Hurricane Charley: Don’t Hate

There are a couple of stories on the web [Wired] [New Scientist] about how Hurricane Charley’s sudden strengthening and last-minute, right-hand turn have baffled scientists.

I must confess: I have no knowledge of oceanic or atmospheric studies aside from growing up a kid with weather people as parents; my mother is a meteorologist, and my father was a skilled, if not degreed, weather forecaster. Both served in the USAF for 20+ years (I’d like to think that the armed forces prize accuracy more than your local TV personality), and both served at MacDill AFB in Tampa. For the sake of completeness, Dad was the NCOIC of Det. 32 at MacDill back when the F-16 training school was still there, and Mom–as an officer–was tasked with weather-related shit that she still can’t tell me about at various global command centers. Upshot: Mom and Dad knew their shit, and imparted as much of their knowledge about the weather to me whenever I asked… and even when I didn’t.

When I asked my Mom why she had to study fluid dynamics to become a meteorologist, she explained to me that the air above us acts just like water and other fluids. I was in the fourth grade, and had no idea about the physics of it all; but Mom explained it as best a ten-year-old could comprehend.

It really pisses me off when people bitch and moan about the accuracy (or lack) of TV weather reports and predictions. Will it rain or not? If your TV guy of choice says “maybe” and it does actually sprinkle a bit, thus ruining your insignificant afternoon plans, you’re thrown into an uncontrollable tizzy because Cole Skipper got it wrong. That guy is such an asshole! Nope… you’re just an idiot.

The prediction of weather patterns involves a body of scientific knowledge, history, modeling and simulation that’s beyond your (my) comprehension as a non-weather-related mind.

Would you hold a vulcanologist’s feet to the fire (or lava) if he failed to predict a volcanic eruption? Would you blame a seismologist for not predicting an earthquake? Probably not. That shit’s fairly sporadic, which lends itself to the absolution of blame. It doesn’t happen every day, so they get off the hook based solely upon the frequency of those occurrences.

Weather happens every day.

But if a weather guy/gal–dealing with the same information, science, history, modeling and simulation–gets it “wrong”… then fuck them. Because it inconveniences you.

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One thought on “Hurricane Charley: Don’t Hate

  1. Here’s the thing, though. The forecasters WERE NOT WRONG!! Even before Charley crossed Cuba the “Yellow Cone of Probability” clearly encompassed the Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda area. They had already sounded the evacuation alarm for the barrier islands and ALL MOBILE HOME RESIDENTS. Those people who are complaining are Feebs, plain and simple.

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