Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Weather or Not You Care

by J.D., posted by CmdrSue

Ah, weather, the 100% chance that there is likely to be an atmospheric event somewhere at sometime involving water.

I've always been curious about the change from the days of rural back porch conversations: "Yep, Matilda-May, that was sure one heckfire t'rruble storm last night. Why I saw Burt Wilkin's barn blow clean past the co-op, and people way out 'cross th' state will be werin' old Lady Crickenberger's laundry this summer. Guess I'll head out yonder an' locate our youngin's what didn't make 'er to the root cellar in time."

Now, with the advent of CNN, the Weather Channel, and Weather Alert Radios, those good old spring showers have been upgraded to "RAIN EVENTS". Makes me feel like I should run out to the local Ticketron to get seats - front row, center. Those wonderfully spectacular summer thunderstorms now set off bells, sirens, and almost require a state of martial law. Fall frost and mold counts are delivered like the coming of an apocalypse, and winter snowfall has become the reason for people (especially in the Mid-Atlantic states) to flee to the local grocery to stock up on supplies like we are preparing for nuclear sheltering.

Last year's barrage of hurricanes and tornados was the BEST prime time viewing for almost 3 months. Iraq what?? We have WIND, by golly! As a "Disaster Action Team" volunteer (REAL title & still waiting for my red cape and tights), I can tell you that the scramble and panic to "respond" was at an all-time pique. At first, we committed many of our human resources, then recruited new volunteers, later drafted community members, and finally just tackled people (sticking a vest, volunteer badge, and clipboard on their prone struggling forms) to meet the demand (a fact still hotly disputed by many who are still waiting for that return phone call...).

All in all, I am thrilled!! I love to watch our Ken & Barbie "Climate consultants" and meterologists (which used to require significant physics and atmospheric science study, but now means you look great in a rain slicker and push-up bra) relating the day's weather news. Rain is now precipitation (so is snow, ice, etc. making the prediction SO much more accurate), fog is a limited visibility period, and every form of natural phenomenon can be rated on some scale with "We're all gonna die" stuck at the top. Still waiting for the inception of the NGF Scale (Noah Global Flooding).

Our tools have gone from looking at a mercury themometer, watching the reactions of animals that have survived millions of years with limited shelter, and just plain looking up, to techno toys of an epic proportion. Now, we bring our Doppler Radar stations, a barrage of space based satellite arrays and equipment, stream gauges, snow pillows, tipping buckets, and millions of internet based live feed "Home Weather Staions" to bear on the problem. Yes, WE ARE DOING IT RIGHT!! However, you can still take bets on any given day as to whether you have a 40% chance for rain, 8% chance for snow, and .003% chance of frogs falling from the sky. See your fave meteorologist at Denny's? Ask them what the weather will be like in 4 hours, and watch him/her break into a cold sweat like an 6th grader called in front of the class and required to define anti-disestablishmentarianism. So, perhaps watching for squirrels gathering nuts is not that bad an idea ...

I am REALLY not bitter. I am actually comforted that we still have a hard time with weather and predicting nature or other higher power's "plan" for the day. Makes me feel comfortable and helps me maintain that child-like fascination when you hear that first rumble of thunder or see the first few stray snowflakes. Yep, I'm in for the show ... bring it on! Oh, and remember to take an umbrella when you head out today ... it might rain ;-).

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