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originally posted July 17, 2019
updated November 5, 2020

Why High-Tech Weather Reports Leave Me Cold

I don’t know about you, but when I’m getting ready for the day I watch a 20-minute weather report, and still have to check an app on my iPhone to figure out what to wear.

Naturally, I set the app to give me the weather in New York, my hometown. Nonetheless my iPhone has been factory-programmed so that I first have to view the temperature in Cupertino, California, Apple’s headquarters. I don’t know whether forcing me to look at Cupertino’s weather was an engineer’s nerdy idea of a joke, or some delusion that everyone, everywhere, needs to know the weather in a city mainly populated by twenty-three year olds. It’s a small torment.

How Should I Dress Today?

Swiping quickly past the California clime, I now check my local weather to decide how to dress. It’s important to check for rain. If I need to carry an umbrella I must consider the extra weight it adds to the paraphernalia that I haul around New York all day. It may mean that I have to consider swapping out my reading material. For instance, unloading my hefty novel for a slim magazine or a few of the articles torn out of newspapers that pepper my desk. I may have to leave behind my purse-size flashlight, hoping that I won’t have to find my way out of a dark stairwell during a blackout. At least not today. The sunblock and sunglasses can stay home, but not if there’s a chance of clearing. Shoe selection looms large. It’s complicated.

New York weather
Image copyright to Arlen Hollis Kane 7/17/19

The Science I Use to Determine the Weather

Now that I’ve explained how even the possibility of precipitation impacts my life, this is the scientific method I use in determining the weather. I go to my window and look down at a small indentation in the pavement outside. When it rains, a puddle collects in the groove and I look for the ping-ping of bouncing raindrops. By sight, I can assess the diameter of any ripples they cause and the speed at which the ripples are forming, that way I know how hard it’s raining. If nothing is pinging, I’ll look up at the sky for signs of clouds and the likelihood of wet weather later on. Once I’ve completed my evaluation, I choose either the lightweight folding umbrella that can fit into LeBron’s shoe or the sturdier one that can fend off a mini-hurricane, at least that’s what the street vendor told me. Now, at last, I can go about my day.

Television Weather Reporting Does Nothing For Me

Television weather reporting has become so detailed that unless the actual pollen count will dictate whether you leave the house or not, it’s a big waste of time.  Knowing the precise humidity doesn’t mean much.  I’ll always know how damp the air is by the sheer volume of my hair, and even that is of little consequence because I have expensive grooming products that wrestle it into submission.

These camera-ready meteorologists are bombarding us with information that astrophysicists chuckle over during happy hour.  The lows are coming in from here, the highs are coming in from there, the system is going to meet somewhere around the Equator or maybe northern Europe – or maybe not.  I’ve often thought that meteorologist may be the best job in the world — you never have to be right.  Hey, as the old-timers used to say: If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes and it’ll change.

So Do I Need a Jacket?

I’m not pooh-poohing the exhaustive reporting entirely.  I’ll admit that some bits may be of use to a limited number of people – perhaps travelers – but frankly, there are more efficient ways to determine flight delays. Check with your airline, for one.  The average rainfall for the month is of no use to anyone except maybe the small farmer – and I’m a big fan of the small farmer – but I’m sure that in this day and age there must be more advanced ways to figure out irrigation schedules.

When I was a kid the weather took up maybe five minutes of the evening news.  It was always the last thing on.  That way you’d get up in the morning and dress for the day without so much as a thought about the dew point.  I have a friend whose husband watches the weather on the Italian cable channel.  He speaks no Italian, in fact his English needs work – but no matter,  he’s not interested in weather conditions, just those gorgeous weather girls.

So all this venting is simply to ask the television channels to cut through the extraneous blah blah that helps them fill airtime, and to just tell me, do I need a jacket?


About the author

Arlen Hollis Kane

Arlen Hollis Kane is a Manhattan-based award-winning writer.  Memos from Manhattan, her regular column for 50PlusToday, is reflective of her love affair with her hometown.  Her focus is on writing about the ever astonishing people, places and events that inspire the phrase “only in New York.”Arlen Hollis Kane

After reaching 50, she fulfilled a childhood passion by enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology.  She designs and hand makes scarves, handbags and jewelry. Her abstract acrylics and photographs have been featured in a one-woman show in the Gallery of the Borough President of Manhattan, and in juried shows, including at the National Arts Gallery.

Arlen volunteers for Dorot, an organization that helps seniors stay engaged and socialized, and Big Apple Greeter, which gives visitors the experience of seeing New York with a local.

4 thoughts on “TELL ME, DO I NEED A JACKET?

  1. Yes the world would be a better place if the meteorologists simply had a small box at the bottom of the screen while they ‘blah blah warm winds from south, colliding with barometric blah blah’ that showed a symbol of an umbrella if one might be needed that day along with another box with a picture of a sweater, light jacket or coat depending on necessity. Arlen is on the right track!

  2. I am one New Yorker who looks at the weather forecast every morning without making decisions of how to dress since I don’t believe everything I read. Ms. Kane’s article made me imagine a landscape of millions of people getting up in the morning to find out the weather conditions anywhere in our planet!

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