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Death from Above!

May 6, 2009

I've detailed it several times before, about how truly awful and terrible our weather forecasters are down here in North By God Carolina. Usually, my gripes surround the inability to predict winter weather, typically because a snowy day--or the mere mention of snow--is enough to bring businesses and schools to a halt. I then get a free day off. I think we'll all agree that any day I get off is a good day.

*ahem*

I learned this past weekend that the weather forecasters are equally inept when it comes to predicting rain events. The forecast for this past weekend was originally supposed to feature highs in the upper 80s and storms all weekend long. The weather turned out to be a balmy 82 with cloudless skies for the better part of the weekend. A few places perhaps on the fringe of the "forecast area" saw some rain. And by a few, I mean one. The rest of us basked in glorious spring weather.

Not that I'm necessarily complaining, mind. Weather like this causes the skirts to go higher and the tops to not only plunge lower, but to also become strappier. This makes trips to the local Target, which is conveniently wedged between two large universities, more tolerable, if not pleasurable.

However, I'm thinking I should expand my bubble of disdain toward climactic precognizance to include the higher-ups on the weatherman totem pole. Now, I will preface this by saying that the forecast for tonight did mention the threat of rain, with slight chance of spawning a rumble of thunder or two. Neat. I love a good evening thunderstorm.

Imagine my confusion, then, when I heard that there was a tornado warning for the counties east of Raleigh. Naturally, my kids freaked when they heard this, despite my calm and curmudgeony reassurances that they were under no immediate danger. We made it home and I switched on the weather to find that there were two separate tornado warnings, both east of Raleigh.

Huh, I thought, internally mocking the powers that forecast the weather, sounds like a little more than a rumble of thunder or two.

As the evening wore on, there were more tornadoes. More warnings. And then, while a tornado bore down on the capital city of Raleigh, with another two off to the east, the National Weather System suddenly decided that they should issue the dreaded Tornado Watch for the area. This was hours after the first tornado had already been sighted, reported, and storm-chased. Brilliantly done, fellows! Why don't you follow up with something else, like how we shouldn't trust this Hitler guy or that Christopher Columbus is about to find something! We'll definitely know that you guys have your fingers on the collective pulse of society then.

I realize that this isn't Oklahoma, where they are pretty much under a tornado watch twenty-four hours a day. However, you'd think they'd press the button on the all-powerful weather machine--you know, the one that (inaccurately) predicts the Atlantic Hurricane season and says that drought-stricken parts of the country are going to remain abnormally dry, only to find northern Florida and Houston both flooded a week later--and use it to, oh, I don't know, issue a tornado watch in a more timely manner.

Perhaps that's too much to ask. After all, this is the same group of people who just recently picked up on that warming trend that started 11,000 years ago.

27 comments:

Kristine said...

I always thought the excuse was that meteorology was really so "difficult" and kind of "fringe science." Not true, Mr. Scientist?

Also, you WON. Come get it.

Anna Russell said...

Scotland in Spring is easier. They just have to say "It's going to look gorgeous this morning so go out in flip flops and a sundress. You will be freezing and drenched by 2pm".

Scope said...

This time of year, our forecasters can't even try, bless their hearts. They can't tell you that the morning will be glorious, but 15 minutes before you head out to lunch, the winds will shift, the temperature will drop 35 degrees and it will rain like mad, except when it decides not too, but as soon as you get back to your office, it will clear up again.

They would need to be in the witness protection program if they go that right.

Lana said...

i compulsively check weather.com and yet still end up being the dumbass going to buy groceries in flip flops when the biggest rainfall of all time traps me in stop and shop.

ps. kristine told me to come here because you like latin, and i do everything she tells me to. so, hi!

Nej said...

We also belong to the "constant tornado watch and warning from March 1 to October 31" club. In true Midwest nature, we run outside to see what all the commotion is, instead of hiding in our basement.

"They" forecasted rain for us all weekend....and we got about 5 minutes of sprinkles...total.

Normally I LOVE rain and storms, but we're trying to build a deck in our back yard, so the inaccuracies of weathermen is OK....for now. :-)

the iNDefatigable mjenks said...

