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pantodragon

Weather forecasting for dummies

54 posts in this topic

There are easy ways to do things and there are hard ways to do things. In modern society, everything is done the hard way. No wonder, therefore, that people become old and decrepit before their time. That’s one of the consequences of always finding the hardest, most cumbersome, difficult, backbreaking, arduous and laborious way of doing things.

Take weather forecasting, for example. Like everything else in life, there is an easy way to forecast the weather and a hard way.

The EASY Way:

The easy way is by DIVINATION. (Oh p-lease, spare me the howls of incredulous laughter --- it only betrays ignorance and stupidity!)

Here’s how divination works for me: if I want a short term forecast I go out the back door and look at the birds. For a long term forecast, well, I have to wait until it arrives. (I’ve already received my long term forecast for next winter.)

Short term weather forecasting is accomplished, as I said, by observing the birds. Here’s a sample:

Flocks of crows means heavy cloud cover probably with heavy rain and wind. Water birds e.g. ducks, oyster catchers, gulls etc, indicate rain. Pigeons indicate clear spells. Flocks of crows interspersed with pigeons flying past means heavy cloud etc, with clear spells in-between. If I hear geese at night, then I can expect low cloud or fog.

Last winter I received a four week forecast from an owl (well, not in person, of course). When I see or hear an owl, this interprets as a short cold snap of one day or so followed by a longer period of milder weather. One night when driving home at dusk, I stopped the car to watch a barn owl hunting along the hedgerow. Instead of flying off the bird flew just ahead of the car, alighting on fence posts every so often. I followed the owl for nearly 10 minutes. I interpreted this as a weather pattern of short cold snaps followed by milder weather --- and that is exactly what happened.

Last winter’s long term forecast was received in September. Reading a number of novels in quick succession, the phrase “late snows” (occurring in each of the novels) jumped out at me. In my part of the world, we did indeed have late snows and a cold spring. My long range weather forecast for the winter before last was also correct.

FAQs:

How do I know which birds to pick out from the mass or which words/phrases in books to pick out from the mass? Intuition. Divination will not work for you unless, among many other things, your intuition is well developed. Too bad that rules out readers of this piece, then, eh?

The HARD Way:

The hard way is by METEOROLOGY.

Obtain a university degree in meteorology, computer science etc, etc --- 3 or 4 years of backbreaking, mind-numbing, tedious SLOG. Get a job at the Met. Office.

Write weather modelling software. Plug in all the data gathered “since records began” and start up the computers --- rooms full of the damn things in a sterile, dust-free environment. Spend hours upon hours upon hours de-bugging and fine-tuning software until results moderately satisfactory. Of course, when software and/or hardware out of date, must be upgraded --- more hours upon hours upon hours of tedious, painstaking, mind-numbing slog.

Send satellites into earth orbit to gather colossal quantities of data.

Litter the planet with little weather stations (or weather balloons or sensors etc, etc). Have some poor sods record daily wind speeds, temperatures, precipitation, hours of sunshine, collate results and return to relevant Met. Office for processing. (And I’ve done that. Talk about mind-numbing!)

All this goes on day after day, month after month, year after year --- this vast weather machine, a gigantic mill, eternally and inexorably grinding and churning and pounding and pulverising the increasing and gargantuan quantities of data that feed it, tended lovingly by its slaves, the meteorologists, whose period of servitude results in nothing more than their accelerated decrepitude.

Geez – modern meteorology is so PRIMITIVE!!!!!

What do you think?

PS: “For mash get Smash!” I’m the aliens, you’re the earthlings, and I’m splitting my sides laughing at your primitive methods.

PPS: For more on Divination, see my blog.

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Posted (edited)

When taking a plane journey, i'll stick with them assessing things through tried and tested data collection instead of your intuition. Call me old fashioned but I prefer hard facts over guessing any day, thanks.

Edited by Sky Scanner
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I feel that birds may have an intuition for rain. When you have your long term winter forecast developed for your area, let me hear it. We can then compare your forecast with how things turn out. I have a similar model of determining rain. The difference is it is with a dog. If my dog smells like a sour dish rag, I know it just rained.

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I worked in Meteorology Canada for a spell. I thought it was fun. (I was trying to model the flow of sea ice based on satellite data, so I didn't really have to make day-by-day predictions, but I think making a model based on past events, using that model to make predictions about the future, then waiting to see what happens is enjoyable.)

I actually agree that you can probably get better qualitative forecasts about the weather by observing nature.

But meteorologists are trying to do more than that; they are trying to predict how much rain will fall, what speed the wind will blow, how hot the day will be, etc.

And yes, because their predictions are so specific (``scatter showers, 2-4 mm of rain, from 4 pm to 6 pm'' as opposed to ``today it will rain'') they are often wrong. But they are getting better.

I really find your posts perplexing, pantodragon. You say it yourself:

How do I know [...] Intuition. Divination will not work for you unless, among many other things, your intuition is well developed.

And I agree completely.

But intuition is, at least partly, a product of experience.

