Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hurricane Season Is Here.

I watched a somewhat puerile local weather man on TV earlier. He said some of us had received 'localized' rain and thunderstorms. I’ve never understood what ‘localized’ means. The word hospitalized means that someone has been put in a hospital. I would have thought that localized would mean that someone had been put in their local (pub). But then again, I’ve never understood Dew Point.

Mr. Boy Weather Man said that there's something brewing in the Atlantic - enough for the weather forecaster to send us mere mortals to Home Depot to buy lashings of batteries, plywood for our windows and Winn Dixie (Floridian supermarket) for bottled water and canned foods. And after the weather forecasts then come the commercials from Home Depot and Winn Dixie. This Atlantic activity ‘might’ be a tropical storm, which ‘could’ become a ‘hurricane’. “Stay tuned for the next three days, and we might be able to tell you more.” I still have some canned foods from 2004.

This local news station is really quite pathetic. I swear that their weather forecasts are based upon looking out of the window. Their studio is not too far away, and recently there was a tremendous downpour which covered the whole Tampa Bay area. They continued to say there was a 20% chance of rain that day. Duh! Their traffic reports always tell you that there is a short delay on the Howard Franklin (Bridge) of about a quarter of a mile. Sitting six miles behind stationary cars on the HF does make you want to break the radio.

Hurricane Season (officially June 1st to November 30th) is a godsend for weather forecasters. They can stand there in front of the camera with loads of colorful charts showing that any disturbance in the Atlantic ‘could’ become a hurricane. Obviously, we must all be vigilant and prepared. We ‘could’ even have to be evacuated. This is where millions of South Eastern US people take to their cars, load them with bottled water and canned foods and drive ‘somewhere safe’. Most end up riding out the storm in their cars as the roads are clogged. Eating cold baked beans from a can and drinking bottled water is not to be encouraged as it might exacerbate the wind situation. All commercials before and after the weather forecasts are for Home Depot/Lowes, or hurricane service vendors or supermarkets.

This smacks of crying ‘wolf’, and people tend to ignore the warnings. TV Stations were castigated for this a few years back, but then Florida got hit by four hurricanes within a five week period. (That was a scary time. I shall never forget the sight of a fully grown uprooted tree traveling down the street at about 30 – 35 mph.) But the weather forecasters were happy again. Their credibility was restored (in their eyes). I suspect that after three years, most people will tend not to listen to them again, which is a shame, but they really shouldn’t try to scare the crap out of people for the benefit of advertising revenue.

A worrying aspect of all this is that one of the major satellites that gives information and monitors any hurricane activity has developed a fault, and ‘could’ be sending out wrong data. There’s that word ‘could’ again.

Where is Michael Fish when you need him?

Here endeth today’s lesson.