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It would be surprising if weather forecasters were celebrated

By Alan Pergament

I spent the "salubrious" day before Wednesday's storm reminiscing with former Channel 7 weather personality Tom Jolls about the Blizzard of '77 and the surprise October storm of 2006.

You can read my column about Jolls' post-retirement life in this Sunday's Buffalo News.

But I can tell you now that I left Jolls' Orchard Park home thinking about how an old slogan for a hotel chain perfectly fits Buffalo weather: "The best surprise is no surprise."

When I cheered the local TV weathercasters for preparing the area for Wednesday's record March 12 snowfall of 13.8 inches, I wasn't surprised that some readers of my blog objected and claimed the storm certainly wasn't as big a deal as forecast. The response  was more predictable than the idea it snows in Buffalo in the winter.

It isn't a terribly original theory, but I suspect that the views of the storm depended on where you live and whether you lived here back in 1977.

Channel 4 meteorologist Don Paul agreed with that assignment when I sent him a Facebook message late Wednesday night.

"It does depend on where you live," responded Paul. "Areas to the south got less because they were in the warmer air longer. We had lower snow totals for them in the area. The National Weather Service office says the storm verified as a blizzard by NWS definition. As of 6 p.m., a new record for the date was set.... although accumulations aren't part of the criteria."

To many complainers, the only criteria that mattered was the Blizzard of '77. I can't tell you how many times I read on the social networks that Wednesday's storm "was no '77."

Agreed. It wasn't as bad in many areas as predicted.

But comparing the two blizzards is like comparing apples and oranges in multiple ways.

Let's hope we never see another Blizzard of '77, the mother of all storms. It came out of nowhere in January with terrible winds and about 12 inches of snow, which is less than we got Wednesday. It was a total weather surprise, which is why there was such chaos on the roads that it took some people days to get home. Jolls told me that he and sports director Rick Azar had to be driven home the night of the blizzard by Jolls' son, who had a four-wheel drive.

Similarly, the October storm came out of nowhere. Jolls and his wife were stuck in their car for 16 hours before they got home from Rochester, where they were watching their son-in-law, Dave Burkholder, coach the Niagara University hockey team against RIT.

The TV weathercasters assured that wasn't going to happen to anyone paying attention by predicting Wednesday's storm in early March when we typically don't expect a big storm. That meant schools and government offices were closed, roads were pretty empty and there was no chaos.

What would Wednesday have been like on the roads if the storm hadn't been forecast and most of WNY hadn't stayed home?

Thankfully, we'll never know. But I would guess or predict things wouldn't have gone swimmingly.

I'm usually the first to blame TV weathercasters for scaring us to death. But they've been right much more than usual this winter and that includes on Wednesday for the most part.

I suppose the biggest weather surprise would be if more WNYers acknowledged that after Wednesday's experience rather than post predictable slams on the social networks. 










Television | TV news
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About Talkin' TV

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament

Alan Pergament has continued to blog about television topics since retiring in 2010 as The News' television writer after 28 years on the beat. From local on-air personalities to ratings to the latest on network and cable programming, he keeps you informed.

@StillTalkinTV |