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Do You Believe? The Reality of the Fallacy of The Weather Channel Forecasting
Weather. It controls us, it dictates to us what we will do today, tomorrow, always. It is beyond our control, and at times we curse it, as it destroys our plans for the day, week, weekend. It also has the ability to create havoc for us in terms of our food, our very sustenance from the land. We depend upon it to a point where we have worshipped it, put forth sacrifices to the Gods of Weather in years past. Today, those who attempt to give us an insight into the future of weather would have us worship them as all seeing, all knowing godlike humans.
I was watching the Weather Channel last evening, attempting to pull some semblance of what would be occurring in the near future regarding the storms that were tracking our way here in Missouri. They were foretold to be possibly severe, with opportunities for heavy rainfall, wind, hail and tornadic activity. This storm had been playing hell with the states to the west and south of us, and at one point both Oklahoma and Kansas having the unique opportunity of heavy rain, sleet, freezing rain, and snow all happening as this storm moved eastward across these states. It was to reach our area, in the certainty of these weather prognosticators, around 7:30 PM or so. I worked in my garden, tilling and fertilizing it one last time before this coming weekend when I plan to plant the starts and seeds I had purchased. I finished, then went in to sit down and see what would happen.
Not a helluva lot. At least, not here.
The storm was tracking more north than east, so it looked like it would reach our area later in the evening, or overnight. Just two hours ago it was going to hit us within two hours. Now it will be more like eight hours from two hours ago. We went to bed having closed all of the windows and securing them against the coming storm. My lovely wife and I settled in for a restless night's sleep, as many in the Joplin area do whenever a possibly tornadic storm is approaching. Just before I flicked off the TV, I looked one last time at the Weather Channel's forecast for our area. I stopped in stunned disbelief as I saw the following: Low tonight 49 degrees F with light snow.
49? Light snow??
Now, I was no banner student in school. I never achieved Star Student Status (S.S.S.), but even I know that water freezes at 32 degrees F. Snow has to have really cold temperatures to appear, and while 49 is cool, I don't think that it is quite cold enough for any type of snow, light or otherwise. Generally speaking, I think I am fairly correct if I say that the temperatures need to be somewhere around the 30's for snow to appear, don't you think? Maybe 40 if one was to stretch it just a bit. Nearly 50? Not a snowball's chance in hell (heh heh heh).
Have these Weather Personalities gotten so wrapped up in themselves, and their "Reality" show of weather that they have forgotten how to forecast the weather? I mean, forty years ago we had a local weatherman named Lee George who forecast flurries, and within 24 hours we had 30 inches of snow on the ground. He never lived that down, and if you mention his name to anyone who was living at that time, they will immediately smile and say "Oh yeah; flurries!" Surely we have gotten better than that, haven't we? I mean in forty years of advances, and technology, and satellites, we should be able to do a better job than that?
No, not really. Why? Because weather is beyond our control so completely that we cannot even know what it will do with any degree of certainty, and the weathermen (and women) stoop to making things up, or guessing, and putting it out as gospel truth. The Weather Channel, which literally millions of people watch daily, has become a Reality Show, full of personalities and stunts and such in order to take our minds off the fact that they don't know what the hell will happen tomorrow. I mean, they couldn't even tell me what was going to happen in the next ten hours last night!
What happened last night here in Joplin? Nuttin. One to two inches of rain? Not even enough to wet my porch. Light snow? Nope. Thunder and lightning? None of the former, a little of the latter. Wind, hail, heavy rainfall? Nope, nope and nope.
Maybe they should spend that money they are currently spending on their reality shows, like Reef Wranglers, Prospectors, Coast Guard Alaska-Florida-HMS Bounty, It Could Happen Tomorrow, Forecasting the End (The End? Hell they can't forecast this afternoon!), and Hacking The Planet and use that money for better satellites, or radar, or schooling for those people who are supposed to tell us what the weather will be like tomorrow. They could even cut the budget to bare bones and have a show like "What's Going On Right Now In Your Neck Of The Woods" where they visit with local weathermen from around the country and invite those people to step outside and say what they see right then. I'm pretty sure they might be fairly accurate on that show.
"This is Big Al Roker coming to you from the Weather Channel. Steve, are you with us?"
"Yes, Al, I'm here. It looks like the sun is out right now, and I cannot see any clouds in sight, so I would guess that means fair skies for at least the next ten minutes or so."
"Okay, Steve thanks for that insightful look into the weather in Boca Raton. Now we'll go to Amy in Alaska. Amy?"
"Well All, it's cold here as it should be in January here in Nome. I believe I can look out this window and see snow. Yes, yes I see snow both on the ground and coming down at the moment! I would say that means it is cold and snowy outside, so if you want to go out today you better bundle up!"
I know I know, stop the sarcasm. But it's so much fun!
Listen, Weather Channel. Just stop pretending you can really tell the future. If we want to be made a fool of, we'll go pay some gypsy woman in a tent or wagon to look into her crystal ball and tell us about a tall, dark, handsome man or how many children we are going to have, or when we will die. All we want from you is what is going to happen today with a certain degree of accuracy, and maybe tomorrow. I mean, after all we only live one day at a time, and if we look too far into the future we are bound to get made a fool of. Stop making it so easy for us to laugh at you, and to get upset with you when our plans for a sunny weekend getaway get drowned out because it's raining cats and dogs instead of sunny and 80 like you told us yesterday!!
Pull Mike Bettis back in from chasing tornadoes. Let the amateurs do it and send in their videos; you stay in the control room and talk about them. That'll save some money, and allow you to better forecast for those of us who depend upon you. Get Jim Cantore in from the Fall Foliage Forecast and have him give today's forecast. Bottom line is give us what we want and need, not what you want us to want. We don't need the weather to be a reality show; it's enough of a reality in our daily lives as it is.
So, what is the weather doing outside my window right now? Raining. What does the Weather Channel say it is doing? 100% chance of rain. Wow, they got it right. Now build on that success and give me tomorrow's forecast.
Maybe they should check into that Chaos Theory. You know, the one that says a butterfly will flap its wings in China, and New York gets rain instead of sun. Maybe they'll have better luck with it.