Archive for August 11th, 2009

In a sort of diagonal swipe at staying on the theme of NaBloPoMo’s “Tomorrow,”  I decided to talk about our weather and our local weather forecasters.   See, if you are a weather forecaster, you are supposed to be telling people what the weather is going to be like not only tomorrow, but for the next seven days or so.   The supposition is that this knowledge will allow people to plan their weekend activities secure in the knowledge that they will be able to set up camp on a gravel bar by the river and not have their tents and equipment washed away by a sudden rise in water level while they are off exploring the nearby cave.   Or something like that.

The real problem with this theory is that the Ozarks is a notoriously difficult spot to predict the weather for.   The reason for that is, — wait.  I urge you to get out your map of North America and locate the southwest corner of Missouri, and note that it is a rather low elevation plateau sort of in the middle of the Mississippi and Missouri River drainage.   Look to the south:  you see the Gulf of Mexico.    Look to the north:   there is a large expanse of more or less flat plains leading straight to the Canadian Arctic.

Okay.   Now imagine the battle between the warm mass of air carrying lots of moisture evaporating off the Gulf of Mexico which is slowly wafting north, and the rather cold dry air that is slowly sinking south from the North American Arctic Plain.    Add to the mixture the quixotic actions of the Jet Stream as it moves from west to east across the continent, and you have a local climate that enjoys rapidly shifting weather patterns.

They shift so rapidly that a common saying around here is, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes.   It’ll change.”

Once, about 5 years ago or so, for almost a whole month, one of our TV weathermen was so bold as to offer to grade himself on the previous night’s forecast.   I think he got an A once, several B’s.  The majority of his grades were ruefully calculated as C’s and D’s.   When he had a string of four or five D’s and F’s in a row, the “grading system” was dropped without comment, never to return to the airwaves.

Because of the notoriously fickle Ozarks weather patterns, we were just treated to the following combination of events.

Night before last our local TV weatherman was heard to say, on the air, with literally hundreds of listeners, that “tomorrow” we would enjoy a nice sunny day in the high to mid 80s with gathering clouds in the afternoon and a chance of showers by late afternoon.    The day following that would bring us a chance of badly needed rain and a respite from the heat.

Yesterday morning about the time I got up, we were treated to a little rain shower.   According to the radar, there was a break in the clouds, and then another band of rain behind that.  At the end of the day, we had received 1.25 inches of rain.   Down in Springfield, the actual location of the TV weatherman’s office and studio, they received anywhere from 2.5 to 4 inches of rain in a slow moving deluge that lasted for several hours beginning about 11 a.m.  There were flooded streets and low water crossings.    No winds, so no wind damage, no power outages.

That evening, the weather anchor reported on the day’s events, I think they had a record amount of rain for 24 hours on an August day or some such thing.   And since the forecast of the night before was just that, in the past, no reference was made to his egregious error in predictions.

Nobody cares, nobody believes him anyway.   The jet stream can shift in an instant and all bets are off.   We know that.

But we do laugh at him, postulate imaginary rantings in his office, etc.  when the rain begins to fall on a day that was “supposed” to be hot and sunny.

Poor Weather Guesser.

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