Gary Rotstein's The Morning File: Welcome to spring, or what may be a poor facsimile


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Now that spring has sprung -- the devil, you say! -- this would be a good time for a session of Ask a Non-Meteorologist About the Weather:

Q: I looked out my window at work Friday morning, the day after the calendar said spring had started, and a Siberian-like snowfall was taking place. How ridiculous is that?

A: In 1893, snow was still falling in Pittsburgh on May 31. You should probably brace for something similar this year.

Q: According to The Weather Channel's website over the weekend, the temperature the next few days will never exceed 40 degrees and at no point on Wednesday will it ever get above freezing. This obviously must be an error -- is there a number I can call to have them correct it?

A: There was a killing frost in the spring of 1894 on May 29. It's about time we took a run at that record after 120 years.

Q: OK, this column is already getting depressing. Isn't there anything else you can write about?

A: All kinds of media consumer surveys have shown that people love to get information about the weather more than almost anything, except maybe dogs and Steelers. We're just trying to provide the customers what they want.

Q: Evidently the Farmers' Almanac and Old Farmer's Almanac were much more accurate in predicting this harsh winter than was the government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Is this a legitimate reason for me to withhold paying my federal taxes this year in protest, since I hate those %*&# in Washington so much anyway, and I'd much rather focus on my NCAA brackets than on doing my taxes?

A: You should consult your tax accountant about that. We are qualified in this column to give unreliable, non-expert information only about the impact this year of the polar vortex, not about taxes.

Q: Speaking of which, I would prefer that you and everyone else cease using that term -- polar vortex -- as I'm sick of hearing of it.

A: No argument here.

Q: It would be nice after the past few months to at least look forward to a pleasant summer, but both of these now ever-so-reliable weather almanacs predict an unusually hot, oppressive summer. An editor from the Old Farmer's Almanac thinks no one will mind since it was so cold this winter. What are the chances that she's wrong and lots of Pittsburghers will, in fact, complain when it's 90 degrees and humid in July?

A: The likelihood of such moaning is about as likely as a snowfall this week -- which is, to say, that it is very probable.

Q: Is the Pirates' home opener really a week away? Do you think they should just postpone or cancel the entire season due to weather now, to spare people the agony of sitting outside wrapped up like Eskimos for baseball games?

A: The forecast actually calls for a warming trend next week, and it would be a shame to get rid of a season in which the Pirates are expected to have their second winning record in 22 years. Canceling a baseball season is really the job of the players and owners in a labor dispute, not Mother Nature.

Q: I lost one of my gloves this winter -- do you know where it is?

A: I saw one on the side of a path in Schenley Park recently -- you should go check.

Q: I guess I run counter to the norm, but I love really big snowstorms and my biggest disappointment this winter was we never had one of more than 5 inches. Will I still have a chance to use my snowshoes and build igloos like I want?

A: On April 3, 1901, we got a foot of snow, so don't give up hope yet.

Q: Hasn't this winter been useful for giving strangers a bond for conversation on elevators to overcome the awkward silence of waiting for their floors? If winter truly does end, what will they ever find to talk about instead?

A: Maybe the mystery of that Super Bowl Waterford Crystal football trophy that went missing from the mayor's office.

Q: If it's true that it takes cold, cloudy days to appreciate the warm, sunny ones, how do you think Pittsburghers will feel next week if it really does reach 60 degrees?

A: As happy as a TV weatherman at the prospect of an approaching blizzard.

Gary Rotstein: grotstein@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1255.


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