>Changing climate calls for changing how we understand the weather

January 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

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I’m obsessed with understanding the weather. For a long time, I wanted to become a weatherwoman on a local television channel, but I gave up the dream when I realized that there’s no science to the forecast. Everyday I check wunderground.com, weather.com, and my iPhone weather application. I compare each of these sites, which often vary wildly. An hour before a snowstorm, one site may claim that there is 0% chance of precipitation while another asserts a playing-it-safe 50% chance. I’ve checked the weather while it’s raining/snowing and witnessed a report of 0% chance of precipitation. How can the high temperature be lower than the actual temperature outside? What does it mean when the icon is a question mark on top of a cloud? How can it be 30 degrees outside, but feel like 11? Who determines what 11 degrees feels like? Where is the uncertainty coming from?

This meteorological chaos trickles down into many aspects of my life. How many layers do I need to wear when I leave the house? Is one pair of pants enough? Should I be slipping on my snow boots, rain boots, combat boots, Chucks?

Almost daily, I find some innocent friend or acquaintance to vent my frustrations about the inaccuracies in weather reporting. (If nobody else is around, Joe ends up hearing my rants. I just can’t let this go.) It’s a problem with an obvious solution: stop looking at the weather. Live in the moment.

Late at night, I lie in bed and report the weather to Joe. I’m thinking about creating a podcast or a video diary in which I rely on charm to win over an audience as confused as I am. There’s no harm in admitting that as weather people, we just don’t know.

“This is Gili, coming to you live from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve got good news and bad. The good news is that you’re alive and it’s a new day. The bad news is that it will most likely be cold for the next few months. Bundle up, wear your long underwear, and keep your feet warm and dry. Expect more useful tips about staying sane this winter in the coming days. As always, thanks for tuning in to my dependable forecast. This is Gili, reminding you not to pay attention to numbers, percentages, or predictions. I’ve been studying the weather for years and it’s as much a mystery to me as it is to you. You are not alone. Check back in tomorrow morning for more support from a person just like you. I make mistakes; heck, we all do. But you won’t have any phony clairvoyance from your old pal, Gili. Find yourself a fireplace, a good book, and a cup of coffee. At some point, winter will be over.”

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