We've been under a winter storm watch for two days and a blizzard warning for one. Rain was supposed to change over to snow at midnight last night and accumulate 3 to 7 inches by daybreak but, as I write this at 5 a.m. on Friday morning, it's 37 degrees with light rain falling.
All the stores were busy yesterday with people stocking up on supplies and essentials in advance of this huge storm that was predicted to bring one to two feet of snow to McCook. Those projections have now been downgraded because the changeover to snow didn't occur at midnight like it was supposed to and may not happen til noon today. 12 hours of rain rather than snow will certainly have a big impact on the amount that ends up on the ground and, because of that, the blizzard warning has been changed to a winter storm warning.
They're now forecasting 6-10 inches of snow, although they say amounts will vary greatly across the area, without giving any specifics of how and where the amounts will vary. So even though they're bullish on a second wave coming through later today that will supposedly result in 24 hours of continuous snow and wind, I'm not so sure.
Today is Richard Tubbs' last day to serve as Vice President of McCook Community College before his retirement becomes official and many of the students thought it would be really cool if his last official act was to cancel classes today because of the snow. That's obviously not going to happen now.
I suppose I've been one of the harsher critics of the National Weather Service in Goodland because of their futile attempts to get anything right, other than wind speed, when they're making forecasts. They're also good at making fair weather forecasts, as is everyone else, because high pressure always means fair weather, so there's not much risk there.
But in this case, everybody else agreed with the NWS on the track and the amount of snow we would receive. Joe Bastardi of Weatherbell called it first on Tuesday, predicting a foot or two of snow for Nebraska and then the Weather Channel quickly fell in line, as did the NWS. Bastardi has been hammered on his blog this winter for numerous snow predictions, primarily in the northeast part of the country that didn't come true, much like I've criticized the NWS. I just don't understand how they can have all this technology available to them and yet aren't any better at making accurate forecasts than they were 50 years ago.
Their forecasts affect the lives of practically everybody. We go to the store when we weren't going to go to the store, we cancel trips we had planned to take and we cancel or change plans we had made all because of an inclement forecast the NWS has made. And then it doesn't happen or, if it does, it doesn't happen like it was predicted to happen. When warnings were first invented for weather forecasting, it meant that those conditions were either currently occurring or were imminent. Issuing a blizzard warning a day early doesn't meet either one of those criteria and yet they continue to do it. They should issue Watches as soon as possible so people can be aware of what MIGHT occur in the future, but they ought to hold off on warnings until they meet one of the two original criteria.
So, are we going to get a lot of snow, a little snow, or no snow at all over the next couple of days? I don't know and I don't think the forecasters do either.
A major change has occurred in the McCook nightlife that will affect not only two or more businesses but a large number of patrons as well. After owning Loose & Smith's downtown and Sports nightclub out on West J Street for almost 30 years and then serving as manager of Sports after it was purchased by Jerry Larson a couple of years back, Ben Coburn has left that position to become the bar manager at TJ's Fun Center located on Highway 83 north. His first day to work there was Tuesday and customers were two deep at the bar. The most amazing thing about that was they were all his former customers at Sports. Every single one of them.
This is obviously not good news for Jerry Larson or Sports nightclub. Although Jerry intends on keeping it open, you have to have customers. As in any bar, the happy hour customers are significantly different from the late night customers. The happy hour customers stay for a couple of hours and go home before the sun goes down while the late nighters are a different breed altogether. So maybe Sports can be saved by the late crowd. For Jerry's sake, I hope so.
In any case, good luck to Ben Coburn. He's a genuinely nice guy, he cares about his customers and considers them his friends like they do him and that's why they all followed him to his new job.
Nice guys seem to be in short supply anymore.