New London Day

Featured in Daybreak

Obsessing Over The Weather

Day Staff Writer
Published on 8/22/2003

No doubt about it, Americans have gone bonkers over weather.

On some days, people seem more interested in what the heavens might unleash than what the president has to say about Iraq or the economy.

We've keyed in our zip codes on the Internet's The Weather Channel page, able to get a look at the forecast for the week ahead with a single keystroke.

There are day-by-day breakdowns, predicting the high temperatures, low temperatures, likelihood of rain, sleet or snow, the UV index — you name it, they've got it.

We've become consumed with cloud cover, heat indexes, wind chill, humidity, radar maps, dew points, wind speed, barometric pressure, visibility, jet streams, even Doppler radar.

We watch television and channel surf from our favorite sitcom or movie of the week to The Weather Channel, knowing the local forecast is broadcast once every 10 minutes.

The Connecticut affiliates of the major broadcast networks all have teams of meteorologists who usually tell us what it's doing outdoors even before we get the day's headlines.

They flash bulletins when severe storms are moving across the state and razzle-dazzle us with fancy maps and graphics, making at-home forecasting as simple as decoding images of bolts of lightning, storm clouds, and rays of sunshine.

Weather is big business.

It drives trade at golf courses and amusement parks and helps to sell, or not sell, ice cream, air conditioners and snow shovels.

We're totally preoccupied by weather.

We complain all winter about the ice and snow, and daydream about sultry summer days.

Summer comes, and with it, the haze and humidity, and we're longing for the cooler days of fall.

Gosh, why can't we just enjoy the weather that we have?

Predictions are great for hurricanes and tornadoes, but why tie ourselves up in knots over forecasts that we have no control over?

No discredit to the meteorologists, I know they're working hard with the sophisticated equipment that they have, but all last week they predicted gloomy skies, and here along the shoreline, it turned out to be a pretty glorious week.

Channel 8's meteorologist Geoff Fox says forecasting is fairly accurate today and can help folks plan which day is best to sand the bottom of the boat or take that 10-mile bike ride. But he wouldn't recommend changing your vacation week based on a long-term forecast.

People, he says, live moment-to-moment today, not season-to-season. I think he has a point there.

As a kid, I don't remember being so obsessed about the weather. I can't recall my folks checking the daily forecast on the back page of the newspaper to see what might be in store for the day ahead. I think they just looked out the window before heading out the door to see whether a sweater or an umbrella was necessary.

If we had plans to go to the beach or to a picnic, we assumed the weather would be fine and didn't check the radar map and UV index before packing our bag and cooler. We didn't postpone a trip to the amusement park or a day of sailing because Doppler radar suggested it might not be one of the 10 best days of the year.

Now, I'm not knocking people who are completely absorbed by the weather. Actually, I'm pretty obsessed about it, too. But lately, I've been thinking that maybe it would be healthier if I went cold turkey on The Weather Channel and Dr. Mel Goldstein and stopped Googling my favorite weather site every time I'm on line.

The weather is absolutely out of my control. Fox and Goldstein may be able to predict it, but I still have no muscle on making the sun shine. And neither do you. 

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