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Think Too Much: Surviving Orion's bitter blast, ironically

Think Too Much: Surviving Orion's bitter blast, ironically

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You knew we were having a serious weather event last week when The Weather Channel gave the storm its own name.

I’ve written before about the silliness of The Weather Channel’s practice, now in its second year, of affixing individual names to major winter storms as if they were so many hurricanes.

But that was before we all had the chance to live through the sheer force of what we now know was “Winter Storm Orion.”

Now … well, it’s still silly, although the practice certainly has attracted a lot of publicity for The Weather Channel, up to and including this column.

As it turned out, much of The Weather Channel’s coverage of Orion focused on how the storm was bringing badly needed snowpack to the Cascades, which was a good thought to keep in mind as my Prius got stuck in snow berms on a couple of occasions Friday.

And as I dug out, I also reflected on the meaning behind “Orion,” one of the mythological-themed names dreamed up by a high school class in Montana for The Weather Channel’s use in the 2013-14 winter storm season.

Seeing how Orion seemed to save many of its worst blows for Corvallis, you could be forgiven for thinking that perhaps Orion was the god of public process or, perhaps, public works. However, in Greek mythology, Orion was a giant huntsman. After his death – which may or may not have come after battling a giant scorpion – Zeus agreed to place Orion into the heavens as the constellation that bears his name, a nice touch. Everything else being equal, however, my suspicion is that, given a choice, Orion might have preferred not having to battle the scorpion in the first place.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with weather, and if this storm had hit a week earlier or a week later, we’d be talking about a completely different mythological figure, which again goes to show the silliness of this naming practice. In years to come, most of us will just be talking about the big storm of February 2014, and that will be sufficient.

Along with a lot of snow, the big storm of February 2014 brought out some of the best and most ironic press releases I’ve seen in years. Among them: “Don’t be Atlanta,” a plea from the Oregon Department of Transportation to residents of Portland begging them to drive with more sanity than did the residents of Atlanta when they got hit with, um, Winter Storm Leon.

And it was hard not to smile when we learned that one of the routes in Portland’s “Worst Day of the Year” bicycle ride on Sunday was canceled when it turned out that Sunday actually threatened to be, if not the worst day of the year, maybe in the Top 10. The same bitter irony afflicted Saturday’s Polar Plunge events in Corvallis, Portland and Eugene. In those cases, organizers swallowed hard and opted to for safety.

Orion, of course, would have taken the plunge. And look where it got him. (mm)

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