPC)

Frontogenesis occurs when an airmass on the move collides with another airmass nearby. This interaction creates a stretching motion through the atmosphere. Winds slowing down and fanning out leaves a 'void' in the atmosphere that air has to rush upward to fill, a rising motion that creates a convective band of very heavy snowfall.

We often see this process during classic nor'easters when a shield of very heavy snow develops on the northwestern side of the storm. But it's not limited to nor'easters—conditions were just right for this relatively weak system to generate the intense dynamics needed to drop a tremendous amount of snow across a narrow stretch of real estate.

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February 11, 2024

From 60s to Snow: The Northeast's Nor'easter's Set To Hit Hard Tuesday

It's been a long wait, but we've finally got a classic nor'easter brewing for the eastern half of the United States.

A foot of snow is likely to fall on Tuesday where temperatures climbed up into 60°F on Saturday. While this one isn't going to bring the blockbuster I-95 snows that weather enthusiasts gush about for the rest of their lives, this will be an impactful storm for a full one-third of the country.

We've got one heck of an upper-level low scooping through the southern half of the U.S. on Sunday and Monday. This feature, along with a ripping-fast jet stream, will help develop and strengthen a robust low-pressure system at the surface over the next few days. 

A model image depicting the upper-level pattern early Monday morning. (PolarWx/Tomer Burg)

Ample moisture streaming into the storm from the Gulf of Mexico will provide plenty of juice to fuel thunderstorms, heavy rains, and eventually heavy snowfall once the storm rolls into the Northeast late Monday into early Tuesday.

Severe weather risk

We're already feeling the start of this robust storm across the south where heavy rain and severe thunderstorms are ongoing from Texas to Mississippi.

The Storm Prediction Center issued an enhanced risk for severe weather on Sunday—a 3 out of 5 on the scale—stretching from the Houston metro area east into central Mississippi, with a broader risk for severe weather radiating out to cover the northern Gulf Coast up toward Birmingham and Atlanta.

The main risk we'll see with any thunderstorms that develop on Sunday will be damaging wind gusts of 60+ mph and hail the size of quarters or larger. A few tornadoes are possible, as well, especially in and around the enhanced risk area.

A risk for tornadoes on Super Bowl Sunday is a pretty nerve-wracking prospect for broadcast meteorologists in the region. It's likely that some CBS affiliates will have to cut into game-day programming for live coverage of tornado warnings.

Local television news stations are required to cover tornado warnings. It's a public service they're compelled to fulfill in exchange for holding a federal broadcast license. Getting the word out that deadly severe weather is imminent is more important than any show or sporting event, angry viewers and hateful comments be damned.

The risk for severe weather will push east into the day Monday, with a threat for damaging wind gusts spreading over most of the southeast as our low-pressure system continues strengthening as it tracks into the Mid-Atlantic.

Sharp cutoff in heavy snowfall totals

After the severe weather wanes, attention turns to the threat for disruptive snows across the Northeast.

This is going to be an all-or-nothing ordeal for many folks from northern Pennsylvania east toward coastal New England. The Weather Prediction Center's Winter Storm Severity Index (WSSI) shows "major impacts" are likely across eastern Massachusetts, centered around the Boston area, as a result of the very heavy snowfall expected on Tuesday.

Heavy snow will spread over much of Pennsylvania early Tuesday morning as our storm pushes into the region. We'll see snow steadily push east through the morning hours Tuesday as the low-pressure system intensifies and tracks toward the coast. 

This will be a daytime storm for the region, with very heavy snowfall rates and gusty winds plastering northern Pennsylvania through southern Maine into the evening commute before the snow eventually tapers off through the evening and overnight hours.

A very sharp cutoff in precipitation on the north side of the storm, combined with a sharp changeover to rain near the center of the low, will produce a swath of heavy snowfall that rapidly tapers to a dusting to the north and south.

Double-digit snowfall totals are likely for portions of northeastern Pennsylvania, upstate New York, northern Connecticut, and just about all of Massachusetts. This is likely going to cause traffic jams across the area, especially if people head to work and school in the morning and then try to head home after the snow begins. 

Slight changes in the track of the storm can have huge implications on snowfall totals with a cutoff this sharp. A nudge of five or ten miles to the north or south will drag those hefty snowfall totals right along with it.

If the current forecasts hold up, this is likely going to be Boston's largest snowstorm in two years. The city's last big-time snowstorm was 23.9" on January 29, 2022. The city's only measured 21.6" of snow in total across all of the storms they've seen in the past two winters combined.

[Satellite image via NOAA]

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February 3, 2024

Flooding risk as atmospheric river fuels rainy, windy storm sweeping into California

A series of systems rolling through the eastern Pacific will wash ashore in California over the next couple of days, fueling a spell of foul weather across the state. 

