Specificity, to be specific

A quick glance at today’s forecast became a several minute event when I read the following:

ISOLATED THUNDERSTORMS ARE EXPECTED TODAY AND THIS EVENING OVER
ABOUT THE SOUTHWESTERN TWO THIRDS OF MIDDLE TENNESSEE...AND A FEW
OF THOSE STORMS COULD BECOME STRONG TO SEVERE...WITH GUSTY
WINDS...HAIL AND HEAVY DOWNPOURS.

It went on to say there was only a 30% chance of this developing.  And, from the statement above, it (apparently) will be centered in one particular area.

The problem is…I’m not sure where that one particular area is.

The problem is what turned a second’s glance into a multi-minute glare.”

The problem? The specificity of the advisory – that’s the problem.

“…the southwestern two thirds of middle Tennessee…” – where exactly IS that?

I know what part of middle Tennessee is included in the southwestern designation – but what’s up with the “two thirds”?

Specificity in forecasting and weather advisory is a good thing – it can provide fast, easy information that says YES this is for your area, or NO it’s not.

But…sometimes specificity can muddy the clarity of the matter.

If you’re in the southwestern two thirds of middle Tennessee…heads up.  If you’re in the remaining southwestern 1/3 (and I assume you know who you are)…no worries.

Partly Cloudy

The forecast read “Partly Cloudy” and immediately my mood shifted to one of grrr…I wanted sunshine.

And, I planned my “partly cloudy” winter day accordingly.  Instead of working outside in the 45° weather, I would work inside. After all, every one knows 45° with clouds is far different than 45° with bright sun.

If only the sun would shine….  That was my sigh.

And, so I busied myself indoors while my heart dreamed of outdoor work and I griped about life’s lot that I’d drawn for the day.

At one point I ventured out to the garage with a load of dirty clothes.  45° felt…warm. The sun in my eyes made me squint.

I glanced at the sky and saw only thin wisps of clouds.

“I thought the forecast was for partly cloudy skies,” I muttered to myself.

PARTLY cloudy. That means to some extent, but, it doesn’t specify to what extent.

Why didn’t the forecast say “Mostly Sunny?”

If I’d received a more positive forecast, would my outlook on the day have been more positive and far different in my attitude and actions?

Why did I choose to focus on the negative and not the positive??

Hmm….

“Partly cloudy” leaves the door open to “mostly sunny.”  So, why did I slam it shut and pull the blinds against the light?

Perception is everything, from what I hear, and apparently there’s some validity to that.

From here on out, I plan to look at things in a different light.  Partly cloudy will provide opportunity for mostly sunny.

And, I’m going to live a mostly sunny lifestyle.

What about you?  Are you willing to change your perception and watch your perspective change as a result?

Wow!  Things are looking brighter for me already!

Give it a try and let me know how adopting a mostly sunny outlook changes your forecast!

5 Days Below Freezing

To say I’m ready for Spring would be an understatement.

As the days lengthen, I find my thoughts turning more and more toward outdoor activities and plans for those activities.

Gardening (a vegetable garden as well as flower beds), yard work, walking…all these and more call to me, especially when the temperature is forecast to rise high enough for me to venture out for several hours of sustained activity.

Just such a day was forecast yesterday.  It hadn’t rained in several days and the temperature had been above freezing for at least as long.  The ground was thawed and the high was forecast to be in the mid 60’s. Perfect weather to dig the garden I plan here in my backyard.

A day of outdoor activity was planned and I excitedly rose to greet the sunshine and move my morning quickly toward activity outside.

A quick look at our forecast for the remainder of the week stopped me dead in my tracks.  There was a special weather statement.

...LONG PERIOD OF BELOW FREEZING TEMPERATURES EXPECTED THIS WEEK...

What? When did this come about?  Why didn’t I know of this earlier? I check the weather and forecast several times a day…how did this slip up on me?

The special weather statement went on to say:

AN ARCTIC COLD FRONT WILL MOVE THROUGH THE MID STATE ON
TUESDAY...BRINGING A PROLONGED PERIOD OF SUBFREEZING TEMPERATURES
TO MIDDLE TENNESSEE. TEMPERATURES ARE EXPECTED TO REMAIN BELOW
FREEZING ACROSS MUCH OF THE MID STATE FOR UP TO 5 DAYS FROM
TUESDAY THROUGH SATURDAY. LOWS IN THE SINGLE DIGITS AND TEENS ARE
EXPECTED EACH DAY...WITH HIGHS ONLY REACHING THE 20S AND 30S.
GUSTY WINDS WILL MAKE IT FEEL EVEN COLDER AT TIMES...WITH WIND
CHILLS DOWN TO NEAR ZERO BY THURSDAY AND FRIDAY.

