Sunday, October 23, 2005

Local Weather Reporting Gripe

Whatever happened to the jet stream? Used to be that the position of the jet stream was a part of the regular weather forecast. You can give me a radar map, a features map and the position of the jet stream and I can predict the weather for the next couple of days at least as accurately as the weathermen do.

The jet stream acts to both divide and guide the fronts and storms that pass by. It divides warm and cold air; it propels storms from one area of the country to another. Depending on which way the jet stream jinks, you could have a warm, humid day or a cold stormy one.

So when and why did the position and activity of this engine of weather get dropped? And why do so many weather forecasters now just let the software predict the weather and they merely critique its predictions?

And while I'm at it, why do so many morning weather reports not conform to actual conditions? Especially at NewChannel 3? I can't count the number of times I've seen Todd Demers tell me that there's only a chance of rain when the radar shows a strong front bearing down. Is he a robot who can only do his prepared script, or does he just ignore reality and plow on? That's not to pick on him, but he's the worst of the bunch at it.

Wait! One more. What's with seven-day forecasts? For a brief while, the local weather reports were showing signs of scaling back to a more reasonable five-day forecast, but now everyone is telling you what the weather will be next weekend. NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THE WEATHER WILL BE THAT FAR AHEAD. And especially not with tropical storms and hurricanes. So just stop it, OK?

Ooh! Ooh! Wait, I got another. The whole "weather where you live" that wastes precious time showing the highs for a dozen or more cities in the area. The variation is only going to be a degree or two, and that's well within your prediction's margin of error anyway. Do I really care that it will be 61 in Millington and 63 in Midtown? Who can tell the difference?

How's about just a radar map, a map of current features (fronts, highs and lows, storms, isobars), a jet stream map, and maybe a prediction map you've done yourself? Just the facts, OK?

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