DataLab‘s Harry Enten has reported that the ridiculous New York blizzard hysteria of the last two or three days was due to an over-reliance on the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasting. Late Sunday evening less excitable data came out of the SREF, or Short-Range Ensemble Forecast. “Five of the 21 models in the SREF [predicted] less than 10 inches of snow falling,” Enten summarizes. “Nine of the 21 predicted a foot or less. Only eight could have been said to support 18 or more inches of snow in New York City. By Monday afternoon, 11 of the 21 members were on the 10-inches-or-less train. Eight of the 21 still supported big-time snow, but they were a minority.”
A similar type of hysteria happened when I was living in New York in February 2010. The snowfall turned out to be nothing, but that didn’t stop employers from sending employees home early. Here’s what I wrote at the time in a piece called “Pathetic“:
“Several midtown restaurants, coffee shops and delis closed late this afternoon to allow their employees to get home safely due to inclement weather. I for one am consumed with disgust. Remember that line in the Rolling Stones‘ ‘Shattered’ that went ‘to live in this town you must be tough tough tough tough tough tough tough’? No longer. People who went home early today are babies. They probably lack the character to feel ashamed of themselves so let me invoke it on their behalf.
“What kind of a flabby-bellied managerial mentality decides that wind gusts, falling snow, smallish snow drifts and annoying slush puddles are exceptional threats to pedestrians? I’m sorry but this is a measure of the backbone and resilience of the mainstream work force, or lack of I should say. I’m sure it was mainly middle-aged and older women employees who expressed concern to their bosses.
“I went out last night with a woman who suggested yesterday afternoon that walking two avenue blocks to the subway at Eighth Avenue and 23rd Street might be a little too challenging and that perhaps we should call a cab or a private limo. It was all I could do to hide my loathing when she said that.”