Monday, 29 December 2008

What Ever Happened To The Weather?

I don't mean this in the sense of "What's going on with the weather these days, where are all these tornadoes coming from?", I'm talking about the weather forecasts on TV.

With not having had a TV for a while, the last time I saw weather being presented by an actual person, it was Michael Fish with a big map of Britain and Ireland behind him, with weather symbols which he changed by pressing a little button which he held in his hand. Of course, he wasn't really standing in front of the map, he was in front of a blue screen onto which the map was digitally added afterwards, and if he wore a blue tie, you could see the west coast of Ireland through his middle. To a child of the 80's, this was all stunningly innovative; my formative introduction to the science of predicting forthcoming atmospheric conditions was via Wincey Willis and fuzzy felt. But you knew where you were with it, and you got the basic idea that the weather tomorrow was likely to be much the same as today, or perhaps a bit different.

But I happened to tune into the weather at my parents' house yesterday, and it was like an ill-advised cross between A-level geography and the Large Hadron Collider.

For a start, we were zooming about all over the place; I fully expected that if I pressed the red button on my remote control (which I first discovered during Christmas Day Top of the Pops, allowing my father and myself to sing along, much to my sister's disgust) it would fly right in to my own house and show me the current cloud cover. The rain clouds were actually raining, and the clouds were shown flying across the sky. It was like the internet, but on TV.

More disconcerting, however, was the presenter, who seemed to be on his own personal crusade to fight the nation's falling educational standards. We were gravely informed that the front currently in the Atlantic is stationary and we were invited to inspect for ourselves the predicted behaviour of the isobars. Now don't get me wrong, Michael Fish talked about isobars with the best of them, but only in a way that made you think he knew more than you and therefore should be believed, not in the sense of expecting you to understand and suggesting it as a topic for discussion at the dinner table.

Anyway, the weather today seems to be much the same as it was yesterday, so perhaps it's not as complex as it looks.

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