When the nation's attention focuses on an area fighting the worst of a winter storm, politicians are making decisions and declarations that follow them throughout their political career. And some portions of the nation have seen an onslaught of unrelenting snowstorms this winter.
In new research from Andrew Reeves, professor at Washington University in St. Louis, and Douglas Kriner, professor at Boston University, the link to a politician's storm response and overall public image is strong.
"Not only does a major snowstorm launch an unexpected stress test on already strained budgets, it lets us observe leaders reacting to unexpected crises without much lead time," Reeves said in a press release.
The reaction and planning done by public officials are scrutinized by anyone from national TV pundits to residents arguing at local grocery stores. In order to protect citizens and prevent widespread hazards, local and state government make decisions that impact the daily life of their constituents.
Snow, ice and severe weather can prompt the call for travel bans, state of emergency declarations, federal office closures to public transportation shutdowns and much more.
Through social media and press conferences, affected citizens have access to real-time decisions and opinions by their local leaders.
In advance of the Blizzard of 2015 in late January, New York City mayor Bill De Blasio cited that the storm could be one of the "biggest snowstorms in the history of this city."
This led to proactively shutting down public transpiration and roads, essentially ensuring residents would stay home and out of the way of snow removal efforts.
It's 11 p.m. Roads are officially closed to unauthorized vehicles. #SafeNYC— NYC Mayor's Office (@NYCMayorsOffice) January 27, 2015
Though the storm slammed Long Island with destructive snow, the city's snowfall did not live up to the mayor's hype.
"Given the past voter backlash against responses that are (or at least appear) inept, it's of little surprise that Mayor De Blasio took an aggressive response even though the storm didn't live up to the initial forecasts for New York," Reeves said.
In Buffalo, two rapid lake-effect snowstorms that delivered nearly 7 feet of snow to some neighborhoods rendered half of the city shut down in late November. Highway travel was banned as abandoned cars littered the roadways. Crews worked tirelessly for days in attempts to rescue stranded drivers and move the snow.
New York Gov. Cuomo criticized the National Weather Service and other industry forecasters for the information distributed prior to the massive snowfall event. He later apologized.
"To the extent any forecaster felt that they were criticized, that was not the intention," Cuomo said in a Western New York press conference.