Heavy rains are likely up and down the coast, with southern California facing the greatest risk for flooding and landslides. Prolific mountain snows are likely across higher elevations throughout the Sierra. Gusty winds are likely across the state early into the workweek, which may lead to tree damage and power outages.

A quick look at the pattern across the country this weekend almost looks like an image you'd see in the El Niño chapter of a meteorology textbook. A strong jet stream draped across the entire southern half of the U.S. is exactly what you'd expect to see during an El Niño winter.

A model image of the jet stream on Saturday afternoon. (Tropical Tidbits)

An upper-level trough digging into the West Coast will drive the active weather over the next couple of days. The most impactful conditions will arrive courtesy of a low-pressure system hitting the coast late Saturday through Sunday, though heavy rains will continue Monday and Tuesday across the southern half of the state.

Powerful southwesterly winds hauling tail into the California coast is dragging a plume of tropical moisture straight from Hawaii. This ribbon of elevated moisture—called an atmospheric river—will fuel the drenching rains we'll see across California over the next few days. Atmospheric rivers provide a vast reserve of moisture for storms to tap into to create excessive rainfall rates.

A model animation showing the atmospheric river moving into California through Tuesday, Feb. 6. (PolarWx/Tomer Burg)

Rain is already starting to come ashore in California on Saturday afternoon, and we'll see the rain increase in coverage and intensity through the overnight hours and into the day Sunday.

We'll see the rain slacken a bit for the northern half of the state as this initial system moves east. However, the heart of the atmospheric river will continue streaming over southern California through at least Tuesday, providing ample opportunity for bouts of heavy rain to continue throughout the area.

The Weather Prediction Center's latest forecast calls for 3-5 inches of rain for just about the entire California coast from San Diego all the way up to near Eureka. It's going to be a soggy couple of days for San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

Higher terrain will enhance rainfall totals up and down the coast—especially along the Transverse Ranges, where 5-7 inches of rain is in the forecast with the potential for some areas to see locally higher rainfall totals.

Folks in the Central Valley will benefit (or suffer, depending on your point of view) from the rain shadow effect, with less than an inch of rain over the next week for communities like Bakersfield and Fresno.

As usual, a glut of torrential rain heading for California is a recipe for widespread flash flooding and landslides. The greatest risk for flooding exists across southern California.

The usual safety spiel is extra important this time around: Never attempt to drive across a flooded roadway. It's impossible to tell how deep the water is until it's too late, and California's rugged terrain makes it more likely that the road is washed-out beneath the water. 

Precipitation will fall as heavy snow across the Sierra above 3,000 feet. Freezing levels will rise to 4,000 to 6,000 feet as mild air flows inland with the surge of subtropical moisture. Several feet of snow and whiteout conditions are likely in areas expecting all snow, which will force some road closures through the mountains as the heavy, blowing snow will be extremely difficult or downright impossible.

Widespread gusty winds are likely as this initial storm rolls across the state Saturday night through Sunday. High wind warnings and wind advisories are in place for most of California. Gusts of 40+ mph are possible in areas under a wind advisory, while gusts of 60+ mph are expected for communities under high wind warnings.

The combination of strong winds and heavy rainfall will lead to a risk for tree damage and power outages. Avoid rooms where trees or tree limbs may fall through the walls or roof during high winds, and try not to park beneath trees if you can help it.

[Satellite image courtesy of NOAA]

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January 21, 2024

Why do adults act so darn weird about wishing for snow?

Snow upends our lives in memorable and sometimes bizarre ways. A hint of wintry weather in the forecast wakes up our inner kids more than any other conditions.

Snowmen, sledding, shoveling, crunchy footsteps amid the silent nights. Every bit of it stirs a sense of nostalgia for those of us who grew up with classic winter weather. It's not just filler or background scenery—snow is a tangible event. It's weather with a purpose.

But some folks take that internal awakening to a childish extreme, lashing out in absurd and even obscene ways when their hopes and dreams of snow are dashed.

If you've ever seen the comment thread on any meteorologist's post about snow, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Fully grown adults aggressively rooting for snow, as if their combative comments and arguing can manifest a big, hearty storm into existence. 

"You're only calling for a dusting? Did you see this morning's run of this weather model? I bet you didn't even look at that. This has SURPRISE written all over it."

"This trough is moving a lot slower than predicted—this is going to be the BIG ONE and you can take that to the bank!"

Every post wishing for snow gets pushback from someone who has (sometimes pretty valid) reasons for wishing that the snow doesn't happen. Frothing arguments begin between "IT MUST SNOW" and "NEVER AGAIN." And the weirdness gets even worse during and after the storm.

"I never said take it to the bank. It should've been snowing by now and it's not. TOTAL BUST. Winter's dead. Try again next year."

"This is total crap. How did the snow break around us? You said it was going to hit!"

"You said 2-4 inches and we only got 2 inches at my house. They still pay you?"

