Way, way too much weather hype (or how, in Coös, to form a mob)

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After a trip to Concord and back through sleet and freezing rain, home in Colebrook looks pretty good atop a pasture and apple trees coated in new snow. (John Harrigan file photo)

By JOHN HARRIGAN, View from Above the Notches

How to form a mob in the northern part of Coös County—easy directions any coyote ordering from the Acme Rocket Company can follow:

John Harrigan

(That’s “CO-oss, just like “coöperate,” except that nobody spells “coöperate” that way any more, at least you hardly ever see it, with the two little dots over the second “ö” and all, which I’ve long been told, by a pretty persnickety German friend, is a dieresis, not an umlaut, but either one, as vaunted pressman Calvin Crawford of the erstwhile Coös Junction Press once famously said, “Sounds like something they should take care of at the hospital.”)

For the geographically challenged, that’s way, way above Franconia Notch. Yes, Virginia, there is life above Winnipesaukee. Got the map? (What’s a map? Did that come before GPS? Before Google as a verb?) Okay, just stand up and look north. No, not the Notch. Look up. No, not Littleton, way up. (Hint: This is not a Sarah Palin joke, but I can see Lower Canada from my front porch.)

The best part of the Sarah Palin story is the version that Sarah Palin herself never said she could see Russia, it was Tina Fey doing her impression of Sarah Palin, which was so good that the real Sarah allegedly called Tina and begged her to take the routine off “Saturday Night Live.” Art imitates life, I guess, but it’s too good a story not to be true.


Wait—where were we? Forming a mob. But let’s not forget: It’s all on account of the weather.

There’s the drilling we endured this very fall on wind chill. Remember? Once, long ago, weather reporters told us the actual temperature—you know, 45 in Concord, 40 in Laconia, zero in Dalton (a small town in The Land That Time Forgot, and Damned Glad of It).

No more. We’ve all heard the Wind Chill Mantra—“feels like” 20 in Concord, “feels like” zero in Laconia, and God knows what it “feels like” in Dalton, which nobody can even find on a map, for Pete’s sake. And Dalton’s damned glad. Just look at where the rest of the state has gone. If I lived in Dalton (I wonder if they would let me in), I’d want to saw the rest of New Hampshire off and let it float out to sea.

And then there was this: A brand-new direct correlation, previously unknown to science, between weather reporting and population.

So now, we’re told that this storm could affect 30 million people, the next one, 40. All right, already, point please, point please—point at which it’s “newsworthy.” Eleven million? Twelve? The population of New York City? (Who gets to guess at that? Where do they draw the lines? Who gets to do the drawing?)

We have become a nation of weather-obsessed neurotic ninnies. Television weather coverage begets neurotic viewers. Neurotic viewers beget higher ratings, which beget higher prices for commercials, which beget more aggressive TV weather reporting (“Coming up: Your Winter Weather Fiasco Storm Watch Team, all in black, armed with nunchucks, rapelling down from black helicopters, hut-hut-hut”).

And there you have it, the thing they taught you in school was impossible—the perpetual motion machine.


You have to remember Tuesday’s weather map. It was right there on NBC News, a map of the entire continent, in the grip of (Wagnerian music here) a winter storm. As in “snow.”

All right, all right, there are those of you out there who will say “But it’s winter, and it’s supposed to snow.” Right. You are the same moss-backed Luddites who disdain all-season radials, and run winters. Fess up. With studs. Fess up again.

Tuesday’s map and weather report said it was going to snow, in gobs, which put us all in danger of getting gob-smacked, a fancy way of saying we’d be fetched a good one right up side the head. It might even snow half a foot, the doomsayers said. In some places, even eight inches.

Television has us trained, all right. We know what to do when we see and hear this kind of winter storm stuff. Form a mob. Then, by pre-arranged signal, rush the front doors of the nearest Walmart, and strip the shelves bare of candles, batteries, and bottled water.

But wait. The nearest Walmart is in Littleton, 57 miles away. And how to form a mob?

Midnight scheming here—and then, an inspiration: Go trolling!

(a)Dig trailer out of snow; (b) attach to truck; (c) put TV and battery in trailer; (d) begin trolling; (e) reel ‘em in all the way to the Littleton Walmart, (f) form a mob, and (g) rush the doors.

Too bad, too late for prime time, but it might make the 11 o’clock news.

John Harrigan of Colebrook was recently inducted into the New England Newspaper Hall of Fame. His career spans 52 years as reporter, photographer, columnist, editor and newspaper owner. He writes for InDepthNH.org whenever the spirit moves him and his weekly column “North Country Notebook” runs in the Salmon Press papers covering the northern two-thirds of the state (newhampshirelakesandmountains.com), as well as the Colebrook News and Sentinel.

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