Fire the Weatherman (or Woman)

There are two Podunk Pundit laws regarding weather and its forecasting. First and most important, tomorrow’s weather will be pretty much like today’s weather, until it isn’t. I think Ben Franklin said that. And second, whatever the TV weatherperson says will probably be wrong and when it isn’t will be wildly exaggerated.

Here in the border South the weather is general warm and not so humid followed by really warm and really humid. In the winter it is colder for awhile and the rain is too. Thus to the TV Weather scolds the rare flake of snow, maybe three days a year, becomes the great Klondike blizzard of Ought Three.

Drivers unaccustomed to the stuff go mad with fear and do the opposite of what any rational person would do in the face of slick roads. They drive at breakneck speed to get the last milk and bread in the world before being snowbound for weeks, which has never ever happened. What does happen is their careening into other crazed lemmings sent on the same fool’s errand by the weather ghouls.

In warmer weather you still aren’t safe. Rainstorms spawned by hurricanes 1000 miles out to sea become, in the fevered imaginings of the weatherpersons, the hurricanes themselves. Therefore they advise everyone to lock themselves in the basement, lie in the bathtub or hurry to the fallout shelter: “But keep your dial on WHOA! Paranoid TV for live updates every ten minutes.”

The sexist nature of the meteorological racket is worth pointing out at this juncture. On normal days a weather female clearly hired to lure eyeballs, male eyeballs, gestures fetchingly at the Doppler. Men quizzed by their wives, who were out of the room, as to the forecast have no idea weather was even being discussed though they have been staring intently at the screen.

But in times of actual bad weather five or six counties away, the eye candy is yanked from the line-up and the chief meteorologist is handed the ball, like Mariano Rivera coming in to make the save. Sometimes he is permitted to preempt all other programming, often for the entire evening, in order to stand in front of the Doppler Radar in his bad hair and polyester suit spreading panic.

Clearly the Doppler is one of the worst inventions in history since it endows these guys with a weird hypnotic power over program directors who let them hog the airways. And soon the filibuster is in full swing.” Don’t touch your dial. Your life may be at stake. See those bands of red? That’s blood. The white means hypothermia and death. Repent! The end is at hand!”

Sometimes electric power is lost, but it is often due to a terrified TV weather viewer fleeing into the night and crashing into a power pole. Sometimes high winds actually knock down trees and a trailer park three counties away permitting the scaremonger-in-chief to show on the Doppler that the engulfing blob of certain destruction is heading our way. A lot of this amped up coverage is owed to the fact that three or four local stations are competing for eyeballs and try to outdo each other in turning every light drizzle into a Flood of Biblical proportions.

The most absurd aspect of the entire weather game is the notion that these guys are indispensable when in fact they are as obsolete as the ice man. Yet the local augur teases us with partial forecasts. At 8 in the morning we learn that it will be 40 degrees and cloudy by noon, but tune in then to find out what the weather will be by 4 in the afternoon. Then tune in at six to find out the forecast for 10 and at 11 to find out what the morrow will bring. He couldn’t possibly tell you the whole forecast now in one big gulp. He wants you on tenterhooks.

Really? Are there actual viewers with no access to, say, the weather channel or the internet or a window? If all else fails they can always turn off the tube, get on with life and fall back on Rule Number One: This afternoon will be pretty much like this morning, unless it isn’t.

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