Wire The Weatherman

I understand that it's hard to predict the weather in the Willamette Valley. We're in a weird zone separating different climates. All the wind has to do is change direction, and all bets are off as to what a day in Portland will be like.

It wasn't that way when I lived in Texas. The weather there was so predictable that one of the TV news stations featured a three degree guarantee. If the weatherman predicted a temperature that was off by more than three degrees, the tenth caller would win cash based on how far off the weatherman was. If he was off by four degrees, that's four hundred bucks in your pocket. Five degrees? It's an easy $500. You get the idea.

During the Texas summers it made no sense to have a weatherman at all. "If you liked today then you'll like tomorrow..." ...and the day after that, and the day after that...

"Sunny today, high around 98 degrees, warm tonight with a low of 82." That's your summer forecast. Swap out 'sunny' with 'clear', swap out 'warm' with... well... 'clear'.

Republicans are the only reason weathermen in Texas aren't laid off for the summer. Thanks to environmental policies there, the air is so piss poor that they issue Ozone Alert days at least twice a week.

Ozone Alert days are great. No, really. "Any breathing you'd like to do today...? Well, it's best to get that out of the way by 9am, ten at the latest. After that, we recommend you stay indoors and only breathe air that hasn't seen the light of day since last March." Told you Ozone Alerts were great.

I know it's different here in Oregon. Forecasting weather is far more complex. We've got the coast to the west with it's crazy Pacific weather systems rolling in. We've got whatever the hell eastern Oregon is with its own dry dusty hot windy weather patterns. Meanwhile, we sit in a lush north-south valley with mountain chains on either side that serve as weather-walls one day and a funnel the next.

It's challenging. I get it. But that doesn't mean I deserve a less than accurate forecast simply because it takes more work and insight to produce one.

And that's when it hit me: TV news stations here have no reason to care about accuracy at all. So what if the guy on KATU will be off by five degrees? The guy on KOIN might be off by six, the guy on KGW could be off by ten or more, and Fox is like weather lotto.

It's not just the temperatures they're wrong about here... Our Warm sunny Sunday was forecast to be cold and cloudy. Not. Even. Close. Dammit.

The issue is one of accountability. I'd love to see a three degree guarantee here, but that's not feasible as it would bankrupt any station that tried it.

But maybe there's another way... and of course, I have an idea.

It's time to... "Wire The Weatherman!"

Remember the little clicker a weatherman would hold to change maps and such? Do they still use those? Well - if not - bring 'em back because that clicker is an important part of my plan.

I'd like to see that clicker wired to a phone and an electrical amp.

If the weatherman was off by more than a few degrees - let's say three - they open the phones and take the tenth caller. The tenth caller gets to use the phone keypad to decide, on a scale of 0 to 9, how much juice to send straight into the weatherman's clicker.

"We've got Jane from Gresham on the line... Well Jane, what's the verdict?"
"Oowooowoah... That's an 8 if ever I felt one. Thanks Jane..."

And, as our weatherman picks his sorry ass up off the floor, we get the feeling tomorrow's forecast will be a little better.

::::: | Tuesday, Oct 12 2004 at 12:58 PM
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Jos* said:

Well, TX is a Right to Work State. So Weathermen have the right to work too. Nice new design! Mine is sooo hungry for a new design!

::::: | October 12, 2004 5:30 PM

(won't be published)


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