Weather Or Not

I woke up on Thursday morning, looked out my window, and was immediately outraged. “Nobody said it was going to snow!” I yelled. “Where the hell did all the snow come from?!” And my overreaction reminded me, yet again, that weather is arbitrary and weird and, despite the best efforts of every weather person out there, you never know what’s going to happen. For example:

A few years ago, Kate and I were driving back from town and the sky was really dark. Sure enough, the heavens opened up, and the resulting downpour turned roads in rivers, and parking lots into lakes. Literally. People had their basements flooded, and cars were floating in the streets. It didn’t last long, and the flooding was mostly due to backed-up storm drains, but on the news that night, the weather reporters were thrilled, having earlier predicted that a very large storm system might wreak havoc in our part of Ontario. Why “thrilled”, you ask? Because the week before, tornadoes had touched down in cities south of here and there had been NO WARNING from the weather people (we call them “Environment Canada”). In fact, the outcry was ridiculous, with people calling for an investigation into the most “egregious failure” of the year.

The weather people defended themselves by claiming that 90% of our weather comes from over the border, and that Michigan hadn’t alerted us to any impending storm systems, that it had just “popped up out of nowhere”. Sure, blame the Americans. But frankly, the whole thing is silly, and is yet more proof that we’ve become irrationally obsessed with weather. The mere fact that there is an entire segment devoted to the weather on every single news show is evidence of that. And the first part of the segment is invariably reporting on what the weather was like THAT DAY. I don’t need to know what the weather was ALREADY like—I WAS THERE. Then we move to “the current forecast”, which I ALSO know, because I’m looking out MY WINDOW. Finally, we get to “tomorrow” and the long-range forecast. But for all the technology, the radar, the system trackers, the low and high front graphics on the weather screen, being a weather person in Canada is a relatively simple task and these people are way overpaid, because, let’s face it—there’s not a lot of variation in the weather here:

News Anchor: So Bob, what’s the situation with the weather?
Weather Guy: Well, today it was f*cking cold. Tomorrow, it will also be f*cking cold.
News Anchor: You’re sure right there! What about the long range forecast?
Weather Guy: In a couple of months, it will be f*cking hot, with an increased chance of it getting even more f*cking hot.
News Anchor: Do your magic-y weather skills predict anything else for the near future, Bob?
Weather Guy: The only other thing on the horizon is periods of “when the hell is it going to rain?” interspersed with “when is this goddamned rain going to stop?” That’s about it, Nancy.
News Anchor: Thanks for those insights, Bob. We’ll get back to you later for a recap.

I honestly think we expect too much from weather reporters. Blaming them for sudden weather events is like blaming the sportscaster when your favourite team unexpectedly loses. You’d never do that—it would be irrational to call the Toronto Maple Leafs losing yet another Stanley Cup the most egregious failure of TSN Sportsdesk ever. Yet weather reporters get blamed for all kinds of things. For instance, you’re having an outdoor birthday party and it clouds over then starts raining. Suddenly it’s open season on the weather reporter, with people running around trying to get the cake inside before it gets ruined, and yelling, “Was this predicted?! I don’t remember Bob saying anything about rain! Now the f*cking piñata is all mushy! What the hell is this world coming to when you can’t even count on Bob for a good party?!!”

But you CAN’T count on the weather report. Weather reports are just filler in a broadcast, the same way that talking about the weather is just filler in a conversation. Consider how many times in your life you’ve had random and inconsequential conversations about the weather because you felt like you had to talk about SOMETHING or be seen as anti-social? This happens to me all the time in the elevator at work, when someone I barely know gets on. After “Hello”, what the hell else is there to say, except “Can you believe the weather?” And the other person will say, “Oh, I know. It’s just terrible/gorgeous out there.” The weather is safe and quick and makes us all feel that we’re capable of normal human interaction.

Again, though, I don’t think we need an entire network devoted to the continual reporting of the weather. An entire network, you say? Yes, because not only is every single news broadcast littered with weather clickbait (“Coming up next: Sharon will have some exciting information on the current state of the weather. Find out here first!”), we also have The Weather Network, where you can satisfy your need to know about the state of the environmental nation 24 hours a day. Local forecasts, regional forecasts, national forecasts—hell, you can even find out what it’s going to be like in Madrid tomorrow using an app on your phone (for the record—14 degrees and mostly sunny). My favourite, though, has got to be when, for want of anything else to talk about, there’s a “50 years ago today” segment, where the weather from the 70s is compared to the forecast today, and the reporter is like, “Can you believe it? The high on January 15, 1970 was 3 degrees lower than it is today. What a world we live in!”

