Monday, December 17, 2007

Weather or Not?

Weathermen are obviously obsessed with the weather, and not just because they want to know if they need to bundle up on their way to the meteorological lab, but because it is their life. But weathermen come in all types of shapes, sizes, and levels of qualification.

On television, where REPORTING the weather supersedes the actual study of weather, where no change in the weather is bad for business, weathermen have advertised themselves over the range from full-fledged meteorologist to "forecaster," a euphemism for "windy guesser." With their high-tech equipment and fancy computer graphics, these teleguessers are in a high-stakes competition with other networks for viewership. As a result, they try to outdo each other in their sensational reporting of mother nature's temperament by giving you updates on the half-hour (in case you don't have a window to look out of), or by offering a 10-day outlook (in case you want to know what it won't be like in a week and a half from today.)

If it's hot, they talk about eagerly anticipating some relief in the form of cooler weather. When it's cold, they encourage their viewers to "hang in there! Warmer temperatures are coming." They seem incapable of just reporting the facts without adding their colorful, subjective opinions. I wish for once that they would just enjoy the current conditions, instead of trying to plug their next forecast.

I would love to tune in one day and hear that freezing rain and high winds are awaiting me on my morning commute without the reminder to "bundle up!" and without the negative framing of the whole situation: "we should be getting some relief by early this afternoon." Relief from what? Freezing rain IS a relief . . . . from NON-freezing rain. As infrequently as we GET freezing rain, why not embrace and savor it instead of pining for the glory days of the soft, wet rain rather than the piercing, painful kind?

And what's with all the NAMING of weather events. Will anybody ever remember "Arctic Blast Severe Sleet Storm Saturday: 2007?" We're more likely to remember the gaudy digital effects, the grave sincerity of the reporter who fears the end-of-days, and the outrageous appellation rather than the conditions outside our door.

When the weather changes, it's the lead story, but only as a teaser advertisement for whats to come later in the broadcast. Oh sure, they'll tell you immediately what the weather was like for the past few hours, this is when their forecasting at their best, maybe they'll even read their thermometer for you while mentioning their Doppler Deluxe X-3000k machine, but if you want to know how to dress tomorrow morning, you'll have to wait until the end of the broadcast.

So will it freeze tonight? Well, that all depends on the weather.

Remember to bundle up!

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