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Jim Griffith Columnist

Published Sunday, February 03, 2013

Punish weatherman for bad forecast?

When weather forecasters are wrong, should they be punished?

It seems overly harsh to me. As the old saying goes, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody can do anything about it.”

However, in the Netherlands, upset and irritated tourist guides say, “When forecasters call for bad weather, visitors stay away and spend their money elsewhere, but when skies turn out to be sunny, the whole town loses revenue which it could have received.”

They insist that the weather man is responsible.

And furthermore, on a cloudy day which produces no rain, it is the same story. The sun may not get in their eyes, but visions of dollar bills flying away haunt them.

Still, I find it unjust to heap all the blame on the weatherman. Weather forecasting is better than it has ever been. Meteorologists go to school. Some earn a degree in the science of weather forecasting.

All of which means it is more accurate than ever before. Why, I can recall way back when all we had was radio. Every station seemed to have a staff announcer who looked out of the window at a thermometer and gave you the temperature.

So far as I know, there was little -- if any -- sophisticated weather forecasting equipment. I don’t know how true it is, but I was told one of the leading stations in the state had a “hairy weather dog.”

Early in the morning broadcast, they would put the dog out, and after a suitable time bring him back in and make their “scientific” report to the vast audience of listeners: If the dog was wet, it was a rainy day; and if dry, it was a fair and sunshiny day.

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