Saturday, October 8, 2016

A Suggestion To Improve Weather Forecasts

The weather forecast for today had called for rain. Definitely rain.

The weathermen on the local TV stations had been in agreement. There will be showers, they said.

It will not be a great day, one of them confidently predicted.

As it happened, I'd had a great day planned. My wife and I had tickets to an outdoor chili pepper festival. More than 60 food vendors offering samples of spicy sauces, spicy jams, spicy chocolates, and spicy drinks. A full afternoon of burning my mouth and torturing my intestinal tract. I was really looking forward to it.

(I nearly wrote that the chili pepper festival would be our hottest date yet and that it would spice up our marriage. But rather than run the risk of making you groan, even if intentionally, I decided to throw these jokes out there as an afterthought, in between parentheses, instead. A fair compromise.)

The forecast dampened my spirits. There was no point in taking a long subway ride to the festival if it was going to rain.

I put my trust in what the weathermen had said. It will not be a great day. So last night I told my wife that it would be best if we skipped the festival.

Jump ahead to this morning. I woke up and I lay in bed, doing what I normally do when it's raining: debate whether it is worth getting out of bed. I should be productive, shouldn't I? But how can I be productive in this weather? I can't go out there, I'll get wet. But even if I don't leave the house, I can't just lounge around in my pajamas and cover myself from head to toe in blankets for the rest of the day. Or can I?

Once I finally decided to roll out of bed, I walked toward the windows and opened the blinds, just to see how hard the rain was coming down. Not hard at all, as it turned out. I didn't see one drop of water falling from the sky. There were clouds, yes, but no sign of precipitation, no real threat of showers. I could go out there, after all. The weather held up for the chili pepper festival, and my wife and I went. It all worked out.

Still, I was upset. Upset with the weathermen. They screwed up, again. They nearly ruined my day with their erroneous forecast. They promised me rain, and they broke that promise. Shame on them.

Weathermen make mistakes. We all know this. We understand that they are unable to predict weather with 100% accuracy. And surely they understand that we're still going to complain about it, and we're going to complain about it a lot. It must affect them mentally, to some degree. They work under a high-pressure system.

Something needs to change. The current method of forecasting the weather isn't working. This is my idea: Switch the weatherman and the lottery host. Why not? The weather forecast feels just as random as the lottery draw. At least it would be more exciting my way.

Here's how it would work: The lottery host would use Ping-Pong balls to project the high temperatures for the week. "The first ball up…an 8, the next...a 15, the third...a 19, the next...a 23, and the final ball...a 31, making the five-day forecast 8, 15, 19, 23, and 31."

It would be a weather lottery, and we'd play along by purchasing tickets. What if you had accurately predicted these numbers? You'd never be more thrilled by below-freezing temperatures!

Even better: The weatherman would help you select the numbers on your tickets by forecasting future lottery draws. Let's see what the Doppler can really do.

"Checking in with our radar, you can see that we have a Ping-Pong ball coming in from the south on Monday, and that's going to bring a number in the high teens. There's a 20% to 80% chance it could be a 16."

The lottery draw forecast could be called Accu-Draw, or Accu-Balls. Just a suggestion.

If a weatherman were to predict the lottery numbers correctly just once, we'd be so happy with our cash prize that we wouldn't care that he's wrong so many other times. It's a win-win for everyone.

Getting back to the chili pepper festival: I had a great time. The highlight of the day came when I tasted a pepper-based jam that had the word "devil" in its name. The vendor warned me that it would be extremely hot, but I ignored her, scooped a glob of the jam onto a cracker, and swallowed it whole.

I then did my best impression of Homer Simpson reacting to Chief Wiggum's merciless pepper of Quetzalacatenango.

My mouth was on fire. For minutes, I scrambled around the festival, desperately searching for water to drink, from any source. I looked to the clouds above me and I thought to myself, "I wish it was raining right now."