It never rains in California

There was a cold snap in California this week, which also happened to correspond to the week that I was there. Which is typical. The most common sentence I hear in my travels is “you should have been here last week”. For example, the last time I was in Arizona, a place where it is known to be both sunny and dry, it snowed for the first time in about 1,000 years.

Anyhow, the coldness was caused by a winter storm. No matter that it isn’t winter yet. Let’s be clear about this, ironically winter starts when it all starts to get better because the days start getting longer at the winter Solstice on December 21st. But I digress. This extremely serious weather event resulted in a daytime temperature of 52 degrees. I admit that it did decline to a jaw dropping 35 degrees during the night but at least we were safe in our beds by then.

People who live in places where below 55 degrees is cold have a weird sense of what you need to wear when such catastrophic coldness descends. It is time to break out the parkas, heavy sweaters, and mufflers or just stay behind closed doors until it reaches a more civilized temperature. I am amazed that they would actually have such clothing in their closet, if it is only necessary for about two days every 4th year. But then again, that means you can pretty much buy one coat, one sweater and one pair of mittens to last you a life time.

But that is not the topic of the day. This may not be a new thing but it is new to me. The U.S. is apparently now naming winter storms. The storm that was wrecking havoc last week and caused an unprecedented black ice warning on the California 101 was called Cleon. Cleon was of course coming down from Canada, that evil weather source to the north. The next storm that is heading down from the North Pole to place microscopic layers of snow in Dallas and Atlanta is apparently queued up as Deon. Be afraid, very afraid, because CNN reports power could be out for up to a day if the forecasted ice storm materializes. If not, they can get lots of air time talking about the tragic events that did not happen. The winter storm naming convention would indicate the next one will be named Eon, which does not bode well for anyone.

I don’t think winter storm naming will ever be adopted north of the border for several reasons. The most obvious is the severe limitation of the number of letters in the alphabet, although I guess we could always start over if need be. But the real issue is the difficulty in distinguishing between a storm and run of the mill nasty weather. When does normal horizontal snow become a blizzard? When does a snow squall become a winter tornado? What level of accumulation requires the army? The answers to these questions are as elusive as a waterproof boot.

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