Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Meteorology means never having to say, "I'm sorry."


Everybody makes mistakes. No one is perfect. All of us have missed the mark from time to time. But Good Lord, what in the world has gotten into the weather forecasters in Richmond, Virginia?

There’s this guy who works out of his basement in Chesterfield who seems to have started a meteorological cat fight amongst the profession of late. As far as I can tell, this guy made his bones from one forecast ten years ago where he called for a huge snowstorm a couple of weeks before it happened and instantly developed something like a cult following. He has a web site and a presence on Facebook from which he routinely trashes all of the local TV weathermen, calling them every name in the book for having the audacity to disagree with his forecasts.

Well now, after his initial prescient call way back when, he has turned into the proverbial stopped clock of forecasting…worthless 99% of the time but right twice a day regardless. Practically every one of his big predictions ends up being a bust, and yet I don’t believe I’ve ever heard anything approaching an apology from him when the local TV guys he constantly rips end up being much more accurate. It has become a fascinating spectacle to watch him make some outlandish outlier forecast, then start calling his competitors names. Ultimately, more often than not he ends up making an unprofessional, boorish fool of himself. And yet, he still remains in the business, meteorology obviously being the kind of business where accuracy is neither required nor expected.

Now that I think about it, the weather forecasting gig is an awful lot like politics. Apparently, being consistently wrong is not a career killer. John Kerry can spend his whole life being wrong about every foreign policy question this country has faced over the last fifty years and what happens? He becomes Secretary of State.
So, if the past is prologue, the mean little dude from Chesterfield will probably end up running NOAA before long.