“Don’t like the weather? Just wait a minute, it will change.”
“Don’t like the forecast? Change the station and find a forecast you like.”
“Must be nice to be wrong all the time and still get to keep your job.”
“__________________________.” (fill in your weather cliché here)
The forecast for my area this morning was, “Partly cloudy with a 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms.” Naturally, my phone started pinging with texts from the crew.
As much as we have to be weather watchers on a daily basis, I have come to realize that, to a crew member, a minimum 30 percent chance of rain on any given day translates into a feeling of “it’s supposed to rain today, and we’ll get rained out and get to leave early.” Then, of course, when it doesn’t rain, the weatherman is an idiot and a liar and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
I used to think that way myself. Especially when a forecast like this prompted me to make some sort of application that I wanted the rain to water in. Of course the rain wouldn’t come, and it was the weatherman’s fault.
But after having moved into an area where there are several casinos, I have finally come to associate the weather to the odds of weather happening. So a 30 percent chance of rain means there is a 70 percent chance of no rain — get it guys? So when there is less than an 80-something percent chance of rain, there is still a really good chance it won’t. So come to work.
And if you pay attention to the radar on a 30 percent chance day, you will see some passing rain clouds — those people got rain! But even in their case, was the weatherman right? Of course not! There was only a 30 percent chance of rain, so really there wasn’t supposed to be any. It’s a Catch-22.
Look at it this way: When the forecast calls for a 30 percent chance of rain, what that really translates into is this — only 30 percent of the broadcasting area has a chance to experience some precipitation, and most of you won’t. It really turns into a lose-lose situation for the forecaster who, (next cliché) gets paid all that money to be wrong all the time!
I just happened to swing into a local burger joint the other day about five minutes ahead of a huge downpour. The place was fairly busy, and I overheard a man from a table of about four couples say, “So how often is the weatherman right?” The rest of the table chimed in in sevenpart harmony, “Never!” I don’t know what forecast they listened to that day. I saw a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Odds were in the rain’s favor.
Back in the days before I had a moving Doppler radar in my pocket, we were scheduled to do some core aeration on fairways. I went to the owner, concerned that there was a chance of showers that day and the plugs on the fairways would turn to a muddy mess. Slowly he turned and looked out the window up at the sky. He turned back to me and in a tone of voice that was unique to his many days as a wise golf course owner said, “Well it isn’t raining right now, is it?” I took the hint, began the aerating project, and it never rained that day. Lesson learned.
I think we as a profession need to take pity on the people in the profession of weather forecasting. It is a job that is not unlike ours. We have to keep a sharp eye on day-to-day conditions. We have to be able to prioritize what is the next most important event. We have to be confident in our decision-making even in the face of constant criticism. If being a golf course superintendent is unique in this regard, I believe being a weather forecaster comes in a close second.
Move over Rodney Dangerfield. Forecast for tomorrow? 100 percent chance of weather.