@ Kristine: That may be their excuse, but meteorology, as a study, fits in with other branches of the physical sciences. Still, you'd think that logic and reason would say, "Hey, tornadoes dropping from the sky all over the place...maybe we should put up a watch..."

I'm. A. Winner.

@ Anna R: Is that spring in Scotland, or Summer?

@ Scope: Dude, you have the all-powerful and omniscient Tom Skilling. He doesn't forecast the weather; the weather does what he tells it to.

@ Lana: Welcome, Lana. The Weather Channel last night was lousy, too. They were like "Well, there's tornadoes ripping through Raleigh right now, so let's focus on New York City where it's not raining...but it might later!"

@ Nej: Oh, I know. Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Oklahoma and Texas. Tornadoes are like kittens out there. And I'm in the same boat. In college when we'd get a tornado warning, we'd run outside to see what was going on.

Sassy Britches said...

Too bad for you that the caveman- times couture doesn't go along with the caveman-times weather forecasting. That'd be better than short skirts and strappy tops I'd think, and you'd probably forget all about your grievances.

Nej said...

Cute, cuddly, knock you house down and throw a cow across the road kittens. :-)

Gwen said...

I've forsaken weatherpeople for opening the back door to check things out myself.

Jess said...

Apparently there was a funnel cloud down the street from me. I thought it was just supposed to rain.

Jess said...

Oh...and when I told a coworker his response was, "oh so the storm wasn't that bad". Take a guess who that was.

BeckEye said...

I can't take "meteorology" seriously, especially when the weather reports are usually delivered by girls with ridiculous names like Misty Summers, and who still wear jackets with shoulder pads.

red said...

What is this "weather" you speak of?

Soda and Candy said...

Heh. You said "get off".

; )

Frank said...

I always check the internets for my forecast, but it's always misleading. The icon for the day will be a big black cloud with lots of rain and lightning coming out of it, but then below it will say we only have a 10% chance of rain...

Will Shannon said...

Yes, I think our word "meterologist" comes from the Latin for "lying sack of shit." A Friday Latin Lesson for the future, perhaps?

Anyway, there are few TV wethermen who seem to get it right in these parts. The best is, of course, Tom "My Brother Destroyed Enron" Skilling in Chicago. In Wisconsin, it's Bob "Four Degree Guarantee" Lindmeier.

Now, two facts. The first (what could be considered) modern weather station that issued daily forecasts was established in the 1860's in...Scotland. It was on the top of Ben Nevis, the tallest peak in the British Isles (if you don't count Prince Charles's receding hairline).

Secondly, the first tornado warning broadcast over live television was in...Chicago. Legendary weatherman Harry Volkman was privy to the weather reports given to Great Lakes Naval Training Center and, upon spotting some rough conditions one day in 1961, he went live with them.

Nikki said...

I hope you realise you have just doomed Oklahoma to severe weather. Feel good?

Susan said...

I am trying to convince my girls to go into meteorology. I swear, it is the perfect career. And by the way, I just love your vocabulary.

words...words...words... said...

I would just like to say that I love the tornado warning sign. It's almost as good as the "Beware illegals crossing the freeway" signs you see south of San Diego.

Phat Mama said...

I'm in NC too. Yesterday was supposed to be scattered thunderstorms. -Scattered-

People are rowing their beamers down the streets today.

Cora said...

I love thunderstorms. I will leap out of bed at 2am to watch a good ole thunderstorm if it hits. And I will be giggling like a little girl too.

*hee hee*

Tornadoes? Yeah, not so much. Yikes.

LiLu said...

Wuss.

coolred38 said...

We were told to expect severe thunderstorms with a chance of sunny skies...imagine how correct they were when our street was cut right down the middle as if by a ruler...thunderstorm on one side...sunny sky on the other. No lie...it happened...Superior Wyo 1983. It was our little miracle...

Eric said...

*ahem* lol

~E said...

just another excuse to ride a furry extinct mammal and prance around in public in leopard print undies.

Fortunately I don't need one.

An excuse I mean.

Sass said...

*snort*

Any day you get off is a good day.

*and again...snort*

Fancy Schmancy said...

I love that our local weather-forecaster said on air that you shouldn't ask him what the hell is going on, because he doesn't know!