Weather Woes! Or Fun in the Snow?

Blizzard '78 CharlieThree of our five children are old enough to remember The Blizzard of ’78 that occurred in Massachusetts during the 20 years that we lived there. With very little warning (as I recall), snow began falling just before the afternoon commute, stranding many travelers on the Beltway around Boston and other major highways. At our house (20 miles south of Boston), we were lucky. Everyone was home. I had just been to the grocery store, and we didn’t lose power. A lot of snow was a rarity for us, but that night about 4 feet fell (as measured on our driveway), and strong winds blew snow upwards and into the vents of our attic. (We discovered that when it started to melt and drip through the ceiling in our bedroom.) The Governor declared the state “closed” and forbid us to even try to go anywhere. The kids were thrilled! No school, no work, no church for a week, just plenty of time to play in the snow while the adults took shifts trying to shovel out the driveway. This was made more difficult by the fact that the snowplow that finally came only did the side of the road opposite our house, making the path we had to shovel about 10 feet longer. It took us at least 2 days to finish the job! Blizzard '78 Karen LaneThe pictures I’ve included show the snow banks on either side of the street and on the side of our driveway a few days later. Our now grown children are remembering that epic storm and talking about it on Facebook, as they listen to news reports about what is happening with the weather east of Salt Lake City, where most of us now live.

Monday night, 2/3/14, Brian Williams of NBC Nightly News reported that another round of snow storms would start that night and continue through the coming weekend, affecting people in at least 27 states. Wherever you live, it’s a pretty sure bet that this winter has not been a normal one for you weather-wise. The 2014 cold wave that started the first week in January has affected Canada and the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, extending as far south as Central Florida. Heavy snow fall affected many of those states, and many low temperature records were broken. Business, school, and road closures, as well as mass flight cancellations were common. At the same time, the Southwest and West Coast experienced record high temperatures and drought conditions.

NBC News also reported that the effect of the breakdown of the polar vortex and subsequent southward movement of Arctic air has, to this point, cost individuals and businesses over $5 billion, including the following and more:
• $2.5 billion in losses to airlines and passengers that experienced over 1600 delays in NY alone
• Major traffic difficulties, making it impossible for people to get to school, work and stores
• Heating bills up 50 percent for over 60 million people
• Businesses suffering because people have been unable to get out and spend money

Has your business been negatively affected by weather over the past couple of months? Do you foresee that the economic impact will be ongoing in the debt collection industry, even after the “big chill” and drought are gone? Some businesses that commonly experience a negative impact in bad weather include, construction, car sales, farming, travel and transportation of goods from one part of the country to another.

I encourage you to read a very interesting article I found titled “How Weather Influences the Economy” by Cecilia Sze and Paul Walsh. Some of the more interesting points they make are:
• Estimates indicate that 30% of gross domestic product is directly or indirectly affected by weather.
• The effects of weather vary greatly from place to place, depending on what people are used to.
• Weather is critical for predicting year-over-year same-store sales.
• Local weather controls commodity supply and demand.
• Colder winters in the Northeast increase the demand for fuel oil.
• Weather causes business interruptions and supply-chain outages.
• Many power companies in the affected areas ask their customers to conserve electricity.

Some industries have benefitted from the storms and cold, including video on demand, restaurants that offer delivery service, convenience stores, use of gift cards to shop from home and flights to warm places. Another source of interesting information about this winter’s weather can be found here.

Here in Utah, the weather forecasters are moaning about the below-normal amount of snow in the mountains, necessary for the ski industry and our water supply in the summer. If you have a weather-related story to tell, we’d love to hear from you, especially if it has affected your collection business. We hope that all of our good friends and customers have not been too adversely affected by the weather, and that the extremes of temperature, snow and drought will soon give way to a beautiful spring!

By Marti Lythgoe, NL Editor

Categories: Business Relationships, NL Insider

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