Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Don't Trust the Weatherman

I do not mind the rain. I like rain. I even like storms.

I like sunshine and snow. I like a nice breeze, as well (except for that windstorm on June 29 - that was a bummer.) I am pretty much an all-weather acceptance kind of girl.

What I do mind are very inaccurate weather forecasts. We have been plagued with them of late.

I personally believe in climate change, regardless of reason, and figure some of the inaccuracies are due to the weirdness that has been happening. Uncharted waters and all of that.

But this summer the local weather folks have been off more than they've been on. It's been disastrous.

Yesterday the forecast for today was 30 percent chance of rain. And the rest of the week was something like 30 percent Monday, 20 percent Tuesday, 10 percent, Wednesday.

To be fair, we didn't just check local stations yesterday morning. We checked many sources, including national. They all said the same thing. It was going to be a beautiful week with minimal chance of rain.

So my husband cut hay yesterday. You can't get much better than a 30 percent chance of rain, really. There's almost always a 30 percent chance of a storm in the summer.

We woke up to a large rainfall. Not a passing shower. An all-day event, from the looks of it.

Now the weather forecast is at 60 percent chance of rain today, 40 percent chance on Monday, 30 on Tuesday, and 10 percent on Wednesday.

That's a big jump, from 30 percent to 60 percent in the space of a few hours.

I have one unhappy farmer in the kitchen this morning.

The problem with rain on cut hay is that it molds. Animals won't eat it once it molds. Our hay not only feeds our animals, it is also a cash crop. The money from it is an important part of our livelihood.

Arguing with a weatherman is like arguing with a skunk, really. You aren't going to win. As long as they have a percentage of rain in the forecast, they can claim victory.

Trouble is, no one holds them accountable for the thousands of dollars they cost the agricultural community every year.

Below is a little discussion I had on Facebook this morning with one of the local weather forecasters. I have removed things that identify the TV station, the weatherman and the name of someone from the public who commented, but left my name, because I'm not trying to call out a single local weather person but rather comment on the entire industry:

I'm really curious. So which was it, the forecast "did a complete flop" and flipped unexpectedly from being sunny to rain (meaning they had it wrong yesterday), as the weatherman indicated in his first response, or was rain in the forecast and this downpour was something we should have expected yesterday, as he indicated in his second response?

Does 30 percent mean it's going to rain after all? It used to be a pretty good indicator of sunshine.  Should we only cut hay when we wake up and its a 0 percent chance of rain? Do you know how often that happens? I've never seen a day with a 0 percent chance of rain in the forecast.

I did not continue this discussion on Facebook as I don't like doing that and didn't see the point.

But honestly, those two answers right there give me a good reason not to trust the weatherman - regardless of who he or she is.


  1. Do you cut hay to feed or to sell? I may have some extra if you need it for cows. The horses look like they may sell, then I won't need the hay.

  2. That stinks!!! I was thinking that the rain came out of nowhere. I drove to Woolwine (1.5+hr) to a bike race thinking well maybe it's just a morning shower. I would have never left home had I known I'd be stuck in a downpour. I will probably have a $150 + repair bill for my bike, which I know is a drop in the hat compared to your hay. I'm so sick of their stupidity in forecasting and I'm about ready to stop watching the particular station you so kindly whited out (which kudos to you for doing because I would have just left it). I'm glad you confirmed that neither me or my mom has lost our minds in what we thought the forecast was today.

    1. Thank you, Jen, for that! We checked the weather forecast early Saturday - of course, because hubby had to hit the hayfield - and the forecast was clear. We woke this morning to this surprise rain. Glad to know we're not the only ones scratching our heads.

  3. So sorry for your cash loss, Anita. Sounds like your local station needs a new meteorology department. Sure, weather can change on a dime, but this particular "weather guru" does seem to be contradicting himself and making up excuses. I usually watch one local station over the other two for weather, as they offer a "four degree guarantee." Their rate of accuracy is quite high.

  4. That's interesting. He didn't tell you much (mind you, I wouldn't put anything you could be held to on FaceBook at all). As I understand it, weathermen don't use sea weed or go by the sky at night or whatever. They use computer models. They collect lots of data from all over the country and beyond, feed it in, and then interpret the charts (the "models") the computer produces. They do this regularly, after three or four hour intervals, and it is obvious the models do indeed flip significantly quite often. The weather man's experience plays a part, but the data going into the models and the quality of the software play large parts too. I must say, I envy you your percentage models. Over here, a 30 per cent chance of rain would have emerged as a forecast of a dry day - they seem to think British people aren't capable of understanding that a percentage forecast leaves the possibility of rain (or dryness) in place. We have been getting extremely unreliable forecasts too, and like you I think (I don't believe this: I think the case is proved) that climate change is making the modelling software in the computers more than usually unreliable. Specifically, warm air over the arctic is playing havoc with the usual patterns of weather round the northern hemisphere. I am so sorry about the ruined hay harvest. The only good thing I can think to say is that at least you aren't suffering from that awful drought. Oh, and rain makes the grass grow, and cattle eat grass, so your cattle should be thriving, at least.

  5. I'm sorry Anita. I would be pissed too. I like how you caught that how he contradicted himself! And then he has the nerve to say "Thanks for watching." I think a lot of these weathermen are like celebrities today. Like Heather, I used to watch that other one with the four degree guarantee.

    By the way, not only will some animals not eat the moldy hay, but horses CAN'T eat it because if they do, and they will if that's all they have, or some sneaks in, they'll get colic and can die.

  6. I was just thinking about this this morning (the unpredictable weather) when a storm cloud blew up. We did get a gully wash yesterday. All I had to lose was a load of not-to-dry laundry. Sorry about your hay.

  7. Our weekend plans were all in a tizzy due to the flip-flopping forecast. But that's a minor inconvenience compared to the hit you had to take. I'm so sorry about your hay crop.
    Sometimes I think we might be better with the old timer's methods of forecasting.
    The way you scratched out the identity of the weatherman on facebook cracks me up : )

  8. Our weekend plans were all in a tizzy due to the flip-flopping forecast. But that's a minor inconvenience compared to the hit you had to take. I'm so sorry about your hay crop.
    Sometimes I think we might be better with the old timer's methods of forecasting.
    The way you scratched out the identity of the weatherman on facebook cracks me up : )

  9. So sorry that they hay will spoil.... that's a huge loss of time and money.
    MY DH Joe always says that weathermen have the only job he knows where you can be wrong consistently and still keep your job and what's worse never acknowledge that you made a mistake the next day!
    I'm catching up after several weeks of not reading blogs and it sure sounds like you had a great visit to Rockbridge County and Staunton. Next time you're here be sure to call or email and I'd love to meet!!


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