It's...so strange the way entire adults with families and careers seemingly morph into feral trolls whenever there's a potential snowfall on the horizon. 

Enjoying a good snowstorm and rooting for snow is one thing. Acting like a grownup brat whose entire mental well-being is wrapped up in a blanket of snow is not healthy, not normal, and incredibly off-putting.

What on earth is all that about, anyway?

Untangling the web of threads to figure out why people act the way they do on the internet is an impossibly large task. There are plenty of clues that help reveal why snow is a particular flash point above all the top-level chaos in the world that rightly deserves a bit of outrage.

Latent 'Snow Day Trauma'

My long-running theory about this bizarre phenomenon is that missing a snowstorm rips away the unhealed scab of childhood disappointment.

It's the 80s or 90s, you're a kid watching The Weather Channel, and you see a snow icon pop up in the extended forecast. Could it snow? Is it possible? You check the weather every day and see that little snow icon get heavier and closer. Meteorologists start talking about the forecast with promising jargon—system, accumulations, Arctic blast...it all seems like it's really happening.

The night before a potential winter storm is electric. It's cold and the air just smells like snow. Anticipation is through the roof. They said some stuff on the news about "mixing" and "track," but you heard snow and your parents got chips and bread from the store. It seems like a foregone conclusion that tomorrow will be a snow day, the unscheduled holiday that almost every kid dreams about.

You wake up at 4:30 the next morning and rush to the window to see the concrete shimmering beneath a cold, steady rain. It sets off a meteorological version of the stages of grief—this can't be happening, those jerks said it would snow, maybe it'll change over soon, aww man, I'm gonna have to go to school today.

Every kid who grew up in snowy parts of the country—especially somewhere like the I-95 corridor along the East Coast—is well acquainted with the high hopes of a snow day crashing to the ground with the brutal track of an unfulfilled storm. Dry air, warm temperatures, and an unfavorable track can seal the demise of a potential snowstorm before it ever had a chance.

Graduating snatches some of the fun out of snowstorms

The first snowstorm after you graduate high school doesn't hit quite the same. You've had a solid 13+ years of training for this. It's routine at this point. Excitement grows at the prospect of snow and crescendos the night before the looming storm. 

And when you wake up the next morning, that first snowy morning after earning your degree, you look out the window and it really did snow. Sure, the roads are covered and the schools are closed. But what good does it do you now that you're an adult?

Joyful snow-filled days spent with loved ones are memories we can cherish forever. Even as adults we can build snowmen, go sledding, goof around shoveling, and soak in those crunchy footsteps amid the silent night.

The anticipation for all that admittedly still falls a little flat, though, without that childlike yearning for a responsibility-free day off from life.

I grew up just a few miles from I-95 in northern Virginia. There were plenty of mornings as a kid I'd stare out the window on the verge of tears when a snow day I'd hoped for washed away with a cold, unexpected rain. I understand that feeling and I know firsthand how hard it is to shake that disappointment of snow that never falls even long after reaching adulthood.

But when you read these comment threads and see shouting matches erupt over the track of a snowstorm or a few degrees worth of difference between this weather model and that one, taking a step back really clarifies what's going on.

Those angry snow-shouters, in that moment, aren't themselves—they're the kid they were a few decades ago, shouting at the clouds to call off school tomorrow.

Loss of snow days may (sadly) solve the issue

What hasn't helped matters recently is the fact that the I-95 corridor, that same area so often teased by the thin line between epic snows and depressing rain, just this month ended a historic two-year snow drought. The lead-up to those drought-busting snows was almost deafening on social media. Any hint that the snow might turn into a near-miss would've gone as well as lighting a match in a sawmill.

The combativeness is only amplified by the fact that everyone is more ready to fight over everything these days. People have always been on edge. Throw political instability and a life-upending pandemic into the mix and...phew.

I'm not sure we'll ever be able to get past it. Policing emotions never ends well for anyone involved. But I do think this effect will wane with time as school districts gradually—and unfortunately—begin to phase out the entire idea of "snow days." 

The onset of COVID hastened the shift to virtual learning. Now that the infrastructure is in place for teachers to teach remotely and for kids to never know a moment's separation from their schoolwork, many school districts are ditching unscheduled days off in favor of "virtual learning days" instead.

Snow-covered roads? No problem! Put that sled down and hit the books, kid. You've got to log on to class in 30 minutes.

I could write another thousand-word rant on why that's tragic and we desperately need to let kids be kids. But on this one bizarre issue—adults flipping out over snow like they're kids who didn't study for tomorrow's test—the ultimate loss of snow days might even out the disproportionate emotions surrounding snow.

If kids aren't getting snow days at all, their parents might be less likely to feel like they're missing out by proxy. And as those kids grow up, they won't know what it's like to watch hopes of a snow day dashed by a busted forecast...since they'll rarely have hope of a free day off.

[Stock images courtesy of Unsplash]

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