12 December 2003
Watching the skies
After a couple of clear (but cold) mornings, we now have a mass of clouds, and it's still cold. At least the wind is relatively hushed; a howler earlier this week packed enough punch to set off a motion detector around my house.
What we're waiting for, of course, is this next storm system, which has been hotly hyped all week, and which will drop somewhere between a fraction of an inch and a tad over a foot of snow on us, depending on factors which can't be predicted worth a darn. (Computer models are wonderful things, but the real world persists in not conforming to them.)
The most amusing aspect of this, apart from watching the meteorologists doing their standard decapitated-chicken dance, is the effect on the National Weather Service's VHF radio service. Somebody got the bright idea of promoting the NWS Web site over the radio, which is sane enough; what wasn't so bright was failing to notice the fact that the computer voice had been programmed to interpret some letters as standard abbreviations. The local forecast office is located at www.srh.noaa.gov/oun, which the disembodied voice duly reported as "West West West South RH...." By this morning, the Service's code warriors had tweaked the voice programming, and the URL is now given correctly up to the slash, after which "oun" is read as a word, rhyming with "town". They'll figure it out eventually.