A hundred years ago, there were no weather reporters. There was just your crazy old aunt, who claimed her gouty toe could predict when a storm was a-coming, or the one guy in every town who hung out at the General Store chewing on a hay stalk and muttering ominously, “Pine trees are puttin’ out cones early. Gonna be a hard winter.” And they were about as accurate as weather reporters today, who, despite all the bells and whistles, still can’t always predict when a tornado will develop. I like the guy they interviewed after that tornado who said that he hadn’t heard about it, but he looked out his window, saw it coming from across the field, and got his family into the basement. Then he went back upstairs and recorded the tornado with his cell phone. He predicted a tornado almost hitting his house better than Environment Canada did—The Weather Network should hire HIM.

65 thoughts on “Weather Or Not

  1. Guess what I majored in in college? Not that I’m putting it to any use, but I’ve always been a weather person and am amazed at how ignorant people can be about how weather (and particularly these days, CLIMATE) works. Snows are impossible to accurately predict because a few miles (or kilometers, in your case) can be the difference between a dusting and getting buried. Same goes with flooding rain, since the flooding happens in narrow bands just like heavy snows do. And tornadoes…. yeah, good luck. You might get a few minutes of warning, but that’s it. Oh, you hit on so many of my weather peeves in this post. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I don’t know why one) anyone would blame the Americans for not letting Canada know it’s going to rain and, two) the weather here (1600) miles from the Canadian border, the weather peeps seem to predict the weather pretty spot on, and three) I love your obsessive, yet comedic explanations about EVERYTHING!! Hilarious as always, oh and sorry about the crappy weather up there. ⛱⛱🏔⛈⛈💦☔️☔️

    Liked by 4 people

  3. British weather is so unpredictable that the Met Office bought supercomputers to help get some decent forecasting. We’ve got the jetstream doing most of the work as it decides how much of the Atlantic to drop on us, the Arctic which throws cold air at us, continental weather from the east and the occasional sand-based blast from the Sahara.
    Over the course of a year we don’t have much variety, but weekly, daily & hourly variations are our weather bread and butter. If they say it’ll rain by 1pm despite the sunny skies at breakfast it’s quite likely it will rain during lunch.
    Much more accurate than back in 1987 when weatherman Michael Fish actually said on a broadcast “a lady has been in touch to ask about the hurricane and we can assure you that it’s nothing to worry about”. The next morning most of the trees in the south east were flattened. It is now an infamous bit of UK forecasting history.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Fool’s Spring. It’s always Fool’s Spring, remember? I’m currently moping about having to switch back to Daylight Savings Time after what I think was less than 4 months of “standard time”. First of all, if it only applies to 1/3 of the year, it’s the antithesis of “standard” — it’s non-standard time. Regardless, I’m a big fan of non-standard time because when it gets dark early, the old man schedule I keep doesn’t seem nearly as pathetic. Do you engage in this time nonsense up there, too, or is this yet another thing where Canadians prove their superior collective intellect?

    Liked by 2 people

    • No we have it here too unfortunately. I woke up this morning irrationally angry at the clock. I hate the time change—our Yukon Territory just refused to change the time and I said to Ken “We’re moving there!!” until I remembered how terrible the weather is there🤣🤣

      Liked by 1 person

  5. But, the weather report should be getting better. Humanity has hundreds of supercomputers set to the task of modeling and measuring climate, weather’s big brother, and into those models, weather gets dribbled in. Eventually, given up to the second Doppler & air patterns & humidity & everything else measurable we should get perfect weather reports.

    Here’s a cool real-time representation of the Earth and all it’s meteorological wonder:
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/surface/level/orthographic=-77.40,43.23,3000/loc=-79.397,43.773

    You can zoom out, reset the metrics to show moisture, air pressure, at various altitudes (pascals). Pretty cool nullschool.

    With all those massive bodies of water around, the modeling becomes much more complex.
    “Sunrise at… Hell, we don’t know. This is Toronto, it might never rise again.”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I read a report once, and just looked it up again, that stated that 5-day weather forecasts are accurate 90% of the time! NINETY PERCENT! At 7 days it drops to 80%. At 10 days, 50%. But, still, we pay millions of dollars for athletes to swing and hit a hurling baseball only 30% of the time, so weather folks might be UNDERPAID!

