OMG, cold & snow!

The region got whapped by a tough nor'easter Thursday into Friday morning, accompanied by unusually frigid temperatures. Certainly, this was a newsworthy event. Snowstorms disrupt our normal routines. Schools and sometimes businesses close, schedules get scrambled, travel impeded.

But some perspective, please, it's called winter.

There is an unpleasant tendency in our modern age to hype every sizable snowstorm as if it were an historic event. There are dire warnings about travel, interviews with doctors to warn about the dangers of snow shoveling and the hazards of not dressing properly when it is very cold. Apparently, the assumption is that all of us forgot the commonsense advice when it was drilled home during the last storm.

TV news reporting seems particularly susceptible to this storm hysteria. Entire local newscasts are turned over to the coverage of the snowstorm. This usually means parka-clad reporters standing by roadsides and declaring that, yes, it is indeed snowing, and interviewing people at gas stations and convenience stores who confirm that, yes, it is slippery driving and they are cold.

Buck up, people, this is New England. It snows here, every winter.

This is not to say that when temperatures are as cold as predicted this morning, below zero according to forecasts, that the news media should not remind people to make rational decisions as to how they dress and what they do. And some storms - they are called disasters - merit major news coverage.

Modern forecasting is a wonderful tool. It helps us all prepare for what is to come. The days of being caught by surprise are just about gone. Yet knowing several days ahead when a storm is threatening has its downside, getting folks all worked about something quite normal - snow and cold in winter in New England.

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