Everyone talks about the weather,

but no one does anything about it. ~ Unknown

I’m a weather nerd. I admit it. It may go back to my days as a kid on a farm and the boredom of being the only person under thirty. At least weather was different. It could come from the days when I had to fly around in it every day, or when I taught others about it as part of their flight training. Or it may just come from living in Florida, where weather’s so predictable (in the short term) that it’s easy to understand.

Whatever the reason, I’m fascinated by it. I love looking at weather maps. I love looking at the sky and prognosticating, and then watching to find out how close my predictions were. I love being able to say (offhand, of course) to a northern visitor, “Oh, don’t worry, it’ll (whatever)…” with a reasonable chance of being right. I like looking at clouds. I enjoy storms. Sunshine bores me.

Since the Weather Channel arrived, a lot of other nuts seem to’ve crawled out of the woodwork (to mix a metaphor.) I read somewhere that many people list TWC on TV polls as a source of entertainment. And believe me, it’s amazing what that bunch of professional weather nerds can do! I’ve learned more about meteorology watching the Weather Channel than I did when I studied and taught it.

Satellite images and computer simulations have changed “weather science” from oxymoron into fact. People complain about errors in forecasting afternoon rain showers, forgetting that there was a time when the only way you knew a hurricane was coming was by hit-or-miss radio reports in Morse code from the ships that were caught in it!

We now understand things like microclimates, which can be influenced by things as seemingly minor as the heat rising off a big asphalt parking lot. We know about sea breeze fronts, and why the little cumulus clouds over the Gulf Stream in the morning often spawn waterspouts. We even follow the pregnancies of the ladies on the Weather Channel and send them baby gifts!

Weather forecasting is a multi-billion-dollar business, and understandably so. Nothing affects us more, on a daily basis–our food production, highway safety, air travel, bad hair days. Nonetheless, we mostly take weather for granted, generally noticing it only when it interferes with our lives in some small way.

Except for us weather nerds. We know that the best spot on the net for weather coverage is Weather Underground. We have links on our browsers to meteorological services and the local Doppler RADAR, and little thingies on our desks that keep track of what’s happening outdoors via radio — much more scientific than looking out the window, donchaknow. We get all excited when NOAA launches a new satellite. We probably need to get a life — but we love it.

“The great thing about being the only species that makes a distinction between right and wrong is that we can make up the rules for ourselves as we go along.”

~ Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See


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