'Extreme' Weather by Sean Sublette

I was tweeting with a veteran broadcast meteorologist in Richmond last{}week. He recently introduced a segment on his weathercasts called,{}"After the 7-Day," which is an outlook similar to the "13-Day Outlook"{}we started this fall. He works at Channel 12, so I asked him why he{}didn't call it the "12-Day Outlook."

His answer: "12-Day Outlook sounds too extreme, and I hate extreme."{}Which made me realize we share a pet peeve: The term extreme.

From Merriam-Webster:{}a) existing in a very high degree; b) going to great or exaggerated{}lengths; c) exceeding the ordinary, usual, or expected.

So while that gives us some guidance on the term, I was surprised at{}how subjective the term could be. I suppose it depends on what the{}individual considers ordinary, usual, or expected.

But the term extreme weather seems to be losing its meaning. One{}network has gone so far as to plaster the phrase "Extreme Weather{}Center" all over its weather graphics.

Easy there, cowboy.

In Virginia, we get snowstorms in winter. While they are not{}commonplace compared to the everyday weather of the season, they are{}to be expected, at least occasionally, during the course of a winter.{}Sure, accumulating snow is an unusual occurrence in Lynchburg and{}Danville. That explains the busy grocery stores whenever snow is in{}the forecast. But snow does show up in the forecast every year.

So, as a little thought experiment, in Lynchburg, is a four-inch{}snowfall extreme?{}How about eight? Twelve?{}

What about those same amounts in Blacksburg?{}

How about at the ski resorts?

{}Virginia Beach?

This makes extreme weather, well, all very relative (slaps head).

It sometimes seems every time the weather is bad, it is labeled{}extreme. I long for the days when the term extreme really meant something. Regionally, the December 18-19, 2009 Snowstorm was extreme. The Blizzard of January 6-7, 1996 was extreme. Nationally, the tornado super outbreaks of April 25-28, 2011 and April 3, 1974{}were extreme. The Superstorm of March 12-13, 1993 was extreme.{}The 2005 Atlantic Hurricane Season was extreme. We ran out of letters{}to name the things, for crying out loud.

But 7 degrees one morning in January or 97 degrees one afternoon in{}July? Unusual, yes. Extreme? No. Not even records.{}Rained three inches in three days? Nope.{}Snowed more than three inches twice in one month? Nope. (Okay, well{}maybe if the month was October)

Then again, maybe I'm just getting extremely grumpy. Don't even get{}me started on the term, "experts."