How will large, sprawling urban centres, millions of tonnes of smoke and CO2 from factories and cars, aggressive farming, foresting, and fishing, influence Earth's environment?

This sort of thing has never happened on Earth before, how can one expect to form an accurate intuitive answer?

Maybe data-crunching and computer modelling isn't such a bad thing.

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What if there are no birds around? The intelligent way would probably be more effective, but that wouldn't be found in any of your topics.

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Another one is Ants, apparently when you see a little dirt mound outside an ant hole that means a storm is coming.

Another one is putting a flag up or a wind direction thing (those little windmill things on top of houses)

Or look at the clouds change shape.

But the Easist way is good for short term, for a couple of hours

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I call for Michael Fish as prime minister!

fish.jpg

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If I want a short-term forcast I go out my back door and look at the sky. I'm quite familiar with cloud formations, and it's pretty obvious when a storm is coming my way. Then I look at weather radar. Here I can actually see the movement of the whole storm as it nears my location. This method is easy for me.

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I feel that birds may have an intuition for rain. When you have your long term winter forecast developed for your area, let me hear it. We can then compare your forecast with how things turn out. I have a similar model of determining rain. The difference is it is with a dog. If my dog smells like a sour dish rag, I know it just rained.

Hahaha the old weather Rock routine. If my magic weather rock is wet it's raining, if it's dark it's cloudy, if it's light it's sunny, if it's cold to the touch is cold if it's hot then it's hot. It's a very incredible Rock.

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Hi Panto. Are you willing to take the challenge? Tell us your location and provide some short, medium and long term predictions based on your intuitive technique. These can then be compared to your official met service forecast; and both measured against the actual weather that occurs.

Are you up for it?

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Maybe the owl was landing on fence posts because you were interrupting his hunt by following him for 10 minutes. Just sayin'

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While I am down for divination when it comes to one's personal preference (specifically if the person shows a talent for it), when it comes to predicting things for people overall, meteorology is the winner. Why? Decades worth of science and demonstratable accuracy should not be dismissed. Are meteorologists wrong at times? Of course they are! The weather is a chaotic system, affected by a variety of determinants at any given time. The thing is that the shorter the forecast, the more accurate they are; A forecast on Sunday for Monday and Tuesday will probably be very accurate, but go further down the line and the chance for error increases (meteorologists base their down-the-line forecasts on probabilities as are themselves based on current conditions). Besides, the specifics for such things as wind and inches of rain have a margin (why do you think they say 15-30 mph winds instead of just 15 or 4-7 inches of rain instead of something like 4.2...they have a good idea about what the numbers might be, but they obviously can't be absolutely precise). Any meteorologist worth a grain of salt will tell you that meteorology is not an exact science. But considering that it's not, most meteorologists do wonderful jobs, otherwise we wouldn't need them, n'est pas?

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hello and welcome to my 1st post on UM - I've been visiting for a while, I enjoy reading the topics and forum conversations - this particular thread is the one that made me decide to join UM, being a dummy I'd like to share with you my method for weather forecasting/divination - I live in the downtown area of a fairly large city, I dont get many birds flying around here except the usual city birds - so, this is what I do.................

1) I look out my window

2) I look at the sky

3) I look at the people on the street

people may not be as awesome as birds but seeing how they are dressed tells me a lot about the weather outside

so, whats the weather going to be like in 2 or 3 days? - I dont know but feel free to ask me in 2 or 3 days, I'll look out my window

BEST - Ron

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I feel that birds may have an intuition for rain. When you have your long term winter forecast developed for your area, let me hear it. We can then compare your forecast with how things turn out. I have a similar model of determining rain. The difference is it is with a dog. If my dog smells like a sour dish rag, I know it just rained.

When I use divination, I am not relying on the intuition of birds. It is an interpretation of dreams, signs and portents. Quite a different thing.

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I really find your posts perplexing, pantodragon. You say it yourself:

And I agree completely.

But intuition is, at least partly, a product of experience.

Please read my earlier blog: A day in the life of...... This explains the mechanisms behind divination which make it apparent why divination does, and will always, be more effective than meteorology.

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Please read my earlier blog: A day in the life of...... This explains the mechanisms behind divination which make it apparent why divination does, and will always, be more effective than meteorology.

I did read the blog post, and perhaps I am too thickheaded to understand it but I don't see how it shows that divination is more effective than meteorology.

To me your method seems to boil down to simply using one's intuition to assess a situation.

Which is great, and definitely extremely efficient, but only provides practical answers if one has a well-developed intuition regarding that situation.

And I don't think there is any means of developing one's intuition for a particular situation other than via long and thorough experience.

The goal of meteorology (and all science, for that matter) is to gain understanding and develop predictive models that anyone can apply, regardless of whether or not they have had direct experience.

In 1966 the Soviets landed a spaceprobe on the moon; at that point no human pilot had ever landed anything on the moon, but the landing was successful (and done more or less on autopilot) because the scientists and engineers who planned the flight path of the probe understood classical mechanics, and could predict how the probe would behave near the moon.

