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About the Weather, Man

Hudson Cooper - Columnist
Posted 2/11/21

If you get your local news from one of the major networks, you will notice one constant. When it comes to the weather report, regardless of the season, Sullivan County is usually the last place they …

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About the Weather, Man

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If you get your local news from one of the major networks, you will notice one constant. When it comes to the weather report, regardless of the season, Sullivan County is usually the last place they mention.

Well not the whole county; the highlighted burb is Monticello. To quote James Taylor, “Winter, Spring, Summer or Fall all you got to do is call” and you will see that Monticello is always 10 degrees colder than any part of our section of the state. Nobody seems to know why Monticello was chosen as the bellwether of seasonal temperatures in our neck of the woods.

Maybe a weathermen had fond memories of spending summers at Camp Wel-Met or working as a busboy at The Concord. Speaking of necks, the word bellwether refers to the old English practice of placing a bell around the neck of the ram leading a flock of sheep.

Years ago, noted comedian George Carlin portrayed an entire television news team in one of his routines. My favorite was named Al Sleet, “the hippie dippy weatherman bringing to you the hippie dippy weather, man.” Little did he realize that years later many television weather forecasters would also have real names ideal for their profession.

A partial list includes Storm Field, Amy Freeze, Sonny Daye, Dallas Raines, Larry Sprinkle, Ken Weathers and Raynor Scheine. All are weather forecasters except for Raynor Scheine who is an actor in such movies as “My Cousin Vinny” and “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective.”

You might have noticed that I used the word “forecasters.” Anybody with a snappy voice, eye-catching wardrobe and a knowledge of how to read a teleprompter can be a weather forecaster.

But if you really want to “get your feet wet” in the business, enrollment in a school to learn how to be a meteorologist is necessary. Their education uses scientific principles to observe the earth's atmospheric conditions to predict the weather.

Reporting the weather on television has changed almost as much as the televisions themselves. The first televised weather report occurred on October 14th in 1941. Emanating out of New York City it was far different from today's broadcast.

It featured a cartoon character named “Woolly Lamb.” The segment only contained general predictions that extended about a day and a half. You probably could get the same result by sticking your head out the window.

During World War II B-29 pilots delivered jet stream reports used to predict weather patterns. Eventually radar was used to predict storms.

As television became the source of entertainment and news in the 1950's, weather report segments of the nightly news tried to become entertaining. The segments contained crazy stunts and elaborate costumes. Eventually to attract a larger male viewership, some stations hired women known as “weather girls” who broke into what was once an exclusive domain of men.

Today's broadcasts are extremely high tech. What started out as hand drawn maps have segued into multi-level computer images. Meteorologists can track storms minute to minute. Although atmospheric conditions change, they can come close to predicting the weather a week ahead.

Watching today's modern weather forecasters is both informative and entertaining. They all look like they enjoy the job. Taking delight when they are correct and rarely apologizing when they miss by a mile, it seems like a good profession.

If I produced the weather report segment, I would make a change. The weather report would be delivered from a set located outside, perhaps on the roof. Regardless of the weather, the forecasters would be experiencing the real deal. Sure, they would utilize those fancy computer maps, but they would do so holding an umbrella or leaning on a snow shovel.

I would like a job like that. I might study meteorology someday. Then, changing my name to Harry Kaine, I would forecast the weather, man.

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