Friday, April 9, 2010

They're Supposed to Get It Wrong

It's a tenet held dearly by all US citizens that weather forecasters are akin to tribal shamans, using a set of mystical incantations to arrive at some announcement of what the weather will be, announcements that will inevitably turn out to be wrong. People routinely check the forecasts and also routinely ignore what they predict because they are going to be wrong. Like other pieces of folk wisdom, the one about the forecasters is what is turning out to be wrong, and the forecasts themselves have been spot on.

In one short three-week period we have gone through three years' worth of seasonal cycles, having experienced fall, winter, spring and summer in swift succession. People who ran to get air conditioners on and blasting on Wednesday and Thursday awoke with their teeth chattering this morning as temperatures plummeted downwards and rainstorms pelted our already over-saturated ground. Women, who on Wednesday, in record breaking heat, discussed summer Shabbos menus, are running for their cholent pots this morning.

And it's not just New York. During the last days of Pesach Southern California near the border with Mexico got hit with an earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale. This weekend a storm coming down out of Alaska is going to drench California. One of my students left Denver Wednesday morning with snow falling steadily. By the time he arrived in NY the weather in Denver had gone up to the 60s.

Though it goes against the grain for many of us, we're starting to look at those weather forecasters with a bit more respect. Hard to admit it but their crazy predictions of highly fluctuating weather have been right. The way things have been going weather-wise it wouldn't surprise me in the least to wake up next week and see flakes of snow falling outside the window.

But the crazy weather patterns have also brought to mind the following: "Man tracht undt Gott lacht"--man tries and God laughs. We humans have the fallible idea that we are in charge of the world and that what we say goes. And then something as "simple" as the weather shows us that we are far from in charge of the world. If God, and the nature he created, want it to be 92 on April 7 and 51 on April 9 then that is what it is going to be. I was going to switch all the cold weather and hot weather clothing in the closets today. Thank you God for taking that chore off the list.


tesyaa said...

Their computer models are much more detailed and sophisticated than those of 25-30 years ago. I've also been noticing that they get it right virtually every time.

Trudy said...

The weather used to be a safe topic to talk about with people. Not anymore. Seems like the weather gets people more riled up than the politicians ever did.