It is being reported that a major snow storm is threatening to ravage New York City, and it very well might. The weather reports might be right. But what we seem to be able to erase from our communal memory every time a new big, scary snow storm approaches, is that, most of the time, the weather reports are wrong. Really, really wrong.
This past weekend, for example, the big snow storm that hit D.C. was also supposed to hit New York City. In the days leading up to the storm, every local news channel's lead story was the same hysteria-inducing weather reports, which all had titles like Accu-Tracker's StormWatch Report, or Doppler Weatherscan: Eye of the Storm. Not only do these titles sound more like excessively violent video games than simple weather forecasts, these logos were always presented in large, intimidating fonts and enhanced by scary graphics of lasers, lightning bolts and surrounded by aggressive-looking high-def clouds. If these logos alone weren't enough to convince you to drop everything, buy up all the water, flashlights and duct tape left in the city and go hide in your basement for the next three days, then maybe the weatherman's snowpocolyptic weather report will: "New York Snow Slam: Are you Ready?" "Weekend Storm Warning in NYC: Is this weekend's storm putting your children at risk?", "Up next...Blizzard Dangers: What you can do to be prepared", "Weather Safety Report: What you'll need to survive the storm". Every weather forecaster on every network was preaching about a Snowmageddon like some public access televangelist. However, unlike televangelists, TV weather people have a lot of high-tech-looking and scientific-sounding gear to back them up... Or, at least they seem to. Despite the fact that, with the exception of Al Roker, almost all weather forecasters look like they majored in Gym and minored in spray-tanning at whatever weather college they may claim to have attended, we're meant to believe that they are "scientists" with meteorological knowledge far too complicated for us weather-novices to understand. Their StormTracker forecasting system is presented as a complex scientific method so high-speed, high-res, high-def, and high-tech that it would be a waste of time to even try to explain it to the average viewer, so instead they just break it down into simpler, more straight-forward statements like, "The snow is coming, run for your lives!" And we do.
What was even more shocking than the pre-snowpocolyptic frenzy was the aftermath of The Storm. Not only was there no snow storm, but there wasn't even any snow. Not one freakin' flake. Upon realizing this, I immediately turned tuned in to my local news station, expecting some sort of explanation, some sort of recognition from my local Accu-weather forecaster that his forecast had been In-Accu, and that maybe he was sorry. But there was nothing. No apologies, no indication of embarrassment, nothing. And it was the same on every channel. The very meteorologists who, just twelve short hours ago, had been prophesizing a full-blown Snowmageddon were now just smiling and continuing on as if nothing had happened. They even had the gall to start warning me about another storm that would undoubtedly ravage the entire city sometime in the near future. I sat there in my apartment for the rest of the day, surrounded by jugs of water, flashlights, snow shovels, and duct tape, waiting for the apology that I knew deep down would never come.
I want to believe that TV weather people are not just evil, that they are just "following orders", and that, if given the opportunity, they would turn off all those accu-storm-trackers, step away from that digital weather map green screen for a moment, relax their twinkling smile, look humbly and directly into the camera and say, "I'm sorry." Well, until then, I am offering all of America's TV weathermen and women the next best thing: a TV Weatherperson Official Letter of Apology. Weather people: here is your quick n' easy chance to make things right! Just fill out the form below with your appropriate information and either e-mail it or print up and send it to anyone you feel you've harmed over the years with your careless and shamefully false predictions. Relieve yourself of all that pent-up guilt. Lift off the heavy shame of knowing that you have single-handedly ruined millions of family trips to the lake, ski weekends, outdoor birthday parties, weekend getaways, sports activities, weddings, festivals, dates, graduations, boat rides, car rides, and picnics, just to name a few. One TV Weatherperson Official Letter of Apology is not going to bring back the sunny day you promised little Billy for his 9th birthday party in the park, or young Jane's beautiful wedding, which was cancelled due to the thunderstorms you warned her about, but which never arrived. Give little Billy and poor young Jane the satisfaction of knowing that you, at the very least, admit your mistake and are sorry for what you did. Let the healing begin:
TV Weatherperson Official Letter of Apology
(Form to be completed by TV weatherperson only)
Dear _______________ (forecast victim(s)),
Words cannot express how deeply sorry I, _____________________ (your name), your local TV weatherman/woman, am for any anxiety, frustration and inconvenience I have caused you.
On __/___/____ (mm/dd/yy of false weather report), I inaccurately reported that the weather would be __________ (rainy, sunny, snowy, windy, balmy, mild), when it was actually__________ (rainy, sunny, snowy, windy, balmy, mild). Due to my inaccurate forecasting, your _______________ (wedding, birthday, funeral, weekend, vacation, picnic, graduation, party, car ride, general mood) was ruined, and I accept full responsibility for my careless actions.
I, _____________________, (your name), the weather____ (man, woman, person) at Channel ___ News in ____________, ___ (City, State) admit that meteorology is almost 100% bullsh*t. A bunch of monkeys throwing their own shit at a weather map would make more accurate predictions than my weather team. The high-tech weather simulations and flashy graphics are merely an effort to hide the fact that we have absolutely no idea what we're talking about. I'm not even really sure what a "meteorologist" is. I got my meteorology certification card free with my gym membership. To be honest, I just really, really like being on TV.
I, ______________________ (your name) cannot promise you that I will my weather forecasts will be more honest or accurate from now on. But as long as there are elevators and awkward silences, people will need to talk about the weather and, as long as they do, I will keep on giving them things to talk about, even if everything I say is complete bullsh*t, which, I, ______________________ (your name), hereby admit that it is.
Your local weatherman, _________________________ (your signature)