…below freezing for up to 5 days…YIKES!

As I sipped my first cup of coffee, I pondered what that meant for my Monday plans.  And, I growled a soft “grrrr” at the interruption as well as at the returning cold temperatures.

Nothing I could do about either – no point in wasting energy on what I couldn’t help or change.  Energy and activity needed to be invested in what mattered.

In what mattered….

What did matter?

Focus changed when I began to ponder that question.

What does matter? To you…right now?

Why does it matter?

You may find that your focus changes when you take time to ponder those questions.

Weatherman Confidence

Justin, of WKRN’s weather team, gave me a giggle when I read his online forecast for today and tomorrow.

At the end of his brief narriative of what was expected, he added:

Areas that see snow (which won’t be everyone) may pick up a quick coating to a half-inch of snow, but our confidence in widespread accumulation isn’t very high.

I can remember when confidence in weather forecasting was anything less than something to have confidence in. In fact, if the weatherman said “no accumulation” you knew to set out the rock salt and snow boots.

Bob Lobertini, weatherman for WLAC way back when I was a sprout, got it wrong more often than he got it right.  But, he was a popular personality on air and around town and everyone loved him, or loved to hate him.

And, it was Lobertini who opened my eyes and heart to the wonders of weather.  With his limited ability to forecast – remember, this was back in the (19)50’s and 60’s when they didn’t have all this radar imagery and satellite coverage – he did what he could to alert us to changing weather, and he made it fun and interesting at the same time.

I developed a keen interest in weather and learned to watch weather patterns – a hobby that occupies me even now.

In the 70’s Lobertini left our area and moved to California.  My dad said that was a good place for him…the weather was either sunny and cool, foggy and cool, or rainy and cool…depending on the time of day it was and the season. It would be hard to get it wrong.

I hated to see him go.  It was like losing a childhood friend. His was a familiar face.   I trusted him.

In Lobertini’s absence, I ventured away from dependence upon someone else’s thoughts about what the forecast would be and learned about weather patterns. This was before the advent of internet and personal computers and required actual book work and library visits.

I thought I had died and gone to Heaven when I discovered The Weather Channel and NOAA Weather.

With the arrival of The Weather Channel (TV and online) and NOAA Weather (online and radio), forecasting days in advance and hour to hour for the next 24 hours is possible.

However, it’s still a lot of guesswork the farther you get from “let me look out and see what the weather is doing.”

And, that is reflected in Justin’s comment: “our confidence in widespread accumulation isn’t very high.”

Even with all the high tech weather doo dads, it’s still a lot of guess work, and when it all comes down to what the weather’s going to do…we all have to wait and see.

Just so you know…after reading Justin’s comment…my boots stand by the front door and my container of rock salt graces my kitchen table.

Just saying….

Dogwood Winter

Monday morning, as Hubby and I walked in dawn’s early light, I noticed the local dogwood trees were sporting a little color and I suggested we were in for a cold snap later this week.

I knew the buds were larger Sunday afternoon, but no color was noted and I assumed it would be several days before they began to relax and open and a few beyond that before the petals began to grow and lengthen.

But, warm nights and warmer days tend to speed things along and each day I noticed the color becoming more prominent and changing from a dark creamy off-white to a clearer/cleaner white.

Dogwood Winter couldn’t be far off and all it took was a glance at the forecast to know that a cold snap was set for this week’s end with temperatures dipping to the upper 30s at night and dancing around 60 in the daytime.

Redbud Winter is past.  Dogwood Winter is upon us.

I smile as I watch life emerge around me, as I feel the brisk air and the warmth of the sun, as I hear Spring’s impromptu jam session swinging in the tree tops.  🙂

Enough

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR WAS TRACKING A [sic] SEVERAL STRONG THUNDERSTORMS ACROSS NORTHWEST MIDDLE TENNESSEE. STORM MOVEMENT WAS NORTHEAST AT 45 MILES AN HOUR. HALF INCH SIZE HAIL…AND WINDS AROUND 40 MPH ARE EXPECTED WITH THIS STORM.

