photo credit: KOMUnews
O ONE CAN dispute the accuracy record of your average Weather Forecaster Person: Cloudy, with a good chance of wrong until late afternoon, when a powerful wrong brings us some much-needed wrong over the next few days.
Granted, the meteorologists' balletic hand and arm movements across the U.S. map are most impressive. Weather persons also know the names of lots of towns and mountain ranges. Yet, given that all we want is an accurate weather forecast, these auxiliary skills can go jump in a lake.
Like many of you, I used to curse meteorologists, and stick sewing needles in pincushions named "Weather Dave" and "Weather Heather." But this was just a feel-good measure, and didn't appear to improve their forecasting one bit. On to Plan B: discover what was behind the weather persons' consistent tendency to do no better than a pudgy rodent in Pennsylvania.
Thank God for the Internet. After only 10 minutes of Googling, I discovered what turned out to be the definitive research site for the psychology of the American Meteorologist:
The Europeans have their own issues, seeing how they've been known to mix forecasting with stripping on occasion. Hello, paging Doctor Freud. You can read more about them at www.ihearteuroweatherstrippers.com.
I have learned from wthctwg-ggirmotiwfafc.com that a veritable cesspool of neurosis lies underneath the ordinary, fully clothed exterior of the American weather person. Let me refer to just two papers from this informative site to illustrate.
Dr. Samuel Pinsky, Head of Psychiatrics at the Columbus School of Vague Categories, authored a revolutionary paper in 1998, stunning his colleagues with the highly revealing results of a his interviews with American weather persons. Indeed, his paper, entitled Weather Forecasters: Sunny Day or Neurotic Defense Mechanism? would have stunned the world, had the world actually read it.
Dr. Pinsky's hypothesis is that weather forecaster persons suffer under the neurotic, obsessive compulsion to get the forecast wrong as often as possible while still keeping their jobs and, in the case of t.v. weather persons, their clothing allowance. They live dangerously on the edge, making public pronouncements of general interest to everyone, thus potentially alienating large segments of the population who didn't bring their umbrellas, and now feel, as wet people, that they really should form multiple, angry mobs, who first went home and fetched their umbrellas, which will now be used as weapons in search of a weather person.
Who knew. I feel we owe Dr. Pinsky a debt of gratitude, or at least an umbrella.
Not to malign the good doctor, but another paper proves even more stunning, revolutionary, and unread: the findings recorded in 2003 by Elaine M. Fogler, M.A., Ph.D., and President of the EMF College of Elaines at Ithaca.
Dr. Fogler interviewed some fifty weather persons over a three-month period with the initial intention of discovering the source of their tendency to stop smiling before the station had actually gone to commercial (known in psychology as "The Scowling Weatherperson Tendency").
Elaine Fogler discovered, to her own amazement, that many common forecasting phrases were actually coded cries for help. She could not deny the statistical significance of a full 28 of her 50 subjects admitting that "intermittent showers" really means "I still wet the bed on occasion, but don't tell anybody."
Here are more examples of seemingly straightforward weather forecasts, followed by the most-commonly offered hidden meaning (the number of weather persons giving the decoded statement appears in parentheses):
Forecast: "It's going to be a beautiful, sunny day!"
Meaning: "I've re-entered the manic phase of my bipolar disorder!" (17)
Forecast: "There's a massive low-pressure system stalled over the nation's midsection."
Meaning: "Look at that arm movement I just did over the nation's midsection! Who does the best arm movements in the business?? Kiss my ass, Jim Cantore!!" (19)
Forecast: "Here in the Cascades, you skiers in Winthrop are going to love all this fresh powder."
Meaning: "I know the names of more towns and mountain ranges than anyone in the business. I'm talkin' to you, Kristina Abernathy!" (26)
Forecast: "These tightly spaced convection waves will bring us high winds for the weekend."
Meaning: "My therapist says I'm permanently lodged, as it were, in the anal stage of psychological development. She can kiss my ass." (12.5)
Forecast: "Don't look for warmer temperatures to return any time soon."
Meaning: "What is the point of marriage when it entails the creation of a mother in law?" (47)
Forecast: "You folks hunkered down for Hurricane Maude may want to play it safe and crawl into your bathtubs."
Meaning: "I've re-entered the depressive phase of my bipolar disorder." (17)
Conclusion: Keep that coin handy for flipping.
© 2005 Kate Heidel