Weather is Not Boring
“Talking about the weather is boring.” We’ve all heard some version of this statement. Actually, weather is exciting because:
- Weather affects us all. It may be the most universal way people remain connected to nature and aware of environmental changes.
- Weather is a conversation that can unite us across party lines.
My own history with weather passion is deep. My launch as a weather geek came in the summer of 1992 when my longtime friend, Paul Treuer, and I paddled around Lake Superior (the largest lake on the planet). We listened to the weather band radio twice every morning and often again in the evening. After the first listen, we told each other what we thought we had heard. Nearly every day we had not heard exactly the same thing. We would discuss the differences in our perspectives and then listen again until we agreed and could plan our paddling day.
Our lives literally depended on these conversations. This was before cellphones or the internet or any other kind of digital reporting. Our only means of predicting the weather beyond our skill at reading clouds and seas were our little 2×4 inch battery powered weather band radios. Over and over again we had to decide whether to stay on the beach, because winds were forecast to rise, or whether to launch quickly and progress up-shore before weather forced us in our 17-foot sea kayaks to an early landing.
Continuing a pattern of weather tending
Since then, I have paid attention to the weather every day because I learned in the core of my being that the weather signals what the earth is doing and it DOES matter—usually not to my paddling day, but always to my garden, dog walk, picnic plans, driving or storm preparation.
Weather tending is very easy these days—TV maps and charts, dozens of internet apps, and weather blogs. Weather prediction has improved so much that people can even find reasonably accurate predictions for the exact hour rain will begin on a given day in their particular community! Mornings in my kitchen cooking breakfast, I combine the information from a much improved weather band radio and by also checking the National Weather Service and Weather Undergroundwebsites and reading a local weather blog.
I also contribute to daily weather data by participating in COCORAHS (Community Collaborative Rain, Hail, & Snow Network). Each morning I walk out our front door by 7:00 AM, check the 24-hour rain total to the nearest hundredth of an inch and report precipitation, temperature, cloud-cover and wind condition. The National Weather Service and numerous TV and radio weather reporters study this microclimate data to improve their local predictions. It delights me to be a part of this citizen science network, now for over twenty years.
Weather crosses party lines
On a recent winter day, I did a comparative check on the afternoon weather for Seattle and surrounding areas from stations ranging from Fox News to CNN. There was very little difference in their charts and graphs or the final weather prediction. No matter their political slant on other news, they all used the same science from the National Weather Service, local COCORAHS reports, and any number of computer modeling systems to reach the same conclusions—and we count on their accuracy.
So, let’s unite our efforts to reverse climate change
I am puzzled by political fighting around the issue of weather and climate change because the data sources agree. Temperatures have warmed significantly all across the planet the last half century. Storms are becoming more intense everywhere. Both Antarctica and the Arctic are experiencing record breaking temperatures and loss of ice. I could go on and on with details. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is probably the best site for up-to-date information on climate change reports. The IPCC assesses the state of knowledge of climate change by compiling existing research. They are non-partisan and non-policy makers.
Skewing weather data that we depend on in our daily lives to serve different political and economic agendas is not good use of science. What we do agree on is that unpredictably intense weather events are happening on the planet (talk to any Australian these past months).
Instead, let’s use weather as a way to engage ideas, energy, and scientific expertise to work together to solve the problems facing our earth. It is wasted energy to argue that global climate change is not happening. It is happening everywhere and our lives literally depend on acknowledging this fact and solving the problem!
Thank you for a fact and experience -based post! I love the photo of you and Paul. I want to get some type of weather station because we can’t get an accurate forecast for our place on the mountain. We rely on forecasts for the villages we can see but their position is completely different than ours and that affects everything. We use a radar app to see where rain is and we have another app that shows lightening but my goal is to contribute information that would assist walkers and maybe even the shepherds (although I suspect they are already the most accurate forecasters!)
Wow, Laura! Love hearing about your use of weather and the importance of micro-climates. And, yes, I suspect the shepherds have their own indigenous ways of knowing. Ann
Yes – yoorah for weather – and as a way of riding the gap – not further dividing us! My dad reported from his rain gauge very day when I was growing up.
Weather has been important through all the generations. Growing up in southern Minnesota farm country, I learned of several farmers who kept daily weather logs because they knew their livelihood depended on when and how and where to plant.
Good morning, I loved reading this last post.
One of the things I have noticed is the barometric pressure and how it impacts us, especially in our communication and the overall way we feel. When it is extremely dry and there is minimal barometric pressure people are as brittle as the wind. When pressure rises it shifts dramatically. The maritime girl that I am, I function so much better when there is moisture in the air!
So thanks, I love this last missive from you!
Barometric pressure is an important measurement for mood and activity. As a paramedic, my son assured me that on the nights of full moons and high pressure they always had a higher call volume.
I have first hand experience of how valuable your deep practice of weathering is for so many, inside and outside. Reading this, it makes me wish you’d offer an online course on the practice of weathering as you know it. I’d be all over it!
Love the photos, love you, love our beloved earth! Anne
Yes, we surely did use the weatherband forecasts on the Elder Quests. Such strong, good memories!
Ann – I just now got a chance to read this and the first thing I thought was how diligent you were during both the kayak adventures and the Quests – not sure if I ever thanked you for this specifically? I always loved listening to your daily reports and the consequences attached to the info. You taught me so much about the attention to this detail. And now, you link it to another aspect, in a clear way – climate change. I appreciate that not only do you enjoy attending to this topic for yourself but you also continue to instruct and teach your knowledge and findings. THANKS so much, Ann!
Thank you for remembering and acknowledging this, Jeanne. Weather is such a joy for me to study and share.
I wholeheartedly agree that weather is not boring! I have loved sitting in my many vision quest sites and watching the weather, day after day. It is fabulous entertainment….especially when one spends many hours alone in the wilderness.
Thank you for this interesting and informative post. I agree with Anne S. — how about a workshop in weathering? I’d love that. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to know what all those wonderful cloud formations are called, cumulous, stratus, etc.. Hugs to you!
And isn’t it just like my artist friend to see the beauty and wonder in weather and clouds! Totally agree with you.
Thank you for this post, Ann. I happen to love weather! And it scares me lately, the way the patterns are changing and becoming more often dangerous. As you know I’m reading my father’s letters from WWII, in which he was a meteorologist–by training for service, not his chosen profession. And he was a farm boy. Reading about the rudimentary knowledge available in 1943, juxtaposed with the farmers’ folk forecasting, is fascinating.
My guess is that some of the farmers’ folk forecasting had incredible basis in experience and probably often a fair amount of accuracy. It would be lovely to read a study of this sometime.