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K.M. Joslyn, Nairobi, Kenya., Published March 13 2014

Letter: Weather reporting advice for those eastern whiners

As a legal North Dakota resident living farther south, I get my news online – often from The Forum, whose western perspective I deeply appreciate. Your matter-of-fact weather reporting is a welcome contrast to mainstream media’s Snowmaggedon complex – the compulsion to make a mountain out of a snow hill on a slow news day.

A recent report from a major network featured the usual weather channel whiner with more adjectives at her disposal than common sense. (It’s called winter, Princess. Go buy a pair of real boots.)

Grit and grace

Though North Dakotans take perverse pleasure in complaining about weather, we accommodate ourselves with grit and grace to the challenges of a long winter. By contrast, easterners waste energy better spent revving up the snowplows in naming – or worse, mis-naming – blizzards.

With winter nearly over in the eastern U.S., I hoped I’d heard the last of their overblown snow reporting. Wrong. The storm recently pushing more important news off the front page of the New York Times was named Vulcan. This raises an important question: Does no meteorologist east of Chicago have access to Google? Wasn’t Vulcan the ancient Roman god of fire? And the winter storm before Vulcan was Titan, after the giant-gods of Greek mythology.

While that storm may have indeed been big, a North Dakotan might have spelled it Tighten – which is what any blizzard worth the name does to your jaw, your gait and your privates. Assigning names alphabetically to blizzards is a waste of time.

Kansas model

I suggest instead copying tornado reporters’ methods by assessing each storm a number based on objective criteria.

Meteorologists in Kansas don’t name tornadoes for the same reason a hog farmer doesn’t name all 500 of his pigs; it’s an unnecessary waste of time, and they won’t be around long anyhow. The F-1 to F-5 scale (named for Ted Fujita, the meteorologist who first devised the metric) rates tornadoes based on wind speed and doublewides lost.

The ‘B’ scale

I propose a similar rating scale, but Dakota-style. Let’s rate storms using B-1 to B-5 as indicators (B for blizzard). To facilitate weather discussions at the corner café, each category would have an accompanying commonly-understood acronym as clarifier and memory aid.

Allow me to suggest the following terms and criteria:

• B-1/PIA: A North Dakotan feels the need to roll up his/her pickup windows and turn on the heat.

• B-2/SOB: He/she grabs a jacket on the way out of the house.

• B-3/OMG: The Lutheran pastor cancels the church picnic and takes the tarp off the woodpile.

• B-4/WTF: Grown men steal the pregnant-lady parking spaces at County Market to avoid pushing carts any distance through hip-deep snow.

• B-5/FUBAR: The Fargo Public School District finally calls a snow day – for preschoolers. Moms bundle up their tots and send them out to play in the drifts.

I propose this rating system be instituted immediately. Unlike an alphabetical roster of pointless names, these terms are endlessly recyclable. An alpha-numeric system would prevent those fools back east from picking names they don’t understand.

The most important reason, though, is this: it may be the only way to save North Dakota media from Snowmaggedon infection.