What does it take to call yourself a meteorologist? Nothing, really. By this, I mean, officially. Some Joe Shmoe walking down the street can feel an ache in his bones and say to himself and the world around, "Weather's a-changing. Gonna rain tomorrow." And heck, he might be right based on his past experiences. So, if that is the criteria you want to use, then go for it. As I said in a previous blog, everybody is an expert on weather. Everybody knows something about it.
The difference between that man and someone like me is that I have spent hard-earned money to be taught about the atmosphere and how to interpret it. That's...really...it. For instance, countless people here in the San Francisco Bay Area experience the seasonal fluctuations of the marine layer that basically dictate the area's weather pattern (a bit of hyperbole, I realize). So, each one of these people can have a specific guess (shall we say forecast) about what the marine layer may mean on a daily basis. But, a trained (or tuitioned) meteorologist can interpret the marine layer and its effects on the area, expect its inland penetration, and justify his or her forecast with sound evidence. That is, if you feel that "my knee hurts" is not justifiable evidence.
But, there is hope for you "un-tuitioned" meteorologists out there. For years now, I have made countless forecasts and have come to realize that there are some very simple things you can do to look like a trained meteorologist. You know, if you want to impress that gal or guy at your local bar.
1. Never look out a window
In the old days (I say this like I lived during the old days), meteorologists looked out a window or even (heaven forbid) went outside to actually see and feel what the weather is doing. Now, it is all available at the tips of your fingers. Thank...you...internet. Now, you can just sit in your nice comfy seat, checking what the weather is like just on the other side of the wall between playing tennis matches on your Wii.
Just the other day my wife was working at my computer while I went outside to dump the garbage. Upon returning to the house, she asked, "Seems cold outside, is it?" To which I promptly answered, "I don't know, check the weather station console in front of you." The console on the desk was connected to my weather station and displayed everything she needed to know. See, no reason she had to go outside!
2. Know some terms that no one else knows
Meteorology is more than just saying things like, "it's gonna rain," or "the humidity is killing me," or "how about that sea-level rise?" You have to know some actual terms that the general public has no idea about. Now, you may not know any in regard to meteorology, but you have an "in." Me. All you have to do is randomly put words in your sentences like "cumulonimbus", "graupel", "Bergeron Process", or "virtual temperature."
It doesn't even have to be used in the correct context because the general public doesn't know what you are talking about anyway. The only risk you run is accidentally talking to a "real" meteorologist. But don't worry, there is no fine for impersonating a weatherman. You can say things like, "wow, now there is an example of the Bergeron Process", or "the virtual temperature is really getting to me today," or "beware of graupel!"
3. Walk around with a green screen
The only meteorologist the general public knows is on their local TV station. Not only do they know them, but they feel comfortable with that smiling, happy face telling them what the weather is definitely going to be tomorrow. So, be that person. Get yourself a nice suit, go cut your hair, and put some foundation on. Then, go to your local photography store and get yourself a green screen, set it up on a busy corner, and just start giving out forecasts. Don't know what to say? No big deal, see Number 2.
You will soon see that people begin to trust you more than their own mothers and will return to hear your forecasts everyday.
4. Use terms that are ambiguous
Whenever you hear a forecast on TV or see it on a website, there are certain terms that you should be aware of and replicate. The best one is "mild". For instance, "tomorrow is expected to be mild." What does that even mean anyway? Who knows? Who cares? Warm and fuzzy, warm and fuzzy.
Another one is "pleasant." There is nothing like that word because it conjures up images of your nice old grandmother and a warm mug of hot chocolate. Mmmm, pleasant.
5. Never, ever say it is going to be sunny
The general public does not know that the terms "sunny," "mostly sunny," "partly cloudy," etc., actually have NWS definitions. So, if you say "mostly sunny" instead of "sunny", you are more likely to be correct even if your forecast is a little blown. In addition, say "mostly cloudy" instead of "cloudy" because the public will give you a pass if you are only slightly wrong. It's all about covering your bases.
I can go on and on, but if you follow these simple instructions, you will be a gloried meteorologist before long.
Updated: 10:39 PM GMT on October 20, 2009
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