Recently here in "Antarctica on the Potomac," I listened to a confrontation between one of the local TV weather forecasters and a school official from a local jurisdiction. It seems that a group of commentators were discussing the current round of major snowstorms to afflict our area and the school system's preparations (or lack of same) for the event.
The school representative referred to the snow "event" as "unexpected," and was called to account by the weatherman, who took great pains to point out that the school's contracted weather service hadn't "expected" the event but the station's meteorological team had accurately predicted it.
The point was that there are distinct qualitative differences between forecasts, depending upon their source.
Well, that's all fine, but I still must confess that most weather predictions strike me as among the best collection of "weasel words" ever assembled. Once in school I recall a visiting meteorological speaker explaining the day's "60-70% chance of precipitation" forecast in the following words:
"We think it's 'gonna rain, but we ain't sure."
It's to the vast army of "weather fans" that today's piece is dedicated.
It was autumn, and the Indians on the remote reservation asked their new chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild.
Since he was an Indian Chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky, he couldn't tell what the weather was going to be. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared.
Also, being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the weather service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?"
"It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed," the meteorologist at the weather service responded.
The chief accordingly went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared.
A week later, he called the weather service again.
"Is it going to be a very cold winter?"
"Yes, it's definitely going to be a very cold winter."
This time the chief instructed his people to collect every scrap of wood they could find.
Two weeks later, he called the weather service again.
"Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?"
"Absolutely," the man replied. "It's going to be one of the coldest winters ever."
"How can you be so sure?" the chief asked.
The weatherman replied,
"The Indians are collecting wood like crazy ..."
-----------------A Final Thought ...
"The weather is like the government, always in the wrong."
- Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927), British author
Here's an observation from Tim Martin in The Philippines, inspired by yesterday's "Weather" comments:
"In Washington, DC I have always thought it would be a better idea to have the weathermen predict the economy and the economist predict the weather. Accuracy of both would not be affected and we wouldn't be tempted to believe either one of them."
- Tim..I got a million of 'em...Martin