Snow. n. See "mass hysteria."
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Snow. n. See “mass hysteria.”

A CP24 anchor introduced a weather report this morning by saying “They’re calling it ‘snow-mageddon,'” before gleefully launching into the standard predictions of panic and mayhem that accompany virtually every cloud blowing within 100 km of Toronto. At the time, we thought, “Who’s ‘they’? Don’t you mean ‘you'”?
But, surprisingly enough, the term didn’t originate in a production meeting in the bowels of 299 Queen Street West: it came directly from The Man himself. Yesterday, Environment Canada issued a “Special Weather Statement” for most of southern Ontario. It began:

Could this be snow-mageddon?
Environment Canada is generally not prone to exaggeration unless there is deemed to be a real threat. We evaluate weather information and prediction models in a measured, scientific manner and couple that with overall impacts for significant events.
Mother Nature from time to time will line up a near perfect set of conditions that generate a series of significant events. That time appears to be the coming week or so for many portions of southern Ontario in the form of snow storms. There appears to the right balance of sufficiently cold air in place, with arctic highs to the north and a storm track along the lower Great Lakes. The term ‘snow-mageddon’ is not meant to alarm anyone or make light of the situation, but to highlight the cumulative effects and impacts that a series of snow storms can have on a wide region.
[Emphasis ours.]

Come-ageddon? “Snow-mageddon” is “not meant to alarm anyone,” but it is in fact the result of a “measured, scientific” weather prediction process? Call us skeptical, but we imagine the term emerged from a completely unscientific office bull session, born of much back-slapping and congratulatory snickering.
We all expect this kind of hyperbole from the TV news, but we really do expect better from Environment Canada. Does someone there seriously think that calling a storm “snow-mageddon” is not intended to alarm or make fun? Here’s a hint: if you write something and have to spend the next two paragraphs on disclaimers, you probably shouldn’t write it in the first place.
Following the headline and two paragraphs expounding on the use of “snow-mageddon”, the statement goes on to warn of a world-ending accumulation of “15 to 20 centimetres” during a “particularly nasty snow event,” with “strong indications” of another storm on Sunday. Both storms will be converging right here, on the battleground of the ultimate fight between the forces of good and evil. Er, we mean between an Arctic high and a Colorado low.
It looks like Environment Canada has come to its collective senses; the term (and explanation of its use) is missing from the current version of the statement. In other news, two storms are expected to bring some wind and snow—perhaps even a lot of snow—to Toronto and much of southern Ontario tomorrow and Sunday. You may have trouble driving, the TTC may be a little slow, and your neighbour probably won’t plough his walk. Snow-mageddon? Sounds more like plain old winter to us.
Photo by Georgie_grrl from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.