It’s that time of year when newspaper, television and radio station reporters tell you what to do if a hurricane should approach. It never changes: a broadcaster reporting from Home Depot standing in front of a stack of plywood earnestly letting you know that you need to plan your evacuation route; a newspaper article listing the foods you should stock or a radio DJ telling you to fill your bathtub to the brim.
Then there are the prognostications of the number of storms: “This year there will be 15 named storms, 5 of them major.” Those of us who have been around for a while are never surprised when the prognostications turn out wrong. As my father use to say, “Only a damn Yankee or a fool from Georgia would try to predict Florida weather.” Of course my dad was from Georgia and his next sentence would be a weather prediction.
When a storm begins to make its approach, television stations load up their mobile broadcasting trucks—you know, the white ones with the telescoping antenna—and head to the coast. The early broadcasts usually show a beautiful beach on a bright sunny day with a reporter voicing dire warnings of what is to come. Later, as the storm approaches the newshound, now dressed in a tropical rain suit, announces that it is raining and the wind is blowing hard. Duh!
My favorite storm broadcast took place as Hurricane Charley approached the coast north of Ft. Myers. Bundled in a rain slicker and hat—that appeared as if they were purchased for fishing in New England—in 90 mile per hour winds, the correspondent and his camera man broadcast from the parking lot of a motel. Just as he said, “Stay indoor, it is too dangerous to be outside.” a piece of metal nearly took off his head…bright, really bright.
I have always loved weather; I believe I could have been a meteorologist, if the one course I took in college had not been so difficult. I watch the weather forecast on television, listen to the weather on the radio and surf the weather sites on the Internet. And, like my father, I make weather predictions.
Nearly 40 years ago, in response to my comment about how cold it was, one of my father’s best friends—at that time well over his 80th year—told me that Florida’s weather was always at its worst when the moon is full. When I questioned his assertion, he informed me that for years he had observed the change occasioned by the moon and he challenged me to do the same. So over the years, especially in the winter, my predictions when the moon is full are almost always right: the weather is going to change. Of course, Terri reminds me that we live in Florida and the weather is always going to change.
The weather changes, time changes and we change. It is predictable that change is going to take place; what isn’t so obvious is how things are going to change. There are always those who pontificate about what the future will bring; lately, it seems the “talking heads” all expound on how miserable it will be. Listen to the news for only a few minutes and you will hear about global warming, the collapse of the economy and some third-rate power acquiring the atomic bomb. Years ago Hearst discovered that bad news sells papers; now, with our 24/7 news cycle, the media competes to increase audience by reporting grim stories about the near and distant future.
We all have opinions and most of us are not hesitant to express them. However, no one can accurately predict what the future will bring; even the best weatherman is hesitant to make a prediction more than 7 days in advance. So, like my father—the “fool” from Georgia—I believe only a damn Yankee or a fool from Georgia will try to predict the future or Florida’s weather.
“One need only think of the weather, in which case the prediction even for a few days ahead is impossible.” -Albert Einstein
A Frigid Weather Prediction
It was autumn, and the Indians on the remote reservation asked their new Chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a new Indian Chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets, and when he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the weather was going to be. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect wood to be prepared. But also being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked,”Is the coming winter going to be cold?” “It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed,” the meteorologist responded.
So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared. A week later he called the National Weather Service again.
“Is it going to be a very cold winter?” “Yes,” the meterologist again replied, “it’s going to be a very cold winter.”
The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find. Two weeks later he called the National Weather Service again.
“Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?” “Absolutely,” the man replied. “It’s going to be one of the coldest winters ever.” “How can you be so sure?” the Chief asked. The weatherman replied, “The Indians are collecting wood like crazy!”