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Didn't Einstein use dreams (intuition) to solve a complex problem once? Didn't some other inventors also get clues from dreams?

Barrett has also extensively reviewed scientific and historical literature, looking for examples of problems solved in dreams.

She found examples of almost every type of problem being solved in a dream, from the mathematical to the artistic. But many were related to problems that required individuals to visualize something in his or her mind, such as an inventor picturing a new device.

The other major category of problems solved in dreams included "ones where the conventional wisdom is just wrong about how to approach the problem," Barrett said.

Dreams might have evolved to be particularly good at allowing us to work out puzzles that fall into those two categories, she said.

http://www.livescience.com/8373-dream-real-reasons-revealed.html

Not going to forsake the weatherperson for intuition but not going to slam intuition either and if someone wants to solely rely on it that is their prerogative. No need to be dismissive here.

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Didn't Einstein use dreams (intuition) to solve a complex problem once? Didn't some other inventors also get clues from dreams?

Not going to forsake the weatherperson for intuition but not going to slam intuition either and if someone wants to solely rely on it that is their prerogative. No need to be dismissive here.

I wasn't trying to be dismissive.

Many scientists use intuition for guidance in solving complicated problems. But for this to work the scientists have to have well-developed intuition that is based on years of experience in that particular field.

I agree that Pantodragon's intuition makes her a very accurate weather forecaster - in her local environment. But I am pretty sure if you took her to a different continent, and a totally different climate zone, her intuitive predicting ability would be significantly reduced.

I am an experimental physicist. Having worked in this field for several years, I have a pretty good ``gut feeling'' for whether or not an experiment worked. But my intuition is lousy for predicting the weather.

Einstein's intuition was very valuable for science, because he was already a very accomplished and experienced scientist. I kind of doubt Einstein was any good at predicting the weather either.

Intuition is valuable, but it is not a substitution for ``observer-independent'' prediction models, which is what the laborious scientific method is trying to provide.

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Another intuitive way some folks tell the weather is by their joints, usually after an injury or due to arthritis... When the bones ache, means the pressure is changing, and likely rain is on the way.

I don't think divination vs science is easy vs hard... It's just different methods.

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When taking a plane journey, i'll stick with them assessing things through tried and tested data collection instead of your intuition.

No. Not MY intuition. YOUR intuition.

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in·tu·i·tion

/ˌint(y)o͞oˈiSHən/

Noun

The ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.

A thing that one knows or considers likely from instinctive feeling rather than conscious reasoning.

div·i·na·tion

/ˌdivəˈnāSHən/

Noun

The practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means.

Two very different concepts. Divination being paranormal - no proof as always.

As others have said: Please start giving us your most accurate forecasts and we can compare them with meteorology forecasts and the actual observations and see how you go.

Are you up for the challenge? A chance to prove you're right?

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I did read the blog post, and perhaps I am too thickheaded to understand it but I don't see how it shows that divination is more effective than meteorology.

To me your method seems to boil down to simply using one's intuition to assess a situation.

Which is great, and definitely extremely efficient, but only provides practical answers if one has a well-developed intuition regarding that situation.

And I don't think there is any means of developing one's intuition for a particular situation other than via long and thorough experience.

Yes, this would be fair if we were only talking about meteorology. But we are not. The abilities you have to develop are much more generally applicable. Basically they enable you to look after your health, to live well and happily and what's more, to dream BIG, far bigger than landing a probe on the moon. Further, in developing these abilities, your mind is developing and growing and you are entering a world where developing new abilities, where growth and development of the mind, are ongoing routine processes --- the idea of the mind peeking in one's 20s and then declining doesn't happen. But give your mind away to scientists, let them do the weather forecasting and your health etc for you, and you are in to all the problems of an aging and declining mind.

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pantodragon, are you going to demonstrate your abilities?

This is one thread you've started where you actually have the means to properly support your argument.

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Posted (edited)

Yes, this would be fair if we were only talking about meteorology. But we are not. The abilities you have to develop are much more generally applicable. Basically they enable you to look after your health, to live well and happily and what's more, to dream BIG, far bigger than landing a probe on the moon.

To me, the desire to do these things is an excellent argument for learning science and engineering. Of course I suppose that is only if you want to ever realize your big dreams.

But give your mind away to scientists, let them do the weather forecasting and your health etc for you, and you are in to all the problems of an aging and declining mind.

You and I seem to have very different opinions of science and scientists.

Hey if your intuition is so good, can you answer some questions for me?

  1. Is nickel oxide (NiO) a Mott-Hubbard or charge transfer insulator?
  2. Are the roots of the Reimann zeta function all the prime numbers?
  3. What square roots of integers can be perfectly drawn using only a compass and a straight edge?
  4. What causes appendicitis?
  5. Is it possible to make a thick transparent material that also conducts electricity?

Edited by sepulchrave

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My Ant theory seemed to be correct, it is raining!!

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