Lex Erath | Sugar & Spice
Published: Monday, February 3, 2014
Updated: Monday, February 3, 2014 08:02
Imagine walking down the streets of Boston one afternoon, minding your own business, and someone runs up to you and asks you to do the daily weather for the local news station. Maybe you’re holding an iced coffee, which you drop in surprise, or perhaps you pause mid-text and look up suspiciously, trying to spot the hidden cameras for the prank this guy is trying to pull on you. But this is no joke; their weatherman has just walked off the set after throwing a massive hissy fit and is refusing to go on.
You explain that you have absolutely no experience in meteorology, but the harried producer waves you off; you’re just as qualified as the last guy, he tells you. So you shrug your shoulders and head upstairs to the studio, where you stand in front of a green screen, wave your hands around vaguely and speculate on the cold temperatures you expect Boston to see in the next few days of winter.
Sometimes I am convinced that this is how news stations choose their weathermen because, to me, there is no other explanation for how inconsistent their predictions are. To be fair, I’m sure that predicting the weather is not an easy task, even if you have years of training. It’s certainly not black-and-white, and I don’t blame the weathermen for not being able to tell me exactly how many inches of snow I should expect. I don’t mind their inability to predict precisely at what time of day the rain will begin. But what irritates me is that they pretend otherwise! Instead of admitting that the weather can be unpredictable, weathermen have developed all sorts of sneaky tricks to disguise their general cluelessness.
Trick No. 1: There is always, always, a chance of rain. You will never see zero percent on the forecast, because an ironclad promise like that generates the possibility of a prediction’s actually being wrong. Even if there’s a seven percent chance of rain, they’re right. Or, on the flip side, if there’s a 90 percent chance of rain and the sky stays blue and cloudless: Hey, they never guaranteed rain!
Trick No. 2: Always give the widest range possible. For example, if there’s a snowstorm coming, tell viewers to expect between two and 14 inches of snow. That way, there is almost zero chance of your failing to predict the correct amount of accumulation! You sneaky devil, you.
Trick No. 3: When in doubt, go for the extreme. Have a warm front rolling in come mid-July that’ll slightly raise the humidity. Make sure everyone knows exactly how unbearable the next four days will be and encourage viewers to flood the beaches. Expecting a snowstorm? Inform your viewers of the recent spike in Yeti sightings and recommend making a trip to the supermarket to purchase emergency supplies in the case of a four-day snow-in. We humans are a decidedly pessimistic race and viewers will gladly eat up all the doom-and-gloom you’re dishing out. And if someone calls you out on predicting an apocalyptic hurricane that turned out to be a mild spring breeze, simply remind that Negative Nancy that it’s always better to overestimate — rather than underestimate — when it comes to natural disasters!
So, you see, there’s really nothing to being a weatherman. You’re all as qualified as I am — which is to say, not at all. It’s best to just use your common sense. It will generally be hot in the summer, cold in the winter and somewhere in between the rest of the time. (Boston weathermen, you might want to write that down.)
And if you’re one of the few Jumbos who actually watch the news, keep your eyes peeled for yours truly.
Lex Erath is a sophomore who has not yet declared a major. She can be reached at Alexandra.Erath@tufts.edu.