Winter Going Out Like a Lion: With Avalanches and A Major March Blizzard

Winter Going Out Like a Lion: With Avalanches and A Major March Blizzard

Colorado has experienced eight avalanches so far this winter killing 22 people, and another major blizzard is walloping the state today.  Coloradoan.com reports that, according to Colorado’s  Avalanche Information Center Director Ethan Greene, this year a “perfect storm” of events have created unprecedented avalanche conditions with all the critical factors that result in avalanches coming together at the same time.

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DC Gets Winter Storm Impact Scale Courtesy of Capital Weather Gang

DC Gets Winter Storm Impact Scale Courtesy of Capital Weather Gang

The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang has created a scale to rate the winter storms that always seem to snarl travel and impact schools and businesses in the region.  Rather than gauging a storm by the number of inches of snow, the Weather Gang scale rates the storm’s impact.

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Government shutdown negatively impacting weather forecasts

Government shutdown negatively impacting weather forecasts

Among the most consequential impacts of the government shutdown are the strain and diminution of capacity to the National Weather Service (NWS) operations, upon which all public and private daily weather forecasts are based. 

Why This Matters: One-third of the U.S. economy is impacted by the weather.  Indeed, as The Post points out, that means many sectors such as transportation, energy, national security, agriculture, the stock market, not to mention forecasts of extreme weather — are now operating on less than the highly accurate forecasts they usually can rely upon. And imagine if we have a “billion dollar” storm such as a “snowmaggedon” while the shutdown drags on, with lives and profits at risk, which seems increasingly probable as we are now squarely in winter snow season.  Offices like the one that Saha works in are down to skeleton staff — only one or two rather than dozens.  This weather forecasting degradation is much riskier to the general public than any risk we face from the lack of a feckless border wall segment.  

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