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Meet Director's Path to Tranquility

It's Snow Ice to See You

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Now that the workers are assigned, lap counters are in, and awards came through, I have another worry to take me to meet day. The forecast for "measurable snow" on Friday into Saturday is giving more of these hairs a gray tint. Canceling a meet is the biggest disaster one could face. We went through this already during our second meet, when a storm hit at the worst possible time for making a decision. So we should have some experience with it.

The first year meet was very successful. Over a dozen emails were received complementing us on the meet - how much fun and organized it was, - and surprise that it was our first. The second meet had a 20% jump in the number entries over the first meet. But Mother Nature had a second plan.

We were watching the weather report closely all day Saturday, after different watches and warnings were issued for winter weather. With eyes to the skies, nothing was happening as we arrived at the pool for our Saturday night setup. After the usual 2-hour prep, we exited the pool to find a few small white semi-frozen ice balls and pellets falling. Upon arriving home, the dreaded nightmare began - 20 calls on my phone answering machine asking about a meet cancellation. My email inbox had about twice that number.

I answered every one and told swimmers to stay tuned to our web site (yep, I handle webmaster duties too) where announcements would be posted. First, I decided (notice the subject went from 'we' to 'I') to sit tight and not cancel anything until the conditions and facts were determined. The ice balls began to increase and small accumulations began to appear on the grassy areas. Surely the road crews had time to clear roads by tomorrow, I thought. The forecast was only for 2-4 inches of sleet changing to snow and ending before midnight. In my upstate New York hometown, that would barely keep anyone awake at night.

The ice balls turned to snow and began to show up on the roads by 9:00 PM. Good, this is following the forecast. I had to make a decision. Why did this storm need to hit at just the time when making a decision was difficult? Because I was meet director.

A trip to the NOAA web site to read up on the detailed meteorology nerd-speak was needed. It translated into the same - snow and ice falling, ending near midnight, and clearing tomorrow. I posted that forecast to our web site - our meet was still on! (based on the overnight forecast of course. Don't blame me if it doesn't pan out.)

An insignificant amount of snow could easily be handled during the overnight hours, I thought. Although not heavy, the snow continued. I read every forecast I could find online until it was time to enter dream world. I called a few team members for their advice - weather was the same where they were. Our county pools tend not to close unless the parking lots are inaccessible and the guards can't make it to work. Would we get our money back on the pool rental if we cancelled? Who will eat all the food? Should we offer a refund to all the swimmers? Or a partial refund? Have we gone too far to turn back? Will it be safe to travel?

Then, a new warning popped out - the Virginia State Police had issued a travel advisory requesting that only essential travel be out on the roads. Still, only about 1 inch on the ground. I thought Virginia was in its usual panic about a possible small amount of snow and went to bed. During my sleep, while dreaming of angry mobs with torches and pitchforks looking for a meet director who cancelled a meet, I heard ice pellets from time to time pelting the window. So, it did NOT stop in the evening.

At 7:00 the next morning, all was quiet. There were about 2 inches on the ground, and roads appeared easily passable. Nothing had come out during the night to treat my residential street. I walked to the main street, and found it had not been treated, either. What were road crews doing all night? Maybe they did not considered themselves essential travel and stayed home? Fortunately, some light traffic on the main street had kept the accumulation down, but a sleet-snow mixture covered the untreated pavement.

I loaded up the car and headed to the pool. On the way, I spotted a car in the gutter. A taxi was fishtailing and traveling up the hill on US Route 1 sideways. I made it with no trouble. It was slick, but driving was not a problem - for me. This main road was not touched by a plow blade, but the side road where the pool is located was cleared, treated, and trouble-free. The main road is cared for by state V-DOT, who contracts out care for the side streets.

At the pool, there were three swimmers from Penn State waiting at the door with a message. I was going to be killed if the meet was cancelled after they traveled 4 hours to get here. Their pitchforks were put away.

Swimmers arrived late. One official could not make it. I heard bad stories about the roads in the outlying areas people were coming from. One swimmer ended in his driveway ditch and never made it to the meet. Vehicles off the road dotted the main parkway from Washington. Still, 110 out of 150 swimmers made it to the meet that day. Before the meet was over, the sun came out and the roads were only wet.

We sent refunds to swimmers who requested them - who could not make the meet. I entered and paid for the second day of a 2-day winter meet in Richmond many years ago. Day 2 was cancelled due to an overnight storm. The team refused to give any refund or partial refund - citing 'expenses.' Seems to me that there would be some kind of savings that could be returned if a meet was not held. I vowed not to repeat their public relations faux pas, and never entered their meet again.

This year's storm is due to hit Friday into Saturday. I am hoping it stays on schedule, as there should be enough time to recover and hold the meet on Sunday. If a storm hits on Saturday, maybe we will offer refunds for those swimmers who decide to stay home. More tropical food for the rest of us.
ANOTHER SRN CALIFORNIA LOW MOVES EAST WEDNESDAY NIGHT THROUGH
THURSDAY. THE BLOCKING LOW OVER ONTARIO FORCES A SOUTHERLY
TRACK...TO THE GULF OF MEXICO THURSDAY NIGHT. THE LOW THEN TRACKS
E/NE. THE POSITION OF THE UPPER LOW FRIDAY DETERMINES THE EXACT
TRACK BY THE MID ATLANTIC OVER THE WEEKEND. 00Z GFS OFFERS A MORE
NORTHERLY TRACK THAN THE 00Z EURO /WHICH WAS GENERALLY DISREGARDED
BY HPC MID RANGE/. NOW HAVE LIKELY CONFIDENCE THAT PHASING OF THE
NRN/SRN STREAMS AND RESULTANT LOW INTENSIFICATION OFF THE MID
ATLANTIC COAST TO BRING SNOW IN THE LATER FRIDAY THROUGH SATURDAY
NIGHT TIMEFRAME. DUE TO UNCERTAINTY...NO FURTHER DETAILS AT THIS
TIME...STAY TUNED.

HIGH PRESSURE CLEARS THE REGION OUT FOR SUNDAY/MONDAY.
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Updated January 26th, 2010 at 06:16 PM by Rnovitske (grammar)

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  1. The Fortress's Avatar
    Thanks for the weather update. Argh -- I have high school meets on Friday and Sat. night. Hope it's clear for your meet.