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Random Thoughts

Weather or not

Hudson Cooper
Posted 1/7/22

Scientific exploration has come a long way since Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into space in 1961. Recently we put into orbit an Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer that will try to …

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Random Thoughts

Weather or not


Scientific exploration has come a long way since Alan Shepard became the first American to travel into space in 1961. Recently we put into orbit an Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer that will try to discern remnants of objects that might explain how our solar system evolved. Rovers with names like Perseverance, Opportunity, Spirit and Curiosity are zipping around Mars searching for signs of life.

Speaking of Curiosity, I am curious about why science can rarely accurately predict the weather even a few hours in advance. The reality is that there are so many fluctuating systems making it difficult to get it right. Torrential downpours predicted that made you cancel your summer plans to use your lawn ticket for a concert at Bethel Woods? Hours later, you poke your head out of your house to see a clear, starry sky with not even a raindrop in sight.

Broadcasters try to warn us of advancing weather by scrolling alerts along the bottom of your television screen. Most of us are unsure of the difference between a winter weather advisory or a winter weather warning. But they pop up frequently listing the relevant counties. The scroll posts advisories for Dutchess, Orange and Ulster counties as you hope they do not mention Sullivan. It also lists the time frame as if the forecasters are certain that the inclement weather will start at 3 p.m. and end at 11 a.m. the following day. You make phone calls to cancel your 4 p.m. pedicure. Hours later the time frame shifts to a 7 p.m. start time ending at 4 a.m. Back on the phone, you soon learn that your toenails will have to wait another day as someone grabbed your reservation.

Last week, looking forward to the weather forecast of a beautiful day, I woke up to a sunrise revealing a vivid red sky. It looked beautiful but immediately an old adage came to mind. I am not referring to “the early bird wakes up the worm” nor “the grass is always greener on the outside.”

The adage I recalled is often used by sailors such as Columbus, Captain Ahab and Popeye. I learned at an early age that sailormen, like those, knew that a “Red sky at night is a sailor’s delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.” Despite high-tech computer images used by forecasters, torrential rain and gale force winds attacked our county. The “red sky” adage dates to biblical times making an appearance in the book of Matthew.

There might be a more reliable way to deliver a forecast for our area. The easiest way to get the current weather in your area is to stick your head out the window. By doing so you can tell if it is hot or cold. You can also assess if there is any precipitation and if so, is it rain, sleet, hail or snow.

I suggest that we start getting our own local forecast from NEW. So, what’s NEW? NEW is an acronym for Neighbors Eyeballing Weather. Throughout Sullivan County, neighbors could sign up on a site to report on the weather in their area. If it is clear in Rock Hill but neighbors report rain in Livingston Manor and 30 minutes later in Liberty, then those in Monticello and Rock Hill might want to grab an umbrella before venturing out.

Of course, major weather events such as a tornado would be on televised alerts. The television screen would scroll a warning of a possible tornado in Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties from 1 p.m. until 11:30 p.m. However, members of NEW would get immediate knowledge if a tornado landed in Hurleyville if they got a text saying “just saw a tornado touch down as I left Casa Mia. Taking family into the root cellar with our chicken parmigiana.”

If NEW does not catch on perhaps the county can acquire some rovers like the ones on Mars. They could be refurbished to search for weather patterns instead of Martians.


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