Sunday night between 10 and 11pm, three local TV meteorologists forecast that Monday would be “mostly cloudy, with some showers probable in the evening.” Based on those scientific predictions, and since we’ve been rather dry lately, and because I’m still trying to get our lawn to recover from its bake-until-brown summer by watering it daily, I set our sprinklers to go off in the early hours of Monday. Then I went to bed. When I woke up around 7:30am, just nine hours after the weather experts had told us it wouldn’t rain until Monday night, it was pouring outside.
Okay, so they got it wrong. It’s not the first time, and the extra moisture won’t kill my lawn, but I had begun to believe that the science of weather had reached the point when they could at least get the next day correct. Then I started thinking about the Farmers’ Almanac, which began making long-term weather predictions (in print) since 1818, when the only way to be sure about the weather was to step outside and look at the sky. And people bought it, even thought those forecasts weren’t made a day ahead of time — the predictions for each annual edition were made two years in advance of the publication date, with methodology slightly less exact than we have in the 21st century. In the 19th century, the closest they came to Doppler radar was finding a cat named Doppler and spinning him around ten times. If he threw up a fur ball, it meant hail.
Which brings me to the other meteorological prediction that drives me crazy. Around this time each year, some “expert” pronounces his long-range forecast for the upcoming winter, predicting it will be unusually cold, or won’t have as much snow as last year, or will start earlier, or whatever. It doesn’t matter whether he was right or wrong last year — the media, which never goes back to check and hold anyone accountable, dutifully reports his prediction, as if we’re supposed to do something with the information, like postpone the family ski trip until President’s Day weekend. Again, remember that weather is such an inexact science that they couldn’t tell us on a local level last night that there was a storm moving in this morning, and we’re supposed to believe that this guru of the jetstream can predict in September how harsh it’s going to get in February — for the entire nation?
It’s nonsense, no more reliable than this guy used to be at forecasting the weather…