Some weeks ago, I placed Andy Rooney’s name in nomination for the man with the Easiest Job in the World. Today, I offer the second in this could-turn-into-a-series piece, nominating Weather “Forecasters” as the category of people with the second Easiest Job In The World. It seems so self-evident, but on the outside chance that not every other person on the planet sees the ‘obvious’ precisely as I do, the reason for this particularly undignified nomination is as follows:
No matter what TV channel you watch or radio station you listen to; No matter what newspaper or on line source you look to for weather forecasting, remember this. They all get their information from the self-same place. The United States Weather Service. Each forecaster (sorry folks, I suppose that would be Meteorologist – at least for the several of them who have college degrees in this high-tech guesswork) reviews the data from the Weather Service (or their editors and writers do it for them) and presents their understanding of it – adding only thier own unique voices, appearances and personalities. The forecast is the forecast. Often, the ten seconds worth of information you are hoping to garner from it – something really simple like “Is it likely to rain tomorrow?” is buried in ten minutes of useless information about things you don’t care about. When they finally get to the punchline, if you scan the channels, you will find they have all come to the very same one. Why? They are simply guessing based on the most recent information and “Official Government” forecast issued by the U.S. Weather Service.
There is a great deal of technology involved in prognostic meteorology. Computers, satellites and three dimensional animations. However, the advances in technology do not seem to have done much to improve the ‘batting’ average of forecasters. They are approximately right about half the time and obviously wrong about the other half. One of the funniest examples of this is the radio weather person, broadcasting from a small booth with no windows and announcing that it will be sunny and warm today, while it is pouring cats and dogs outside the studio. Real perception of what’s going on has nothing to do with the ‘forecast.’ It would be just that – laughable – were it not for the fact that some of these bad-mediocre guessers get paid a great deal of money for doing what they do. And even much of the ‘guessing’ is by unchanging rote and consistent script from the Weather Service. For example, for about four-five months a year, the daily weather forecast, whoever or wherever you hear it from, for the San Francisco Bay Area is, exactly verbatim, “… and coastal fog extending inland night and morning hours: Otherwise, clear with temperatures in the mid-high 60’s along the coast, a comfortable 70’s by the Bay and reaching up into the low-mid 90’s in the warmest inland valleys.” It’s a joke to everyone, except maybe the ‘forecaster’ who is getting paid (and paid well) to repeat this unchanging seasonal line.
I believe that an average person with no access to anything more technical than a window and his/her own skin, would be right about the weather around half the time!
Therefore, my nomination to Weather Forecasters : The people with the second Easiest Job in the world.