Weather Forecasting

I cannot get over the accuracy of the weather forecasting here.  It’s almost like some sort of spooky precognition is at work.  This is especially when compared to the type of weather forecasting I have lived with in Scotland which was more akin to just plucking some meteorological terms from a hat and hoping for the best.

A forecast for the West coast of Scotland, where we lived, would often be along the lines of, “Mostly sunny with periods of cloud and occasional showers, heavy at times.”  That would be an example of covering all your bases and that is why we would often set out on day trips wearing shorts and t-shirts but with raincoats in backpacks, sunscreen and wellies, because preparing for all the possible seasons you might experience in one Scottish day means lugging enough equipment to require a sherpa.  We wore a lot of layers which we would peel off and on with each hour that passed.

Then there was another type of weather forecasting statement: predictions based perhaps more on hope than accurate interpretation.  A declaration of a sunny day.  It would rain.  Showers expected.  It would lash with rain.  A chance of light snow.  It would be cold and rainy.  It rains so much in Scotland that I am sometimes surprised that we have not begun to evolve gills.  But then there would be some days when they would predict rain so we would set out wearing all of our waterproofing just to broil in our own sweat under the heat of the sun, the circumference of our wellies sticking and rubbing to our calves as we trudged along actually annoyed by a non-rainy day for a change.  But those days were rare.  Mostly it rained.  But even the level of rainfall would be wrong.  Light showers would in actuality be lashing rain and heavy showers would be torrential.  Some Summers I wondered about getting a job lot of gopher wood.

Here in Pennsylvania, by comparison, the forecasting is mind-bogglingly accurate.  It’s like magical divination.  I can look at my Weather Channel app at even the 10 day forecast and be fairly certain that that is how the week ahead is going to look.  If a snow blizzard is predicted to hit our particular county at 10am then wouldn’t you know it but the first flurries of snow start to settle at approximately 10am.  It is a very odd experience for me to be able to plan ahead like this, to be able to set off from the house wearing just the exact number of layers required and without a backpack full of backup plan clothing.  Of course, my weather neuroses still kicks in from time to time and, largely out of a habitual skepticism for weather forecasting, I will stow some waterproofing layers in the boot of the car, but I have never yet been proven right in doing so.

Even today, following a day long blizzard, on the umpteenth snow day of the season, as my kids play noisily in the adjacent room instead of being at school, I am prepared to declare that I like this climate.