BLAIR, NEBRASKA (2024 JANUARY 8, MONDAY) – The forecast is for a strong winter storm to hit today and through tomorrow. And, the temperature forecasts for the back half of the week are for brutal, bitter cold. On Facebook, there are some folks talking about it. From comical to downright apocalyptic, Blair residents are bracing for what lies ahead this week.
So, with this being the first big storm of the season, we thought a little research was in order.
In the midst of a Winter Storm Warning in Blair, Nebraska, predicting heavy snowfall and near-blizzard conditions, residents might wonder if they are witnessing an unusual weather phenomenon or just another typical January. The concept of “Shifting Baselines Syndrome,” as coined by Daniel Pauly in 1995, offers insight into this perception. It describes a gradual adjustment to changing conditions, leading individuals to accept the world as they know it now, rather than as it was historically.
January in Blair typically sees a moderate amount of snowfall, with an average of 3.4 to 5.6 snow days, suggesting that while the forecasted storm is on the higher end, it’s not entirely out of character. However, the shifting baselines phenomenon might influence how residents perceive this event. As generational perceptions evolve, what was once considered extreme may now be viewed as normal, or vice versa. Studies have shown that generational experiences significantly alter the perceived frequency of weather events, such as the number of hot days a year.
In Nebraska’s history, January has seen some significant storms. The 1948-1949 winter was particularly brutal, lasting from November until April, trapping families and causing widespread damage and economic loss. In January 1949, President Truman declared a state of emergency. Another notable event was the 1975 Great Storm, which brought more than a foot of snow, record-low barometric pressure, and strong winds up to 50 miles per hour, making it one of the most severe storms in the state’s history. These events underscore that while the current forecast may seem severe, Nebraska has a history of notable winter storms.
This generational shift in perception underscores the importance of global awareness and individual recognition of changes. While the current weather alert in Blair is severe, it’s crucial to differentiate between an extraordinary event and the expected variability of winter weather. As awareness grows, so does the understanding of climate trends and the ability to contextualize individual weather events within a broader historical and climatological framework.
But, we’re curious, what do you think? Is this normal weather for Blair in January?