It’s hard to predict the weather. Don’t believe it, just look outside this morning at the lack of snow that accumulated in some parts of Sampson County overnight while other parts were inundated with the white stuff. While it was predicted that we could get from 1-3 inches between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, a strange hook in the system sent snow on either side of Sampson with no direct hit in site.
Our neighbors to the east in Duplin County began seeing the fluffy white stuff descend late Wednesday afternoon, while social media posts from many Sampson residents began bemoaning the lack of frosty weather, short of frigid temperatures, before darkness fell.
That all changed in areas like Harrells, where over 5 inches was reported early Thursday morning, but not so much in Clinton where just over a dusting — an inch at best — fell, starting just after 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Predicting the storm was difficult at best.
Yet with forecasters calling for a coastal snowstorm that would impact us, preparations had to be made. Schools closed early, streets were layered with brine, sidewalks and business storefronts were salted and even our newspaper was printed and distributed early, all with an eye focused on caution and an attempt to plan ahead.
No one wants to get caught unprepared in any storm, particularly snow that, around here, can stymie activity in just a few minutes.
Today, with little more than a light dusting on the ground in Clinton, it would be easy to second-guess the preparations that were made and the decisions that put closures in motion ahead of the predicted storm. But until you’ve been put in a position to make those kind of decisions, being the fair weather quarterback would be unfair.
It’s easy, for example, to criticize decisions school officials made early to delay school and to release early, all in an attempt to get children and employees home long before the first flakes fell.
That the storm came later than anticipated is not the fault of those working so hard to make the right judgment calls, and they should not be chastised for doing the best they could to make decisions that were in the best interest of those they are charged with keeping safe.
We believe educators and government officials made the right decision to err on the side of caution Wednesday, releasing students early, letting employees go home a couple hours before normal closing time and making quick decisions about plans for today.
It is better, in our estimation, to plan early than to knee-jerk react too late to do things orderly and in the safest manner.
Our hats are off to all those who have to make decisions based on unpredictable weather. The jobs aren’t easy but must be done. We believe they were done as they should have been.