sNOW HOPE

Photo by JOE BARATY

“‘Tis the season!” No, I am not referring to Christmas, despite what you may see at your neighborhood Walmart. It’s the first of October, and any teacher, like myself, will tell you that October is the official start of the “snow watch season.”

I know what you’re thinking; being a tad bit optimistic. I rather think of it as desperate hope with a faint connection to realism. Yes, I realize that it was 96 degrees in the shade yesterday, but that still leaves us with 27 days this month so there is still hope. And … it has happened before.

I did a bit of research and uncovered proof of my “faint connection to realism.” Yes, Virginia has seen measurable snow before in the month of October. On Oct. 28 and 29, 2011 there was a trace of snow in the Roanoke region. OK, I hear you naysayers already calling foul, saying that a trace is technically not measurable snow. But remember, we are teachers … we can measure a trace.

You need to understand that when it comes to inclement weather, teachers have a much broader, more liberal definition than the average weather watcher. We have a greater stake in the matter. Walk up to a teacher and say something like, “It’s going to be very foggy in the morning.” The very first thing out of their mouths will be “Do you think we’ll have school?” So, if there is hope, even the slightest bit of hope, we will anticipate inclement weather.

There was great excitement in the air at school this past week when the Farmer’s Almanac released its yearly winter weather forecast. Teachers were all abuzz, eager to tabulate how many days off we would get this winter.

The overall prospectus given by the almanac was not too optimistic; warmer than average temperatures and above-average precipitation. However, there were a few gems thrown in to create some a stir. For the week of Oct. 8, they used the words “cold” and “flurries” in the same sentence.

November was even a greater tease. Between Nov. 14 and Nov. 30, the words “flurries,” “snow showers,” “snow,” were used and twice they used the word “cold.” Sounds like an extended Thanksgiving break if you ask me.

Now the pessimist in the crowd will point out that it’s just the Farmer’s Almanac and not a licensed meteorologist. So, I also investigated the accuracy of the almanac’s long-range weather forecasts. I was hoping for something relatively positive, maybe close to 50%. I was shocked and quite pleased when I read from a reputable source that the almanac’s forecast accuracy is a robust 80%. OK, my reputable source was the Farmer’s Almanac, but hey, it’s still a source.

The almanac went on to predict that the coldest weather will come to us in January, February and early March. They really stepped out on a limb with that prediction, huh?

Likewise, they also pointed to that same time period as being the snowiest, with one exception. As previously stated, they point to the middle to end of November as having the potential for a good bit of measurable snow. I heard that Dick’s Sporting Goods is having a clearance sale on winter boots … just thought I would throw that in.

Writing this article got me so excited I had to take a quick peak at the daily forecast for October. Did you know that on Oct. 21 the almanac is calling for heavy precipitation and a low that evening of 46 degrees? That happens to be just 14 degrees from receiving measurable snow. That means there is hope, right?

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