I am ever amazed by my local papers efforts to fill space with local news. Today I found this little gem on page A-4 column 1 of the Anchorage Daily News:
Snowfall break record by 3.3 inches
A Spring storm has brought record snowfall to parts of Juneau. The National Weather Service said a snowfall record for the day was broken at the airport, where forecaster Richard Lam said 3.5 inches of snow had been reported as of 10 a.m. Friday. Lam said the prior record for the day at the airport was 0.2 inches, in 1964.
The article goes on to say that parts of town got rain instead of snow and it was expected to stay wet in Juneau through the weekend.
Why is any of this newsworthy? Parts of the city got a little wet snow and it set a record. Give me a break. Juneau is a very wet place. Sure it rains more than it snows and snow this late in April is a bit unusual, but the surprise is not that a record was set, but that the old record was so low.
Weather records seem to be broken all the time. It didn’t used to be that way. A record snowfall had to be the biggest ever or at least the biggest in the month involved, but not anymore. Today we have daily records, which give us lots of opportunity to set new records.
30 snowfall records for April alone. Juneau began as a mining town in about 1880. Record keeping began some time after that so the probability that Juneau will have a daily snow record in April is 25% (30/120). And we have records for high and low temperature, rain and wind.
We keep so many records, that it is virtually impossible not to break old records with regularity. Juneau’s old record was a trace of snow and now the record is 3.5 inches or about a quarter inch of rainfall equivalent. By Juneau standards both are low numbers.
Juneau had managed to not have any snow for over 100 years on April 26th, and then it snowed on that day in 2013. Where is global warming when it’s needed?
And while I’m grousing about weather silliness….what’s going on at the weather channel. Who gave them permission to start naming winter storms….and who picked the names? When I was a kid only hurricanes got names, now the Weather Service names all tropical systems. Storm names are here, there, everywhere.
So many records broken, so many named storms; it’s easy to conclude that the world’s weather must to be getting worse. Perhaps the only thing that has changed is the way we talk about the weather. Today we are better at making “much ado about nothing”.