Victus Spiritus


Predictable Rainy Days

03 Oct 2009


Rain Can Dampen Any Day

Instinctively I roll over in the morning to the sound of rain with dread. I loathe long walks in the rain as my sneakers and feet become soaked, so rain is the antithesis to one of my favorite activities (walking!). This morning booming thunderstorms rolled through the middle section of Long Island and got me up at 3am. But there is something pretty awesome about the rain (silver lining jokes aside), and it's beyond the wonderful irrigation power of rain and it's enabling of life. Our ability to predict weather has drastically changed in my lifetime.

When I was a kid, we'd eagerly watch the weather forecast in the morning on a public broadcast station, or listen to it on the radio. The arcane mysteries of weather prediction were for meteorologists, TV and radio personalities to understand. A few folks dressed up in suits (bah!) or my preferred forecaster uniform, rain coats, were the gatekeepers to the upcoming state of weather. How in the world could just a few people predict the weather? And why were they doing such a bad job of being accurate? I'd imagine all the moisture suspended within the atmosphere, swirling about in a gaseous medium we call an atmosphere. The energy is enormous for weather systems, yet their building blocks are minuscule molecules of water continually rising as vapor and falling as droplets, amidst cold and hot air flows. Then along came the Internet, and interactive weather maps!

Doppler radar powered weather  imagery has been the mainstay of local forecasters for some time. These active sensors project pulses of light that get a return signal from big moisture fronts. We see them all the time in places like (The Weather Channel). Now forecast is as simple as showing the past motion of storm fronts and letting our minds extrapolate the immediate future. They even added a button to estimate the future of weather fronts based on previous weather states. Checking the weather now is as easy and clicking on a shortcut, no matter where we are travelling to there's a great local forecast and intermediate regional forecasts.

This morning I was reminded of a lot more than the pitter patter of rain drops on my roof. I was reminded of how awesome technology has evolved into predicting the state of weather, and to how fortunate we are by having this power in each of our hands. The world needs the internet, if for nothing else than shared weather prediction!