Free-Range Weather

Cage-Free Weather Commentary

By Goes Viral!

Weather Channel Home PageWhile The Weather Channel is going through a nasty dispute with DirecTV (surprise! – it’s about money), its sister property has experienced a surge in traffic over the past year or so, yet it’s not because people are interested in the weather. Far from it, unless you consider click bait like “They Found WHAT Inside a Whale?” and “Captive Gator’s Horrifying Diet” somehow weather related. (The “Is There a Pandemic Brewing?” headline from the screen grab above is one of least sensational “stories” I’ve seen recently.)

After being a fan for many years, I quit watching TWC as it seemed like every time I tuned in to, you know, watch live weather coverage I was confronted with “Real Stories of Coast Guard Rescues” or other reality-type programming. (Not coincidentally, these shows are much cheaper to produce and/or buy than live studio time with meteorologists actually discussing the weather.) Weather on the web is available anytime, and on my schedule, not TWC’s.

But I digress. I have been curious about why migrated away from reporting on real weather and embraced trashy non-weather related content. Now I know, thanks to Marc Tracy’s excellent piece in The New Republic. He was also interviewed on CBC’s Q; the interview starts at the three minute mark. You’ve probably guessed the reason by now: they attract more visitors and make more money with stories about gator diets than with stories about meteorology. It’s interesting reading/listening for weather fans.


Great Quotes About the Weather

The weather is always fun to talk/whine/muse about, especially when creative types are the ones doing the talking/whining/musing. Here are a few of my favorites, courtesy of goodreads. Enjoy


“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.”

― Carl Reiner

“But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes, without our having the misery of
knowing about it beforehand.”
― Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men in a Boat

“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the
opportunity to rain on a tent.”
― Dave Barry

“Pray don’t talk to me about the weather, Mr. Worthing. Whenever people talk to me about the weather, I always
feel quite certain that they mean something else. And that makes me quite nervous.”
― Oscar Wilde

“It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in memory than in life.”
― P.D. James, A Taste for Death

“Don’t knock the weather. If it didn’t change once in a while, nine out of ten people couldn’t start a
― Kim Hubbard

“There is no way that we can predict the weather six months ahead beyond giving the seasonal average”
― Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes

“It was raining in the small, mountainous country of Llamedos. It was always raining in Llamedos. Rain was the
country’s main export. It had rain mines.”
― Terry Pratchett, Soul Music

“After three days men grow weary, of a wench, a guest, and weather rainy.”
― Benjamin Franklin

“The weather and my mood have little connection. I have my foggy and my fine days within me; my prosperity or
misfortune has little to do with the matter.”
― Blaise Pascal

“The rain thundered down so heavily that Pritam could imagine that space itself was made of water and was
pouring through rents in the sky’s tired fabric.”
― Stephen M. Irwin, The Dead Path

And finally…
“Weather is a purely personal matter. There is no such thing as a climate that is cold or hot, good or bad,
healthy or unhealthy. People take it upon themselves to create a fantasy in their imagination and call it
weather. There’s only one climate in the world, but the message that nature sends is interpreted according to
strictly personal, non-transferable rules.”
― Álvaro Mutis, The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll


Intensity of Hurricanes Should Increase with Global Warming

Screen Grab from NY Times Hurricane Video :: NY Times

Screen Grab from NY Times Hurricane Video :: NY Times

I just got around to watching this New York Times video on how climate change will effect the intensity of hurricanes. It was published shortly after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines, killing thousands and laying waste to the city of Tacloban. While the graphics are pretty rudimentary, the reporting is outstanding, clearly telling the story about why hurricanes should become more intense the warmer the planet becomes.

The report says that while it’s impossible to say that climate change made Haiyan more intense than it “should” have been, the overheated climate will produce warmer water and higher sea levels, providing the ingredients to make future hurricanes more fierce (and destructive if they strike land). The video is well worth two minutes of your time.


Let it Snow – But Don’t Cancel the Game

Screen Capture of the Snow Bowl :: Courtesy Deadspin

Screen Capture of the Snow Bowl :: Courtesy Deadspin

“Dad, have they ever canceled a game due to snow?” my son Max asked as we watched part of the Detroit Lions-Philadelphia Eagles game on Sunday. The snow was piled 8″ deep on the field and the grounds crew used leaf blowers to keep the yard lines and hash marks clear. It was quite a sight!

There were several NFL games affected (afflicted?) by snow last weekend, the most notorious being the game in Philly, which the Eagles won, 34-20. And that brings us back to Max’s question.

The NFL does not like to cancel or even postpone games. It has a 16 game schedule and the games would be hard to make up as teams typically get seven days off between games. And the TV networks would need to air a potentially meaningless game on, let’s say, a Tuesday, messing up their carefully crafted prime-time schedules.

A quick search shows that the league hasn’t cancelled a regular season game due to snow on the field in the “modern era” of pro football (since 1933). The NFL did cancel a game in 2010 due to a “snow emergency” in Philly. The league said that the stadium would have been ready but it would have been too difficult for the fans to get to the game.

Let’s see, the Super Bowl is in New Jersey on February 2. I’m rooting for snow.


First of the Season Tiny Little Snowflakes

Snow on Tree

(We didn’t get this much!)

They’re so tiny that I have to squint to see them and it’s doubtful that they’ll amount to even a trace, but the season’s first snowflakes are indeed flying today. Flying may be a stretch, as they are wafting lazily down before hitting the ground and vanishing, becoming indistinguishable from the bit of rain we had yesterday.

Are they a harbinger of an early winter? A look at the Climate Prediction Center’s 6-10 and 8-14 day forecasts show that the computer models believe the Northwest is in for a cold first couple of weeks of November. I’m not ready for the weather to close in just yet, but Mother Nature didn’t consult me.