"Meteorologists Take A Stab At It"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, November 8, 2014

It’s over — the nice fall weather! The election and all the political ads that captured our TV viewing are also over, along with the miserable Halloween night this year. Sorry, kids.

Yes, days are turning colder, a lot colder, but with the leaves disappearing we expected that. Sad to say, we cannot count on our weather reporters to get a forecast right. I get up early when I have a long day planned. The first move is to turn on the TV and check the weather. The other day, the forecast called for windy, overcast, cooler and rainy.

OK, so when I headed out, I dressed with that guidance regarding what I could expect.

The day was very warm and dry with a clear sky and whisper of a breeze. The only sign of rain was a damp spot on the road at days end when I returned.

The forecaster had completely missed with the weathercast. Temperatures were about 15 degrees above what he had “guessed.”

A day later, the forecast called for strong winds, temperatures in the 50’s early then, cooling with a possibility of snow flurries late in the day. This time the forecaster got it a little right: it was windy all day and sunny. Therefore, temperatures shot right up into the 60’s late in the day.

Not unlike most people here in the Thumb, I have numerous weather forecast available. I kept track for a few days between the various sources and at no time were they the same. I wanted to use the one that was closest to what actually arrived as the day moved forward.

Although it’s not hard enough to figure out what channel might offer the most reliable, now they have changed the weather forecast to a streaming list of numerous forecasts.

After the lines noting temperature, wind velocity and moisture there is a name of the area those items affect. This seems a totally ridiculous presentation. Particularly when I am having my morning coffee, in the Thumb of Michigan, and the forecast streaming is for Washington D.C.

I appreciate that weather forecasting is not an exact science, in spite of what you see them use to come up with a probable consideration of what the weather might be.

A few meteorologists sometimes come close so that is why they get to use the long title before their names.

The new way of forecasting requires you either pay close attention or pick a forecast you hope may turn out right. I have a better idea: it’s an old sailor method of forecasting.

You cut a piece of hemp line about 18 inches long. Fasten one end of the line to a solid piece of rigging. Then you memorize the forecasts you see.

1. If the rope flops around — it’s breezy.

2. If the rope is wet — it’s rainy.

3. If the wet rope is stiff — it’s freezing.

4. If you can see the rope easily — it’s clear.

5. If you have restricted visibility — it’s cloudy.

6. If the rope is warm — it’s sunny.

7. If the rope is straight out — it’s a gale, hold on.

8. If the rope is just hanging down, with a gentle movement and you can see it easily, it’s a calm, clear day for smooth sailing.

And, if it’s daytime but you can’t see your rope you will know your forecasting equipment has dismantled and you will need to use a different knot to fasten a new rope.

No matter what your rope tells you, it will probably be as close as many meteorologists get it and then there is every chance the weather will change anyway.


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