SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Column - Commentary: Humor

The Rain is Falling, The Rain is Falling



October 23, 2018
Tuesday PM

Ketchikan, Alaska -
Social Media is a wonderful thing.

jpg  Dave Kiffer

Although based on what I see on Facebook lately,  there is an awful lot of Anti-Social Media out there.

But I digress.

Social Media is a wonderful thing. We stay in much closer connection with folks because they share cute cat videos and offensive political memes with us.

And they are also very quick to pass along important information - "news you can use," to quote a long ago journalism slogan.

And no, I do not mean "news you can use to smack someone over the head with." The kind you get from either Fox News or MSNBC. I mean news that might actually benefit the recipient. Not that cute cat videos and offensive political memes aren't beneficial. On some level.

Par ejemplo, a week or so ago, every local person on Facebook was sharing a forecast for a "big storm coming soon to a neighborhood near you" (near us!).

That was important information.

One reason that storms seemed worse in the good old days was that when we didn't know the storms were coming we were a lot more likely to die in them.

So it is a good thing to know storms are coming. 

Storm prediction has gotten so precise lately that - as I type this - there is a weather gnome huddled in some airless bunker in Miami staring at a computer simulation of a patch in the Atlantic (or Pacific in our case) and saying "yep, yep, yep, that tropical depression is going to be a tropical storm and then a hurricane and it is going smack the bejezeus out of Boynton Beach in exactly 22 days."

Which leads me to ponder, why are we not doing more to deal with these "tropical depressions?" 

For goodness sake, every other medication advertised on TV these days seems to deal with "depression" so why can't we deal with storms the same way we deal with everything else in our day-today world?

With chemicals!

So the minute we "identify" one of these depressions (proper diagnosis is key to treatment efficacy!!!) we should put one of those "vomit comet" National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administatrion hurricane planes to good use by flying over the depression and "seeding" the depression with all the Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft that we can muster. Of course, we will also be duty bound to warn the tropical depression that use of these drugs can cause "suicidal thoughts and ideation." 

But I digress, again.

The point of this discussion was not about tropical depressions (a clear oxymoron because no one I know has EVER been "depressed" while in the "tropics."). The point is to talk about "oversharing" on Social Media. Especially, when it comes to weather reports.

Sure, there is a value to some warnings on Facebook.

Like, "hey folks there is a big fat bear tearing up your neighborhood right now. So do not go outside."

Or "there is a tree down on your street, better find a different route home."

Or even "yo, dude, bail out your skiff, it's already two feet under."

But I have to note that looking at the latest Chicken LIttle report from NOAA raised a lot of red flags long before the "storm" actually arrived.

I get that it appears that I am mocking the regional weather gnomes (in their airless bunker in Auke Bay) Please understand that I realize they have a hard job to do. Imagine what it must be like to have to come up with 365 different ways to refer to rain each year. Not easy.

And since our weather patterns can be "erratic' at best, it is not easy to predict which depression will turn into a storm and where it will hit.

The problem is that about two years ago, we had a little weather situation smack Ketchikan with around 8 inches of rain a little more than a day (and no, that wasn't even the all-time high!!!!).

NOAA had predicted partly cloudy skies for that day, so I'm guessing there was gnashing of teeth in Auke Bay.

Anyhow, to prevent that from ever happening again, the new default is to overstate the case just a bit. Therefore in the last two years, we have had eight different "storms" turn out to be way less serious than predicted. Interestingly enough, they turned out to be more serious farther north, so it may just be a case of NOAA lumping  Ketchikan in with the rest of the SE during the forecasts so we don't feel left out and secede to join with Northern BC.

Anyway, the latest storm forecast called for 40 mph winds and up to two inches of rain. It said that was a "major event."

Only in freaking Phoenix!

If you have lived in Southern Southeast Alaska for at least six minutes, you know that October can be pretty gruesome, storm wise. In fact, you have lived here for 12 minutes you know that October is always pretty gruesome, storm wise. I have lived through Octobers where it rained every danged day. Usually at least an inch.  And it was windy enough to blow things over. Even trees that had been standing since before Columbus. 

So what NOAA was predicting was basically "just another day in Southern Southeast." But since they described it in such serious, potentially dire terms, Facebook erupted - pizza acne like - in an explosion of "batten the hatches people" warnings.

Those got amplified enough by Social Media posts that it appeared that we were facing another "Stormaggedon" when in fact, we were facing your basic "Thursday in October."

And that's what we got. Winds around 40-50 mph and rain between 1.5 and 2 inches.

Was that a good thing? Certainly, it was not bad enough to create any real havoc.

 Unless, of course, you live on Shoreline Drive where recent engineering "improvements" have created a situation in which flooding occurs anytime there is a rain storm anywhere in the Solar System.

It was also a good thing because all this sunshine we've been getting since June has somewhat depleted the lakes and that means that (A) - the hydros are not running so the utility costs are spiking and (B) - some places are quickly running out of drinking water.

Note, I said some places. As in NOT Ketchikan. We have something like 1.5 billion gallons of water in Ketchikan Lakes. Which means we would have go something like 380 days without rain before drinking water might become an issue. That ain't gonna happen.

Anyway, since that little "storm" we have gotten a bit more rainfall, although as I write this - two thirds of the way through October - we are still sitting at about 5 inches for the month.  In the past, you could say "five inches of rain in October" and most folks would have responded "which day?"

Thus, even with more rain - and more NOAA storms -we remain likely to continue this year's march toward "desertification."  We may not even top 100 inches for the entire year. Quel horreur!

Fortunately, this won't last because "global warming" is a hoax.

Although I am beginning to believe that Mother Nature's recent meteorological "mood swings" are indeed fact.

Please just quit Facebooking about it!





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Dave Kiffer is a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.

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