There Are Always Critics…

There are always critics who will chastise area school districts, universities, and businesses when they choose to close or continue operations when inclement weather is forecast.  I know, I am one of those critics.  I tend to lean toward caution, so my criticism is typically leveled at those who do not pay heed to the forecast provided by the subject matter experts in this arena – the meteorologists.

Not that I trust meteorologists with blind faith.  Remember, I came from California where meteorologist credibility is arguably at its lowest in the nation.  I trust, but verify, the local meteorologists’ forecasts.  When all the data and subject matter experts from the National Weather Service to the Weather Channel to the local television meteorologist seem to be singing the same tune, I hum along.

I am not a weather expert…I am not the weather whisperer…I do not know better than folks trained in the field; hence, I know the limitations of my knowledge.  Knowing what you don’t know and seeking the appropriate subject matter expertise to inform choices is a hallmark of intelligence.  We do this across many areas of our life, from medical care to haircuts, we seek out subject matter expertise and the accompanying skills to aid our choices.  We know what we do not know and we look to folks who have spent the time immersed in the subject matter to improve our ability to make smart decisions.

Today, our area is under a blizzard warning.  The amount of snow we are to receive in the Fargo area was originally predicted to be between 10 and 20 inches, but is now down to 4 to 7 inches.  The onset of the snow was originally predicted to be earlier in the day on Monday, but is now coming mid-day.  The wind has already arrived and made its presence known, but the temperatures are still languishing above freezing (barely).

Area school districts and universities made decisions to cancel classes and remain closed for the day based on the forecast.  These types of decisions are not made lightly as they have a ripple effect on the entire community.  Now that the snow has not begun to fall as early as originally predicted, there are critics voicing opinions about the wisdom of these cancellation and closure decisions.  This is not to say that snow will not be falling soon or that blizzard conditions are not currently ripe given the wind, this is the basic look out the window assessment of no snow and folks’ easily-proffered opinion that the schools and universities got it wrong.

And that is where I have to offer up my opinion – they did not get it wrong.  As a parent of a child in the West Fargo School District and an employee of NDSU, I can say unequivocally that I want cancellation and closure decisions to be based in large part on subject matter expertise.  I do not want those in charge of such important decisions – decisions that could result in potential injury or death, school and business interruption, and household economic impact – to make them with a disregard for what the subject matter experts advise.   Because here’s the thing, if they make a decision to be open against the warning of such subject matter expertise and students or employees are injured or killed as a result of that decision a major lawsuit is likely in their future.  These decisions are made to exercise due care and that due care necessitates the consideration of subject matter expertise.

So say what you will about the decisions made today regarding cancellations and closures, but I say to those who made these decisions – thank you.  It comforts me to know that the decision-makers possess the intelligence to know what they don’t know and that they will rely on subject matter expertise instead of layperson assessment.  As I said at the outset, there are always critics.  Thankfully, those making these decisions realize that those are not the voices that matter in such decisions.

Day one thousand three hundred and sixty-three of the new forty – obla di obla da

Ms. C

3 Responses

  1. Rocky

    Well said, Dr. C. I wish even 1/10th of the residents of the DC area where I live would understand the application of intelligence as well as you do and have described. We have more whining hindsight forecasters than you can imagine.

  2. tim haering

    IT’s been 10 years since I lived in snow country, but Madison, WI never had a snow day so bad that most of us could not get there. What schools oughta do is cancel class but open the school and let parents decide whether they wanna haul the kids in or not.

    History shows again and again how Nature points up the folly of men …

    Simply having a wonderful Christmas time. Have fun, Ms. C.

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