Weather you like it or not

By the

March 15, 2001

They are all over America. People such as Shane Butler in Huntsville, Bryan Busby in Kansas City, Cary Carrigan in Fairbanks, Alexandra Steele here in D.C., Pete Delkus in Cincinnati, Tracy Butler in Chicago and even Al Roker and Willard Scott are shining examples of our society’s most expendable quasi-celebrities: They are weathercasters.
I have often been frustrated by the inanity of local television news broadcasts, bemoaning the lack of actual news and screaming with frustration at those who actually claim to be informed about the goings-on in the world after staring at a half hour of local “Action” news. But my frustration with weathercasters goes to a different level: I hate weathercasters.

Some might say that this hatred is a result of my not being a complete person, it has been alleged that as I grew in my mother’s womb a small part was omitted, a small part that some refer to as a “soul,” but this is not the case. Objectively, weathercasters are completely dispensable.

Now, before I continue, any weathercaster sympathizers out there and those whose parents may be participants in the meteorological industrial machine that runs our nation should note that I have no objection to these people personally. The “function” in our society that they “perform” drives me to fits. And, though many weathercasters are meteorologists, many meteorologists are not weathercasters. Meteorologists who have avoided the bright lights of on-air personality status are genuine scientists with the betterment of scientific knowledge at heart. They do not upset me in the same way.

Weathercasters are the purveyors of silly information to silly people who really have little need for said information. Unless you are a farmer or someone who earns the majority of your income from working outdoors, the weather is of little consequence to your daily life. You should be able to look at yesterday’s weather, consider the time of year and glance briefly out of your window to figure out which clothes to wear and whether or not you will need an umbrella. If you hear thunder or see hail, maybe investigate further. When there aren’t clouds in the sky, just get dressed and go to work. People driving cars and working in office buildings have no need to look at NEXRAD, Doppler or any other sort of radar image. They should not have a nuanced understanding of microbursts, jet stream dynamics or the forces that turn a storm into a hurricane.

Let us put on our imagination caps for a few moments and pretend that we are aspiring meteorologists. If we are serious about becoming meteorologists, we have chosen to attend a university that offers an undergraduate program in meteorology, climatology or perhaps even environmental studies, so we are not going to be Georgetown students any longer. We are going to take math until we at least pass Calculus III, and then we will begin a regimen of classes such as “Continuum Mechanics in Wave Propagation,” “Paleoclimatology, Environmental Geochemistry,” “Groundwater Hydrology,” “Norwegian Cyclone Theory” and “Principles of Radiation Transfer.” After we receive our degree, we will decide to pursue graduate studies in meteorology or we will take the plunge into communications. Here is where the decision to be a person or a soulless face on a blue screen is made.

Up to this point we have all been intelligent and hard working individuals with specialized scientific knowledge. After we make this decision, we will either be hard working and intelligent scientists or we will be half of a bantering team, eating up air time on some local Fox affiliate in Moline or Cheyenne. What kind of life is that? Okay, you can remove your imagination cap.

In an ideal world, the weather report would consist of a predicted high, a predicted low and a percentage chance of rain. One map may be included, and there need not be an extended forecast until Thursday. This is not an ideal world.
Watching “Good Morning Washington” on Channel 7 while sick over Spring Break made me angry. In addition toits 16 distinct weather reports, the vast majority of the two hours of “Good Morning Washington” consisted of some vacuous blonde named Alexandra Steele?my money says that’s not her real name?talking to the other anchors about trivia, her children and her near-constant fascination with the human-interest stories of the day, as well as her 16 distinct weather reports.

These reports are the crime against humanity that weathercasters commit on a daily basis throughout the country. Unsuspecting citizens of the United States are taught to be fascinated with the chances of precipitation at all points in the future as well as projected temperatures, relative humidity figures and that ever so irrelevant statistic known as “real feel.” We feed on it. We need it. It angers me. I never again want to hear a weathercaster tell me about his children or see one grin obnoxiously while describing the possibility of future precipitation or hear one bemoan the necessity of removing green from his or her wardrobe. I never again want to hear “rain event,” nor do I want to hear the difference between partly cloudy and partly sunny. It sickens me that this is a profession.

By the way, has anyone heard whether or not we will be getting rain this weekend?

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