I Need You to Stop Fantasizing About Snow

Originally published Jan. 12, 2016

Snow: it’s something many of us hope for this time of year, especially in the South where it’s rare. So, it’s understandable that many southerners desire snow so much that it becomes an obsession. But, I need you to stop it! Other meteorologists hope you stop it, too!

Here’s why: in this age of social media, every year we’re seeing snow craved individuals sharing ridiculous snowfall forecast maps that are either from a long time ago or just plain wrong. Then, I have friends and even family who tag me in a post, or text or message me about my thoughts on whatever forecast map they’ve come across.

Here’s the viewpoint from a meteorologist—we’ll tell you when to expect something. If you don’t hear anything from us about snow, presume the chance doesn’t exist. There may be a computer model or two that forecasts snow 7, 10 or 14 days in advance, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, and we’re most likely not going to tell you about it. Computer models more than a week out are very suspect anyway, and since I forecast weather for one of the most southern of southern cities, I’m certainly not going to go out on a limb 10 days out and forecast snow.

Snow caked on bushes and trees on February 13, 2010 in Augusta, Georgia

Snow lovers, of course, are eager to jump on any hint of a possible flake and may wonder why we don’t tell the public if there’s a minute chance of frozen precipitation days away. Contrary to the joke out there, we don’t collaborate with the grocery stores to drive up sales, so we aren’t going to mention any possibility of frozen precipitation until computer models (note the plural) are in good agreement in about a 7-day window or less. We also don’t like the idea of getting the kids all excited when snow probably won’t end up occurring.

On the other hand, if we think that snow or ice is a realistic possibility, we will let you know! In that case, it might be a good idea to head to the grocery store to be prepared for winter weather.

So, before sharing a viral post about snow in the South, double-check for the following criteria:

  • Who posted it? Are they typically a reliable source of weather information?
  • Check to see when the original post was made. It could be from a year or two ago.
  • Is the content in question forecasting specific snowfall amounts or impacts more than 7 days in advance? If so, avoid sharing it.

Keep in mind, snow in the Augusta area is rare. Our annual average amount is only about 1 inch. If you’re a snow lover who just can’t wait for it any longer, you might consider moving somewhere farther north. Until then, I appreciate your help in avoiding the spread of false or hyped up forecasts.

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