Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Spring Cleaning

There's still around four weeks of Summer to be enjoyed before Fall officially begins. Then the days will start being shorter than the nights. Three months of Fall, and then Winter begins on the shortest day of the year. After the Winter Solstice, the nights will get shorter and the days longer, until another season ends in the Spring.

Every Fall groomers wrap up their summer jobs, or vacations, and start readying their Winter programs. Once the World Series is played, baseball goes into hibernation until Spring, and I start to plan for the upcoming season in earnest. Job Fairs, phone calls to the Crew, visits to the Mountain and the Vehicle Shop...catching up, making plans, making back-up plans.

My mom is doing some "Spring Cleaning" too. My Dad passed away in Spring a year ago. Mom's cleaning up his stuff, making sure it goes where it should, to family members to whom it will mean plenty. The rest she boxes carefully and donates to charity. Today she's going thru some bookshelves, looking to donate or redirect the tomes to the right places. She found a old letter she thought might be of interest to TruckeeDave.

The paper was typed, four single-sided pages, with a chart and a table. It said:
"INCREASE PROFITS WITH ACCURATE WEATHER FORECASTS" It was written by an Agricultural Climatology Professor from Purdue University, and the Director of Research, American Farm Research Association, West Lafayette, Indiana. The yellowing paper was dated October 29, 1963

My Maternal Grandfather was a Family Farmer in Park County, Indiana. He practiced "Scientific Farming" according to my mother, and he worked often with Purdue University. Grandpa often hosted Purdue students, while they studied Agriculture and it's many facets. They learned from the farmer in the field, and he in turn learned the latest scientific trends in farming from the college students and their professors. I visited "The Farm" several times when I was little, but once I was a teenager, the visits ended, for whatever reason. I hold "The Farm" as the symbol, whenever I hear Family Farm, Family Farmers, and the like.

I've often told my mom that Ski Resorts are just like farms...we're totally dependent on the Weather, and barring that, what little science we have developed to cope with less than optimum weather. Our crop is called "Skier Visits", our fertilizer, Marketing.

Grandpa's Weather Paper was a short compendium on local weather forecasting. The first paragraph was homey, though:

"Grandpa (that's the generic grandpa, not my Grandfather) could often predict the weather with uncanny ability. From careful observations over the years he learned that a certain sequence of weather changes meant fair or foul weather. However, he knew that his predictions were, at the very best, only educated guesses."

"Today, thanks to weather observers with modern equipment and good communications, you don't have to guess about tomorrow's weather. The official forecast coupled with your own interpretation of local conditions enables you to predict tomorrow's weather even better than Grandpa could. This will mean greater profits because you can schedule important work, both indoors and in the field, on the basis of the weather prediction. Furthermore, you'll enjoy the weather, both good and bad, because you predicted it"

It all seemed so simple then, homespun, almost easy...forty-six years ago we had not even begun to depend on satellites, computers were still as large as houses, and TV was just turning Colors.

Truth is, "Grandpa" was "predicting" the weather in the interior of North America, far from the fury of ocean systems, and the mountain ranges that wring our weather from those Pacific Storms. In the middle of the country, their excitement comes in the spring when the warm tropical systems meet cold Canadian systems and spawn tornado outbreaks...that's NOT so easy.

Every fall I start paying close attention to the weather forecasts again. Each fall I start spending part of every day clicking through the internet, checking Zone Forecasts, AFD Discussions, Remote Sensors, and Online Weather Stations. My Weather Bookmark Folder has 36 websites in it. Every fall I spend a long afternoon "refreshing" all these Bookmarks. A good two thirds of the sites I visited daily last season don't exist, or point to a webpage that is totally different than last year.

You hear much these days about Government Bureaucracies and Federal Inertia...Big Gray Government Monoliths obscuring the world from the gaze of The People...Don't believe it! (Not when you're talking about the National Weather Service!) The Federal webmasters are always in motion, the NWS websites change faster than Sierra Nevada Winter Weather!

Every other "Weather Geek" I know has their own concoction of weather sites and online tools that help them be satisfied with the day to day weather stories, and specifics.

When the days get shorter, after I've done my Spring Clean-Up, I'll post a list of the Websites I rely on...however, I won't bother until November. I only want to do this chore once a season!

I have spent that long afternoon, cleaning out and updating my Weather Bookmarks, every year since I started using the internet as my primary weather tool...somewhere about 10-12 years ago, at least.

This chore serves to remind me that our Earth is moving through Space, and we are moving through time on that Earth, and that We ought to make the best of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment