By Dom Serafini
American TV meteorologists seem to be lacking one essential tool: windows. Yes, they seem to be without windows in their perfectly acclimatized, technologically furbished television studios. And we’re not talking about the latest Microsoft Windows, but brick-and-mortar ones (with or without sills) that overlook the streets — no matter what floor they’re on.
These experts have everything it takes to offer a spectacular show that will be repeated live every 15 minutes (as only in perpetually sunny California can the weather forecast be pre-recorded and aired on a loop), with animated weather maps showing the movements of perturbations, the temperature statistics with colored bars jumping up and down on the TV screen, the humidity percentages, the solar UV levels, and the expected rain and/or snow accumulations down to tenths of inches (not centimeters, as the metric system is too complicated!).
They have all the latest technological gadgets… except what it takes to make accurate predictions. And we do not expect good forecasts for the following day; accurately predicting the weather for the next hour would be more than appreciated! But this cannot be done simply because they have no windows to look out of, as sailors and fishermen, for example, have done for centuries.
The proof for of all this was clear during the “We Love New York Homecoming Concert” that took place in New York City’s Central Park on Saturday, August 21, 2021. Some 60,000 spectators were there; those who had had the patience to book free admission tickets online after first showing their vaccination certificates.
The concert (which started at 5 p.m. and was scheduled until 9 p.m.) was in progress when at 7:30 p.m. –– after Andrea Bocelli and Carlos Santana had performed and Barry Manilow was singing on stage –– it was interrupted by a message from the organizers inviting the public to “get out of the park immediately, but in an orderly fashion” due to the imminent storm as thunder and lightning were expected (although the lightning bolts should have been reserved for the meteorologists!). At that time, two heavyweights had yet to perform: Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen.
That the storm (Hurricane Henri) was coming had been known for a week, but all the weather forecasts predicted bad weather for New York City on the following day, Sunday, with torrential rain and wind estimated at 60 miles per hour. Only clouds were forecasted for Saturday, with temperatures around 72 degrees F, and high humidity.
The speed with which the storm moved surprised TV meteorologists who were locked up in their windowless studios intent on staring at the graphs on their computers. It would have been sufficient for just one of them to have gone down to the street to buy a cup of coffee (decaf, naturally, with two percent milk and no sugar), to observe the threatening clouds that were coming from the south and then change the forecast at least an hour before the deluge came.
Depending on the television network, in the U.S. the weather service is advertised as “Accu-Weather” or as “Exclusive.” The former indicates that they have accurate weather, the latter that the forecasts are exclusive. That they are inaccurately identical doesn’t matter. Inaccuracy has no copyrights.
And the inaccurate forecast for the Central Park concert is not an isolated case. Lately, TV meteorologists can’t seem to get it right. It is also indicative that weathermen do not even seem to get right how to match ties and shirts with suits or, for weatherwomen, shirts and accessories with dresses/skirts.
Until recently it was possible to tolerate their way of “adapting” the forecast according to the day of the week: partly cloudy on weekdays, partly sunny on weekends. But but with today’s global warming haunting us, winter forecasts with minus 10 degree temperatures are no longer acceptable.