When my youngest daughter was about 5 she pronounced angrily, “I think the weather people just LIE.” I don’t recall the specific incident that prompted her tirade. No doubt some activity she had been anticipating had been unexpectedly rained out. Truthfully, the experience of being misled by a weather forecast is pretty common– common enough to spawn such wry remarks as: “Weather forecasting is only occupation in which you can be wrong 50% of the time and keep your job.”
But personally, I’m impressed that meteorologists get it right as often as they do.
Take Sunday for example. The forecast was for a cool, wet and windy day all around. And yet we walked out the door in the early morning to blazing sun and blue sky. My immediate thought was ,”They got it wrong.” But a second look revealed a small patch of dark clouds on the horizon. I decided to go for my walk first thing, just in case the predicted rain materialized after all.
In the space of half an hour the sky underwent a complete transformation. There was a point where I could actually stand in one spot and, by adjusting the angle of my shot by less than 180 degrees, capture both skies:
The transformation was swift and dramatic– and nothing I could have predicted from looking at the sky an hour earlier. And yet someone had predicted it hours, even days before.
I know just enough about meteorology to appreciate how very little I know, and so it seems almost magical to me that someone could make such a prediction. And yet it’s not magic. You or I could do the same with the right tools and knowledge.
Just because a change isn’t obvious to the naked eye doesn’t mean it’s not coming. Sometimes the clouds roll in quickly and catch you unawares.
And sometimes they are there in plain sight in all their stormy blackness, and you walk out blindly into them all the same.
I got home from my Sunday walk well in time to dodge the downpour. A few days earlier, I was not so lucky. Or rather, not so smart. I could see that a storm was brewing. I could easily have found a place nearby to grab a coffee and wait it out. I could have gone back to the bus shelter. But instead, I stubbornly decided that I would try to make it home across the park before the storm broke.
If I had really thought about it, I would have been capable of reasoning that the storm was much closer than the half-hour it would take me to walk home. In this case the signs were obvious and I knew how to read them. But I chose to ignore them, and sure enough I was about halfway home and far from any form of shelter when the deluge hit.
Since I really had no one to blame for my predicament but myself, I scarcely deserved what happened next. A small red car appeared out of nowhere and pulled up beside me. Two young women– complete strangers to me — invited me to hop in. I hesitated for barely a second before swallowing my pride and climbing, dripping all the way, into the back seat. They went way out of their way and drove me to my door. I didn’t even get their names.