Texans are known for closely monitoring the weather, and with good reason. Winter, spring, summer, or fall; you never know what might befall.
I made that up, although the first part is lifted from a Carole King song. If someone else already said it, please don’t tell me. An internet search failed to find it anywhere.
This week’s weather left Brownwood residents asking either “what happened” or “how could we have been so lucky” — depending on your point of few. I’m in the group wondering what happened — actually, wondering how something didn’t happen.
The answer to both questions, of course, is geography. Cities only a short drive from Brownwood received inches of snow.
When weather forecasters overstate the likelihood of adverse weather, it’s not necessarily bad. No one wants to be caught by surprise. If you expect the worst and the worst doesn’t happen, that’s a relief.
Weather forecasting seems to be as much of an art as it is a science, and the combination of both has led to amazingly accurate predictions. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen forecasters announce that such-and-such city will see heavy rain starting at such-and-such time as a cold front moves through, and then it happened.
That’s vital information to have, especially in the spring and fall when tornadoes generated by seasonal thunderstorms are most likely to form.
During winter, Brownwood residents might be forgiven for any overreaction, which can lead to over-anticipation. Most forecasts will be targeted less to our specific area than they are to a general region.
If you don’t consult local, specifically Brownwood, forecasts, you might be looking to media in Abilene or the Metroplex for weather information. Since those are north of here, they are looking at weather conditions 50 miles or more away from where we live. Still, that’s better than the alternative — getting our weather from Austin area media.
At the time this was being written around noon Wednesday, the temperature in Austin was in the mid-40s. At the same time, it was snowing in Abilene with a temperature in the mid-20s. Back home in Brownwood, we had cloudy skies, no snow, and a temperature hovering right around freezing.
News media have a large territory to serve, and what will probably happen 20 miles from one place can turn out to be of slim or no probability on the street where you live.
As I type this, I am dutifully monitoring a number of broadcasts and online weather reports. They show snow on the ground very close to Brownwood, but as I look out into my back yard, the only things visible on the ground are fallen tree leaves waiting for someone to rake.
My childhood was spent in an area where large snowfalls were common. I recall one month when I was in junior high when 5 or 6 inches of snow fell on every Wednesday in March. Classes were cancelled, but later we had to stay in school well into June.
My sister, a teacher by profession, still lives in that area, and she has always cherished her “snow days.” Now retired, she loves them just the same.
While working, I didn’t like ice and snow. When you’re employed by a daily newspaper as I was until retirement, work must go on. Winter weather is big news.
But since retiring, it doesn’t matter. I don’t mind snow.
This week, I was prepared for wintry weather. I took out the trash. I made sure we were stocked up on milk, bread, duct tape, batteries, and water. By the number of people at the grocery store Tuesday, many had the same idea.
Such preparations weren’t totally wasted, because the temperature plunged Thursday morning. I didn’t need to be go anywhere, however, so I stayed in again.
But snow? A near-miss. We couldn’t build snowmen and take photos of snow angels, but I could stay in my pajamas and watch the snow on television. That’s what I did.
Gene Deason is editor emeritus of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Fridays. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.