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The Meteorologists are Taking the Piss, Literally.

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Wildly Exaggerated: The Meteorologists are Taking the Piss, Literally.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Meteorologists are Taking the Piss, Literally.

There were about a billion things I loved about London, but my favorite morning pastime was watching the weather reports. Being from the US, I was accustomed to ridiculously detailed, number-intensive forecasts. I expected someone to tell me what the temperature would be at *every* hour throughout the day! I expected precise, localized statistics! Humidity! Highs and lows! Chance of precipitation! Windspeed and maximum anticipated gusts! The exact times I could expect sunrise and sunset! Barometric pressure, even though I have no idea what that is!

The weather reports we got in London were nothing like what I was used to. Obviously the temperatures were given in degrees centigrade, but that's easy enough to work out. What intrigued me were the vague descriptions of clouds - what colour (see what I did there?) they would be, whether or not any of them would rain, and if so, which ones. One morning, while I was visiting with my best friend, we heard a cheerful morning weatherman announce that there would be "some clouds over London [that day], and one of them would rain". I HAVE to believe he misspoke or we misheard him, but either way, we both agreed that this is what the man said. And we enjoyed a lovely day walking around London, pointing to clouds and speculating on whether that was the one that was going to rain. (Spoiler alert: if a cloud rained in London that day, we didn't see it.)

To be clear, I don't mean to mock our British friends. On the contrary, I effing LOVE the UK and would move there in a second if I could. Ask anyone. I suspect that the wildly different weather reporting is due to a variety of factors, including but not limited to the fact that their island is substantially smaller than our continent, and that the weather there is highly changeable (see: bordered by water on all sides, or "island"). And some of it is just plain cultural, I'm sure. We Americans are conditioned to expect information overload from our TV weathermen, and we will accept nothing less!

Or so I thought.

But sometime in the last year, the most breathtakingly asinine thing EVER happened, and they called it "The Wizometer".
As you can see, they contend that it's called the Wizometer because "WIZ" stands for "Weather Information Zone". I submit that it's actually called the Wizometer because whoever came up with it is taking a huge whiz on the collective brains of everyone in the metro Atlanta area. (NOTE: I realize that this joke is both unoriginal and just plain bad. But if they're going to set the joke up for us, we are morally obliged to keep making it until they end this madness.) This thing makes the "one cloud is gonna rain" approach look like an official NASA weather report. I genuinely thought it was a joke until I actually saw an 11Alive "meteorologist" referring to it with a straight face. Let's break it down, shall we?
What. The hell. Is this?
Point #1: The Wizometer goes up to 11. If this were a wry reference to Spinal Tap, I would say fair enough. But it isn't. It's just because the station is 11Alive, therefore the thing goes up to 11. You know why the whole "goes up to 11" thing was a joke in the first place? Because it is ridiculous to use 11 as the maximum number on any scale. There, I said it. It's even worse for being so blatant. Look at the screenshot above, where the elevens have been replaced with the station logo. Classy! This crap makes me want to kill myself, and I can't even coordinate my own clothes. I don't know how genuinely artsy people have survived looking at this train wreck on their TV screens day after day.

Point #2: These numbers are meaningless. As you can see on the so-called "5 Day Forecast" above, temperatures and chance-of-precipitation percentages are still displayed, albeit grudgingly and in much smaller/less attention-grabbing font than that of the Almighty Wizometer, blessed be its ridiculous name. So if that number doesn't tell me the temperature, or how cloudy the sky will be, why is it even there? My grandmother, who watches more of this crap than I do, said it was meant to be an indication of "how nice a day it will be". So in theory, a 1 on the Wizometer is a terrible day, and an 11 is a beautiful day! But that, too, is absurd. If I want to go ice skating, then below-freezing temperatures and precipitation = a perfect day. But if I want to spend a lazy weekend at the lake, 51/81 (listed as an 11 in the example above) won't be warm enough for my purposes. WHO GETS TO DECIDE WHAT CONSTITUTES A "GREAT" DAY?

Point #3: Atlanta already has a crime and violence problem.
ME: Hey, do you know what the weather's supposed to be like today?
11Alive Viewer: Six.
ME: (grabs 11Alive Viewer's copy of Eat Pray Love and beats her over the head with it)
C'mon 11Alive, be part of the solution.

Point #4: The Wizometer creates division and strife. As demonstrated in Point #3, by inventing their own little proprietary way of reporting what should simply be a dispassionate, objective series of numbers, 11Alive has ensured that their viewers will slowly become a population apart from the rest of the city. No longer able to discuss weather conditions with others, they will be rendered incapable of small talk at parties, or will sound like babbling idiots when they declare that "Tomorrow will be a 6 on the Wizometer!" No doubt some of them will think the proprietary weirdness of this system is a plus, as it means they'll get to explain it to the rest of us! To those people I say: "Do not try to explain the Wizometer to me unless you are wearing a helmet."

Point #5: The Wizometer is utterly superfluous. Who the hell demanded a new system of weather reporting anyway? We all know what the usual stats are, what they mean, and how to complain about them effectively. Was there a segment of the population that was overwhelmed by the quadruple-whammy of hearing the high, the low, the humidity, and the chance of precipitation for the day? Is there a moron somewhere in our fair city who was tearing his or her hair out screaming, "82 degrees...68 degrees...53%... WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? WHY CAN'T IT ALL BE BOILED DOWN TO ONE UNSCIENTIFIC NONSENSE TRADEMARKED NUMBER?" I mean, I've met some idiots in this city, but I still don't think this is plausible.

I just think we should let the meteorologists deal with the weather and keep the marketing department out of it. I will decide whether I think it'll be a great day or not, thanks.

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At May 27, 2011 at 11:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Wizometer is just the latest in the continual dumb down of America.It comes as no surprise on the heels of the Heat Index,and Wind Chill Factors.This is to be expected when the current pretty faces and hard bodies require no more than a day course to be "meteorologist certified".While we're at it,let's demand some accountability for all those wrong forecasts!Off with their talking heads!

At May 29, 2011 at 2:51 PM , Blogger roger said...

Thank for summarizing so well all the issues with this inane creation.


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