Wednesday, May 31, 2006

(just a bad spell of whether)

I have spent a lot of time over the last 40 years on Lake Michigan. I've been out in sail boats, power boats, trawlers and kayaks; and I always check the weather "prediction" before leaving land. All of this has resulted in one strong judgement, which is as follows:

There is no such thing as weather prediction.
This, in turn, has led to the therome that
If it is a good forecast, it will be so.
If it is a bad forecast, it will almost always be wrong.
Now why, do I say so? Am I trying to get people killed out there? After all, that lake can go from calm to ugly in a very short period of time. Well, I say this from all the data I have gathered in my faulty memory.
In the beginning...
I cancelled way too many outings because of a bad weather forecast which did not prove true. Since the summer and traditional water opportunities are few around here, this substantially cut into my time on the water. Time after time I sat ashore while the foul weather never happened.
I look at the forecast, and I look at the radar to see what is west, NW and SW of here and how fast it is moving. I look to see if there is a pressure front approaching. Then I go out and keep my eye on the western sky. As a result, my time on the water has increased enormously.
So, why are things the way they are? Well, I have a theory about that as well (surprised?).
If there is any chance in hell of bad weather and they don't predict it, people could get hurt or, at the very least, angry after being caught in unexpected weather.
If, on the other hand, the prediction is for bad weather and it does not occur, most people are delighted that the bad stuff didn't happen all over them.
See, it's like spinning in politics. Heck, I remember when a forecast was just that, a statement about how the weather would be. They (ever notice, it's always they?) finally realized that there was no way they could predict the weather and introduced the % sign. Now, they say there is a such and such % chance of rain, and they can never be wrong.
What to do:
Get a basic book on weather, or read some of the excellent chapters in kayak books that cover the subject. Then, since you are already responsible for your own safety, figure out what you need to do to be prudent and safe.
Trust me. Autopsy always shows I'm right.


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