Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Don’t need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows

Over the winter, one of my favorite pastimes is yelling at television “meteorologists.” These people add a certain entertainment element to my life that I’d miss if I moved somewhere like San Diego where the weather is always perfect. I’m not blaming them for the cold weather, mind you, although I can’t think of anyone else who is more responsible for it. What I’m trying to do is hold them to a higher standard. Unfortunately, as I’ve learned from experience (and as my wife so frequently points out), they can’t hear me.

This morning, it was 11 degrees in DC. As I was making my coffee, I heard someone on NBC 4 make the observation that “if there is any water on any surface outside, it will be frozen.” Of course, this is the same person that they always pick to stand outside in front of a bank thermometer in the pre-dawn hours to report on just how cold it is, the same person who never wears a hat and gets the riveting footage of pedestrians walking down the street and stops motorists who invariably comment “it’s cold!” I believe they let her write her own copy.

Cutting back to the news rooms, Joe Krebs goes over a list of things you should do to keep warm: wear a coat. Wear a hat. Wear gloves. This bears no comments from me at all, except to ask, who, exactly, does Joe think watches NBC 4? Perhaps I need to change the station. I don’t think I’m a good fit.

Then there are the “average temperature” shenanigans. Two weeks ago with temperatures in the 50s, we were told over and over how our temperatures were “above average.” Now, with highs hovering around 20 degrees, we’re told they are now “below average.” The problem is (and this is a mathematical problem, so I apologize; I find using my toes helps quite a bit) that an “average temperature” is calculated (I assume) by adding up the high temperature from, say, all the February 6ths for the past 75 years, and then dividing that number by 75. Seems pretty scientific, doesn’t it? The only problem is, it may never be, and may never have been, the temperature that the resulting “average” turns out to be. In fact, there’s a good chance that there were more February 6ths when the temperature was wildly NOT the average temperature than February 6ths that it actually WAS the average temperature, rendering the idea of an “average temperature” meaningless. What good is it anyway? I don’t base any decision on how I’m going to dress or what activities I’m going engage in based on a historical “average” temperature. I’d look awfully silly most of the time if I did. (I mean, awfully sillier than I currently look most of the time.)

I’m not one of those people from a northern clime that guffaws at this region’s neurotic response to winter. (In fact, I make it a rule not to guffaw at anything. It distorts one’s features in such an undignified way.) People come from all over to live in this city. There’s no reason that someone born and raised in Florida should know how to drive in snow, just as there is no reason for someone born and raised in Pittsburgh should know how to, ah, drive in, ah, nice weather -- Okay, so people from the north are simply better drivers. But I refuse to guffaw. Anyway, we are obsessed with weather, and thank god we are. I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have it to blog about!


Ar-Jew-Tino said...

I'm unnaturally obssessed with Sue Palka. She can tell me to wear a parka anytime.

kwest said...

Apparently, you're not alone: http://www.suepalka.com/ (in a strange twist of meteorological confustion, I always thought her name was actually Sue PARKA)

Alejandra said...

I am so very happy that I stumbled upon your blog today...briliant. Absolutely brilliant!