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ANN BAILEY: Take weather forecasts with grain of salt

An oft-repeated saying of North Dakotans goes something like this: "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few hours and it will change." Because the weather is so unpredictable, Herald reporters know that when they write a story about a seem...

Ann Bailey

An oft-repeated saying of North Dakotans goes something like this: "If you don't like the weather, just wait a few hours and it will change."

Because the weather is so unpredictable, Herald reporters know that when they write a story about a seemingly impending storm on "X" evening, the weather on "Y" morning when readers pick up the paper may not look anything like what was forecasted. In fact, I think it's Murphy's Law that the more the news media hypes up a storm, the bigger it fizzles.

The lead time on the storms -- and the buildup -- seems to be growing as weather technology improves and allows forecasters to predict further into the future. A few weeks ago, for example, I was talking to someone who was doing some work for us on the farm when he mentioned that he had heard that there was a storm predicted for early November.

As someone who has to drive back and forth 60-plus miles round trip five days a week to work, I like being on top of the weather. But, on a warm, blue-skied October day, I didn't need to know, nor did I want to know, that it may storm in three weeks.

A day at a time

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Instead, I wanted to enjoy each lovely fall day that passed. And I did.

My family and I worked and played outside as much as we could every day. We finished stocking up on horse hay for the winter, mulched leaves with the lawnmower and watched some outdoor high football games, mostly under cloudless skies and without wearing winter gear.

I forgot about the storm forecast until this past week when it started appearing on the Herald website, and newspaper and disc jockeys started talking about it on the radio. As I write this column, weather forecasters are telling us that a significant weather system could hit this weekend.

Or not.

As I write this the forecasters are pretty sure that some sort of weather system will hit, they're not sure whether the precipitation will be in the form of rain or snow, or both and which locations will get the brunt of it. Several days before the "event" was predicted to be upon us, the weather gurus didn't really have a whole lot more details than they did a few weeks ago.

Living in the moment

That observation isn't meant to be a criticism of the meteorologists. I think they do a fine job of forecasting, given the capriciousness of the weather. Rather, I'm saying that I think it's a waste of time and energy to get too worked up about the weather days or weeks before the storm or other phenomena occurs. As long as I'm warned far enough in advance of a snowstorm to know that I should leave or go to work before it hits, I'm satisfied.

Knowing any earlier won't affect me one way or another and I refuse to not enjoy the weather that I'm experiencing while I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Instead, I intend to enjoy the good weather we're having. If and when the rain/snow storm hits, I'll deal with it. As a native North Dakotan, I'm used to weathering the weather.

Related Topics: FAMILYWEATHER
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