Weather Graphics Exaggerated

Today on my local weather site, they prominently display a graphic of a lightning bolt and rain for this evening. But under that graphic in small print it reads: “30% chance of scattered showers and storms.” What?! 30%? That practically means there is hardly any chance of that happening. Just put up a picture of a sun or a moon and stop the exaggerations already. Seriously, no graphic should reflect adverse weather unless the actual possibly is at least greater than 50%.

The Severity of Severe

The word “severe” has become completely overused. Situations that are labeled as severe are often hardly that. This is mostly true for describing weather conditions, but it is overused elsewhere as well.

Over the weekend, the local weather dipped below freezing. The overnight low was predicted to be 29 or 30 degrees. When I glanced at the weather forecast on my phone, I was prompted with a red “severe alert” icon. The alert turned out to be a mere frost advisory. Seriously, is a frost advisory actually severe? I think not.

The same is true for drought conditions. Over the summer, I’d often hear news reports that parts of the state were in moderate to severe drought. It was reported that the western part of the state was currently in a severe drought. I seriously doubt it. In my mind, a drought so bad as to be labeled severe means that all trees have died away and the dirt has dried to a bleak desert sand.

Also over the summer, I’d frequently see ozone and air quality alerts mixed in with the weather conditions. The ozone alerts, however insignificant to the average person, were most always labeled as being severe. If conditions outdoors were severe on a daily basis, the population would have long since withered away.

Almost nothing is truly severe. I’ve had enough of this. When something truly severe does come along, I don’t know how it will be described. I suppose the verbiage could jump to “extreme” but that word is just as overused and nearly equally as meaningless.

Weather Underground

My favorite online resource for weather is Weather Underground. It is packed full of information, and displays weather stats from thousands of spots in the country. They have a terrific tropical storm section, too. When a hurricane forms, every last detail about the storm is on Weather Underground.

The site is indeed a little cluttered with all of the ads and tables of information, but you can access so many resources that you can become your own expert. The site offers up code that you can include on your own website to display the weather stats. During my last visit, I found they have integrated the local temperature and reading stations with Google Maps. See the screenshot, below. I think it is so awesome.

Weather Underground Google Maps Mesh

Weathering the Weather

Have you ever noticed how obsessed the general public is with the weather and the forecast? They are. It is the hottest topic in life and the de facto fallback in any slow conversation. It is all people at my work talk about, and that’s every day. “The weather man said it might rain on Friday,” one says, on a Tuesday morning. What difference does it make! It will not affect our existence in any way! The only time I personally look up the weather forecast is if there is imminent snow or an approaching hurricane, neither of which hardly ever happen. Other than those two events, I could not care less.

I am very aware that there are lot of people who work outdoors, and the weather affects them greatly. But for the general mass population, it does not matter at all. It certainly shouldn’t matter to the people I work with, since we work inside. Yet my co-workers talk about the weather forecast and the temperature constantly. I want to ask: Who really cares? The only time I’ll find myself outdoors is when I am walking the few feet between my car and the building. Other than those brief moments, I have little to no contact with nature.

Almost daily, when I come back from lunch at work, someone will ask, “How’s the weather outside?”. Here’s an idea, look out the window and take a guess. Let’s see, it is December, so it must be cold. And no matter how cold or hot it is, who cares! I am not living in the jungle or something where it will matter. My car has a few useful inventions on it: wipers, a/c, and a heater. So don’t tell me it is too cold or too wet to bother going out for lunch, or leaving the house.

Shouldn’t everybody get over this cultural obsession with the weather? It is getting so old. Everybody has seen rain their entire lives. Yet they all continue to talk about it every day like it is something new. Equally as annoying is when we hear a loud and sudden crash of thunder when I’m at work. I hear gasps and oohs and ahhs all over the room. Get over it. It happens. Nobody is going to be harmed. Folks, none of this is new. It has always been, and will always be around forever.