Another Kind of Information

Map of NWS Forecast Offices and Regions

The map above (copied from our January 9th post) shows National Weather Service offices and forecast areas across the United States. Weather systems usually arrive from the west, southwest, or northwest, depending on where you are, so it seems like the more weather observations you have upwind of you, the easier it would be to develop a good forecast. For example, understanding and forecasting the weather would be easier east of the Rocky Mountains than it would be on the Pacific Coast. After all, an office in the Midwest could draw upon observations from weather stations ranging from nearby to tens or even hundreds of miles upwind to know what might be coming. In a way, distance represents time, since it takes time for the weather system to arrive from a distant point of observation. Whether those observations come from a few minutes, hours, or days earlier, they represent a short-term weather history that can lead to better understanding and prediction.

Weather history can help forecasts in other ways. For example, Livermore lies in a local rain shadow caused by Rocky Ridge to the south, Pleasanton Ridge to the west, and Mount Diablo to the northwest. History shows that our part of Livermore often receives less rain than the Bay Area forecast might predict when storms sweep in from the Pacific Ocean. If weather forecasters take that geography-driven history into account, their forecasts for our very local area become more accurate.

What would happen if a local weather office decided to ignore information from stations upwind or ignore local weather history? What if they decided to rewrite that information according to what they wanted? This would mean ignoring useful, relevant information that could improve understanding and forecasting. In a sense, ignoring that information would be like throwing away short-term history (upwind observations) and long-term history (historical local weather behavior).

Sadly, we see a variety of movements in our country that aim to ignore short-term and long-term history. When the news media choose to hide or distort news coverage, this in effect ignores recent reality. Long-term history goes by the wayside when activists remove statues or other artwork, change the names of schools or other public buildings, abandon classical literature in schools, or distort documented history. We know from examples in other countries (until those examples are ignored or erased) that these movements will cost us dearly if allowed to continue.

It is easy to see the problems, but not so easy to suggest constructive, actionable solutions. It may take a little time, but you need to pay attention to reliable news sources. It may take a little homework, but you should consider getting involved in local or even regional politics. Write letters to your elected representatives. We (the taxpayers) pay them to represent you, regardless of whether you voted for them. If you can’t write, phone their office. Keep track of what the school board, city council, and state legislature are up to. And whenever you have an opportunity, speak the truth, preferably with a spirit of respect. Factual, historical truth matters, and your voice can make a difference. Trite and often-said, but still a bedrock truth!

3 thoughts on “Another Kind of Information

  1. Hummm, comparing meteorology with politics. Yah, I can see that …, ahh, from a distance without my glasses on. Its like probabilities when rolling loaded die. Or not. How does the Farmers Almanac play into this?


    1. Not sure I understand your comment, since there was no mention of partisan politics, but only political involvement which derives from our citizenship. The transition from meteorology to historical information simply provides a useful illustration of the value of historical information.


      1. Nor did I mention partisan politics. And politics does not solely related to elected politicians. There are politics in the church, at the workplace, among neighbors, etc. Whereever differing agendas abound, there will be politics. It’s because of biases and differing interpretations that the accuracy of history may be at risk. The politics of agendas, biases and interpretations of historical weather patterns can influence the weighting of various dependent and independent variables when developing meteriology models. And yes we do not know the future, have difficulty defining current events, but history can be validated and is truth, i.e., the Bible. Now, what about the farmers Almanac, history??


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