THE BLOG

Risk of a 'Crying Wolf' Problem

02/03/2015 10:11 am ET | Updated Apr 05, 2015

This thought will be short and sweet.

An epic snowstorm was predicted for New York City last week. "Storm of the century" rhetoric flooded airwaves. The mayor and the governor jumped on the bandwagon and buttoned everything down and tight. Then... well, not much. A millibar or two of atmospheric pressure turned 30 inches of projected snow into more like six.

Our political leaders are, of course, now being castigated for their misjudgment. They were clearly right, but for one simple point. Right because "Better safe than sorry" is always the best and proper course in matters of municipal lives. Wrong because mayors and governors are not weather forecasters.

Clearly, what they should have said was something like this:

The forecasts strongly suggest that we may be in for a record blizzard -- up to three feet in places. Weather forecasting, for all its technology, is still a bit of an art. A tiny shift of nature's movements can send predictions for any specific location at any moment of time wildly off base -- for better or worse. We are conscious of avoiding crying wolf, because we want the shepherds always to take us seriously. There definitely are weather wolves out there.

Beware, be careful and be grateful if it turns out to be less serious than it might have been.

Short of a better qualifier to their reasonable actions, our local leaders deserve very high marks.