Today I am writing about my hands-down favorite weather site on the internet. I feel guilty about this subject, as if it is somehow taboo to be calling this a blessing, but it is my blog and this is what I feel like writing about. Weather Underground (wunderground.com) is a site that compiles National Weather Service information in very useful ways. The user may customize the site to show favorite locations and choose the maps and information that appear. I like the hourly information which shows temperatures, conditions, wind speed and direction, likelihood of precipitation, and percent cloud cover expected throughout the day. I like the animated maps like the ones seen on television. But my favorite of all is the "scientific forecaster discussion".
I know I am a hopeless science geek. Perhaps not everyone would enjoy the few paragraphs written by the actual forecasters, reporting, not to the public, but to their colleagues. The discussions require some guesswork to follow because they include discussions of the often-differing outcomes of several computer models used in forecasting. They also use jargon. For instance, a Mr. or Ms. Dalton reported at 2:40 today that "cirrus shield from approaching front has now spread over most of the area this afternoon". Cirrus shield is a such a nice term for the way the high clouds advance across the sky. After talking about winds at the coast, Dalton goes on into a friendly and idiomatic discussion of factors influencing the amount of snow to forecast for the mountains overnight.
When I read the thoughts of an intelligent professional reconciling the output of different computer models, it makes me more tolerant of the uncertainty of forecasting. I have never been one of the "they are always wrong" school, nor the "why don't they look outside" folks. Will it be 31 degrees or 34 degrees when that band of rainclouds arrives? How quickly will that circling mass of air the size of the Gulf of Alaska move? They cannot tell you exactly and it is always a judgment call for them to issue a storm warning or predict ice - lots of people will be annoyed if it doesn't happen, but lots more will be upset if they don't say it is coming.
I guess today's blog is really a fan letter to meteorologists. Earth's weather is a marvel and I appreciate their efforts to understand it.