by | Nov 21, 2008 | Detroit Free Press | 0 comments

Today we will deal with the very important subject of forecasting the weather, which began, of course, in prehistoric days, when groups of cavemen sat in a circle, looking at the sky, until one of them finally stood up and clubbed his wife over the head. Then they all went home.

You have to admire that kind of thinking. The caveman knew he had absolutely no control over the weather, so why bother?

Modern man is not so smart. Modern man wants Information. Especially Weather Information. How else do we explain the local TV news?

Be honest. Isn’t this all you need from a weather report?

ANCHORMAN: How does it look, Bill?

WEATHERMAN: Well, Chuck, it will rain tonight and snow tomorrow.

ANCHORMAN: Thanks, Bill.

Takes 10 seconds, right? Instead, we get:

ANCHORMAN: War has broken out in Tanzania! But first, the weather.

WEATHERMAN: Thank you, Chuck. As you can see on the giant electronic screen behind me, we have a dense mixture of nimbus precipitus . . . satellite photos indicate . . . here you see the high-pressure mass . . . now checking the 17-day forecast chart . . . you are getting sleepy, sleepy . . . storm system in Bogota . . . send all your money to this station . . . showers likely . . . when you awake you will remember nothing . . . four to six inches. Well. Back to you, Chuck.

ANCHORMAN: The war is over! Fun for Floridians

Now, normally, TV uses time very carefully, devoting large segments only to Big News, such as a Special Report on baked potatoes. Yet, in a 22-minute news show, local stations give up to four minutes to weather. Unless the station is in Florida, where weather gets 21 minutes, 57 seconds, and the rest goes to the Miami Dolphins’ score.

People in Florida love weather reports. They want the temperature from every city in America, so they can laugh at their stupid, freezing grandchildren who never visit them. Ha. Ha-ha. HAHAHAHAHA! And then a hurricane blows the roofs off their houses.

It was probably in Florida that I first realized 1) weathermen are not speaking English and 2) they use a lot of hair spray. Also, they have more maps than AAA.

But don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a typical 6 o’clock news weather forecast. First the weatherperson, or meteorologist — a Latin word meaning
“Man who never goes outside” — gives a few opening remarks. They last several minutes and can be summed up this way: “Boy, he uses a lot of hair spray.”

Look! Here comes the Satellite Map! This is an outline of the U.S. underneath a white mess that looks like spilled milk. We are told the white is

clouds. Why do we care about clouds? Are we planning to fly an F-15 tonight?

Oops. No time for that. Here comes the High And Low Pressure Map. This is an outline of the U.S., with a lot of lines and arrows and H’s and L’s, none of which make any sense, even to a calculus major.

Wait. Zap! There goes that map. And here comes the Statewide Temperature Map. This shows the temperature in Detroit is 32, but in Grand Rapids it’s a chilly 31. Dress warmly if you plan to travel.

Zap. Now comes the Colorforms Map. You remember Colorforms, right? Those little rubber cutouts you used to stick on a board, until your kid brother put them in his mouth? Surprise. Your kid brother has grown up to be . . . a weatherman! And here are those little raindrops and lightning bolts he swallowed, all over the screen–

What’s that? Is it snowing outside?

Why are you asking the TV?

Don’t you have a window? Weathermen’s humor

A word here about the famous Barometric Pressure. It doesn’t exist. It’s a private joke between weathermen. And you fell for it! Ha! Don’t you feel stupid?

Wait. Let’s talk Wind Chill. This kills me. Can you imagine explaining Wind Chill to a caveman?

“You see, Grog, it’s actually 10 degrees outside, but it feels like it’s 20 below because of the Wind Chill. Get it? Of course, we’re not sure what 20 below really feels like, because last time it was 20 below, the Wind Chill made it feel like it was 50 below. We think. Although if any of us had ever been outside when it was 50 below, we’d be dead right now. So it’s hard to say. But, that’s why, you see, the Wind Chill tells us, that is, well–

And Grog clubs you over the head.

Personally, I would like to see weatherpeople broadcast live from outdoors. Then all they’d have to do is look around and say “It’s s-s-s-snowing. Back to you, Chuck.’

This would save 3 minutes, 55 seconds, which we could use toward the most important part of the nightly news.

Sports bloopers.


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Mitch Albom writes about running an orphanage in impoverished Port-au-Prince, Haiti, his kids, their hardships, laughs and challenges, and the life lessons he’s learned there every day.

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