Friday, April 25, 2014

Talking about the weather

    Weather commentary and weather predictions are nearly all the same everywhere in the country. People regularly refer to rainy and snowy days as “bad weather” and sunny days as “good weather.” Media use graphics of smiling yellow suns that contrast with frowning clouds.
    The standard comments on weather by broadcasters and ordinary people are a travesty—an unacceptable distortion of reality in an epoch when that smiling sun is wreaking havoc in more ways than one.
    Every rainy or snowy day is not a bad day. In the West right now, every “bad weather” day is good because every inch of water that’s deposited in this water-starved region increases the chance that our ranges, forests and fields won’t be ravaged by major wildfires this summer.
    Every drop of rain and every flake of snow improve food crop yields that have declined dramatically in the West. They increase river flows, groundwater supplies and levels of manmade reservoirs that provide drinking water.
    Every cold day isn’t a bad day either. Scientists believe that very cold winters used to keep populations of Western bark beetles in check, beetles that have now decimated the West’s evergreen forests.
    Sun Valley-area businesses are still feeling the effects of the wildfire that wiped out two weeks of high-season business here last summer. They don’t want to see that repeated, and none would ever wish the experience on others.
    One regional broadcaster said this week that people would have to “endure” rain before “good” weather returned. Broadcasters and the rest of us need to change our scripts. Rain and snow are not to be endured, they’re to be welcomed.

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