Skip to main content

McGuire's Musings: Weathering the storm in this high-pressure job

January 17, 2014

Mark Twain said, "Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."

I'm not sure why that is. I thought some scientists have tried
by putting some kind of pellets into the clouds which could determine the outcome of the Thursday-morning forecast in the Panic area.

Here I am, living in the "Weather Capital of the World," with the
the premiere weather forecaster, Punxsy Phil, and I've not attempted to do anything.

Since I've been on a I-should-have-made-this-my-career kick lately, here's another almost career of mine: weatherman.

Back when I went to school at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, I was involved in several areas of broadcasting, one of which was forecasting the weather on WKSU TV-2, the campus television station with viewership of about 15. And 12 of the viewers were in the television control room and in the studio.

Back in the seventies, they didn't have fancy green screens or even blue screens that predated the green ones that you see at the Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center.

The first time I was expected to do a televised weather forecast, the producers of TV-2 News handed me a grease pencil and the newspaper and said, "have at it."

The person in charge, whose name I don't recall, said to me, "Draw cold fronts, high-pressure systems, occluded fronts and isobars." Say what???

He also said, "Throw some temperatures up on the map, too, if you feel like it."

Following the directions I was given, I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the little map out of the newspaper and was ready to start drawing my own weather map.

It was then that I noticed that yesterday's pretend weather forecaster's map was still up there.

"Rubbing alcohol please!" I yelled.

Following a messy, but quick, cleanup, I began to perform my magic in illustrating the weather as I viewed it.

I completed my task and prepared to deliver my first forecast.

It was at the last minute that I realized that I didn't have a script and was expected to ad lib around the drawings and numbers on my map and the day-by-day forecast board.

That was what I did; I sort of made it up as I went along, based on the few loose facts that I knew about tomorrow's forecast.

If you notice the picture of me forecasting the weather at TV-2, you'll notice first that I had hair and lots of it. I'm also wearing some very cool-looking plaid pants that were really trendy in 1975, along with holding a really cool-looking pointer.

I never took it seriously, little did I realize that I should've.

For those of you who remember George Carlin, the comedian, he had a bit that he did called "Al Sleet the Hippy-Dippy Weatherman."

You can probably see that bit on You Tube.

If we had ever seen him, that may have been what Al Sleet looked like.

After I graduated to pursue my radio career, I watched the weather forecasters and noticed that nobody kept score as to whether they were right or wrong.

Eventually, grease pencil maps were replaced by computer-generated maps, while the forecaster stands in front of that blue or green screen.

Today's weather forecasters are all meteorologists and are backed by huge professional forecast organizations like The Weather
Channel, AccuWeather or some other organization, such as Penn State.

Back in the '60s and '70s, the weatherman was usually a staff announcer who announced the station identification, live tags on commercials and did the weather at 6 and 11 p.m.

That was when the news was only 30 minutes long and the weather lasted three minutes tops.

Now, the weather is on numerous times during the news, it has its own channel, and it has become a major corporation.

Last year, some attorney in Ohio filed a lawsuit against our beloved "Seer of Seers" Punxsy Phil, alleging that Phil's forecast of an early spring was wrong.

That led our also-beloved Bill Deeley, president of the Groundhog Club Inner Circle, to take the blame for not getting it right.

What about the rest of the weather forecasters with their green screens, computers and fancy graphics who don't always get it right?

An anonymous weather forecaster, in their defense, said, "It's like dropping a stick in a stream and then forecasting where it will be in 'x' number of hours.

"The further the distance or the greater the amount of time, the less likely that forecast is going to be accurate, because more things can happen. A fish could jump, or another stick could fall in."

Finally, an explanation that makes sense. Say what?

This actually makes me have even more respect for the weather forecasters of today, male or female, who have guts to predict the weather.

We know that many things influence the weather, and in our neck of the woods, we have the dreaded "north of the interstate" caveat, meaning accumulations will be slightly higher. Which makes you wonder why anyone lives there, since all the bad weather seems to happen north of the
interstate.

That is why Punxsy Phil deserves a lot of credit — he does a pretty good job since he only forecasts the weather one day out of the year for six weeks at a time.

Not an easy job — and it's all based on seeing his shadow.

What does this all mean?

Who knows! I'm sure of one thing — that I blew it again! I should have been a weatherman, I mean meteorologist. I think I could put on a pretty good occluded front. Ha ha. I don't know what that means, and in the world of predicting the weather, it doesn't matter.

Spirit reporter Larry McGuire is glad he doesn't have the pressure of predicting what Mother Nature will do next.

A special Legislature Farewell Breakfast was held in honor of PA State Representative Sam Smith early Friday morning....
When it comes to children riding in cars, safety always comes first.
VIDEO: 6 Ways To Pack A Better Lunch
On Friday night, the Chucks football team defeated the Union Knights in a shootout, 54-36, after...
On Thursday, the girls' volleyball team at PAHS earned its first win over Altoona since starting...
Punxsy's boys' cross country (led by Eric Ingros, pictured here) led the Chucks and Lady Chucks in...

 

Premium Drupal Themes by Adaptivethemes