I knew storms were expected today.  100% chance was the forecast.  I knew some could be severe.

But, apparently I forgot: severe storms can bring hail.

Upon seeing the above mentioned weather statement, I headed outside to bring into shelter whatever was out there that I didn’t want damaged by hail – or blown about by wind.

It was the hail that concerned me the most.  This area is notorious for receiving hail damage.  The number of new roofs and siding on the houses is evidence enough.

In came potted plants, lawn chairs, a wheeled yard/work bucket…. Out remained pots too large to move, too heavy to carry – a cherished rosebush I’d moved our past 3 moves – and, of course, numerous ground-rooted things now in full bloom.

With a backward glance and a sigh, I headed indoors – I could only do what I could do and I had done that.

And, that would have to be enough.

Forecast

Snow.

Beginning tonight, snow is in the forecast until Saturday evening.

As February morphs into March, the prognosticators predict snow will fall.

Slight chance.  Chance.  Possibility.  Likely. Probable.  These are the terms the forecasters use to describe their best guess (based on information, past experience, logic, computer analysis, etc.) as to whether or not we will receive snow and when.

Along with the terms listed above, percentages are given.

Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 70%Snow Likely Chance for Measurable Precipitation 60%

  • 30% slight chance of snow, low of 33
  • 30% chance of snow, high of 40
  • 20% chance of snow, low of 33
  • 40% chance of snow, high of 39
  • 70% likelihood of snow, low of 29
  • 60% probability of snow, high of 37
  • 20% slight chance of snow, low of 25
  • 0% no chance, high of 39

I’m from the South and I’ll admit it gets my attention when snow is mentioned in the forecast Wednesday night, Thursday, Thursday night, Friday, Friday night, Saturday and Saturday night.  Those little pictures of clouds with snow falling out of them grab me every time and I return time and again to see what the forecasters say and if the forecast has been updated.

There’s a different way to look at things, of course, but even though it’s just as accurate,  it’s no where near as exciting.

Would you return time and again to the forecast below?

  • 70% likelihood of no measurable precipitation, low of 33
  • 70% likelihood of no measurable precipitation, high of 40
  • 80% probability of no measurable precipitation, low of 33
  • 60% likelihood of no measurable precipitation, high of 39
  • 30% chance of no measurable precipitation, low of 29
  • 40% chance of no measurable precipitation, high of 37
  • 80% probability of no measurable precipitation, low of 25
  • 100% assurance of no measurable precipitation, high of 39

I wouldn’t and doubt you would either.

Weather forecasters provide a “7 day outlook” in which they express their opinions of what the next 7 days will look like weather wise.

When you woke this morning – what was forecast for your day?

Was it 50% probability of rain? Or, was it 50% likelihood of clear sky with bright sun?

What was the outlook for your week ahead?

We often can’t do anything about the forecast.  And, we often can’t change what is or the chance of what will be. Some things are simply out of our hands and beyond our ability.

But, we can change our way of looking at things – our perspective…our outlook.  We can choose to see the 80% chance of sunshine and plan for and live in that forecast, and not plan our day around the 20% (slight) chance of rain.

Red Morn, Sailors Scorn

This morning I woke to an odd red glow.

The back of our house faces SE/S/SW, so our bedroom windows receive sunlight most of the day in the winter, with one of the windows receiving first light as the sun rises.

First light this morning was red.

Red light is not the first light one expects to see upon waking.

My mind immediately went into alert mode.  Red = warning.

I jumped from bed, peeked through the blind covering the window and saw a beautiful red sunrise turning wispy gray clouds a delightful shade of crimson.

A smile lit my face.

And, then a frown.

A phrase came to mind, “Red at night, sailor’s delight. Red in the morning, sailors take warning.” And, a quip I’d read last night did, too. It’s underlined.

The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven.He replied, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.A wicked and adulterous generation looks for a sign, but none will be given it except the sign of Jonah.” Jesus then left them and went away. (Matthew 16: 1-4 NIV)

A quick check of today’s forecast revealed…you guess it – 100% chance of RAIN today.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could simply peek out the window and check early morning signs in the sky to know what the day holds for us?

On second thought – we might be more inclined to turn over and hide from what lies ahead than to grab an umbrella and bravely head out into it.