    Think about it. Is anyone else you know right 90% of the time? Besides Titus?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So how did you know I have Madrid on my phone’s weather app? Also London, Columbo, Kuala Lumpur, Kampala, Montevideo, and a few other towns although, for some reason, none in Canada. Maybe that’s because most of the weather where I am tends to go West to East, and I’m far enough to the South that any weather that crosses the border isn’t likely to come from Kentucky. Although I did go to university in Indiana and people there told me they remembered when David Letterman was a local weatherman, and he would sometimes say, “And now for the local weather…go look out your window!”
    Also the saying in Indiana was that if you didn’t like the weather you should stick around for about ten minutes because it would change. I’ve since learned that saying is as ubiquitous as, well, the weather.
    Now maybe I should go add St. John’s to my phone app. Just in case.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great minds think alike—I love Madrid😊I also have Portmadog in Wales on my app because we were there once and it makes me happy to remember it😊You should have Toronto on your phone just so you can be like “Poor mydangblog—how angry she must be at all the snow today”!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I always felt like the weather people here had a super cushy gig. Today, sunny, tomorrow sunny….it’s pretty much sunny most of the time. But when it does rain, when a few sprinkles fall from the sky, it becomes “Storm Watch”. It’s crazy!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Love the TV presenters’ dialogue. Good match for any sports postmortem. Mark Twain wasn’t the source of that other oft-quoted dictum on the need for somebody to do something about the weather, but he did say this:

    ‘Cold! If the thermometer had been an inch longer we’d all have frozen to death.’ Mark Twain

    Liked by 2 people

  10. We used to live across the street from a really old man who could tell what kind of weather was coming by looking at the clouds and observing the wind. I know it sounds obvious, but he seemed like a magician to me because he was never wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. They really shouldn’t expect much help from Michigan. Our news/weather goes something like this – “Now here’s Ben with the weather”. Ben tells you what it is like right now and what you can expect for the next few hours then says “I’ll be back in 10 minutes with the full forecast”. So now you have to sit through all the commercials and BS if you want to know what to expect tomorrow. If we have a storm coming they have begun sharing the different options. “The U.S. model says the storm will track this way and we will get walloped but the European model says it will go this way and we will be fine.” I have actually heard them say – “we really don’t know what to expect”. (I’m not sure why I still waste time listening).

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I know I don’t say it enough, but your posts always make me smile. You know, whenever someone starts talking to me about the weather, I immediately think, “this person does not want to talk to me.” But that’s okay. Chances are I don’t want to talk to them either. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I have tried this and it always works. You can use a weather-joke to make a semi-stranger laugh. Suppose it is raining and windy outside and you declare with a serious face what a beautiful weather, ideal for a picnic. The person will seem puzzled for one second and then will laugh….always. I know it sounds not so funny and even stupid perhaps, but I always find people respond with humor!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Us Brits love having a good old chat about the weather! Largely thanks to most local news sources claiming every single week for one half of the year that we’re going to get 6 inches of snow overnight, and the other half of the year that we’re going to get crazy heatwaves. Most of the time…neither is true!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. And what’s with “celebrity” weather persons? Don’t get me started on Jim Cantore on the Weather Channel. He always tries to be at ground zero when a hurricane is predicted to strike land and boy does he get pissy when it doesn’t hit where they predicted. Can’t stand the guy!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. To be fair, the weather in Canada changes more than most. In L.A. it’s sunny and warm nearly every single day but at least we have 4 seasons. I come from a long line of farmers for whom the weather was extremely important. I think it’s just human nature to worry about things we can’t control.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Weather is a funny thing – you’re right you can’t just blame them. With your long range weather forecast I think you should be doing it it’s about as good as any. Apparently weather reporting is 90% inaccurate for 8 days ahead…

    Liked by 2 people

  18. It’s even weirder living in a place like Los Angeles, where the weather is exactly, predictably the same every f*#%in’ day, and yet to watch the local meteorologists (to say nothing of the Southern California natives) obsess over minute-to-minute AccuWeather forecasting! I mean, Christ: On the twice-a-year occasion a cloud drifts overhead we start preparing for the second Genesis deluge!

    You’re 100% right, Suzanne: Weather reports are filler on broadcast same as they are in conversation. As far as I know, only Bill Murray ever previously made the weather an entertaining subject, so you’re in good comedic company!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I live near Lake Onatrio (Canadian side) and the weather can be vastly different, even in the span of a few kilometers. More than a few times, there’d be a blizzard at my house and by the time I’d arrive at work (about 20 minute drive) the skies, and the ground, would be clear.
    I’d explain to my supervisor about the blizzard and he would like at me as if I was crazy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Around here just the prospect of snow or the actuality of having snow prompts the news folks to break out hours long weather reporting specials, almost as if having snow was equivalent to having a pandemic.

    Liked by 1 person

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