The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

30 June 2008

It only looks hot

Summertime, and the living is generally on the warm side. That's pretty much a given, particularly in my neck of the woods. I'd be suspicious, though, were someone to try to make me think it was hotter than it really is.

Exhibit A:

Recently I had some of my readers comment that they thought that The Weather Channel and USA Today (which uses TWC graphics) temperature maps seemed to look "hotter". They suspected that the colors had changed. I tend to watch such things since my own company (IntelliWeather) produces similar maps.

Which calls for a comparison test:

I decided that it would be an interesting exercise to compare USA national temperature maps from the commonly used services today. I saved national CURRENT temperature isotherms/gradient maps from around 03Z (11PM Eastern Time) [Thursday]. All were generated within about an hour of each other.

By convention, "red" and "hot" go together; you see red, you think it's at least kinda warm. The NOAA/NWS map legend doesn't call for red until it's downright pavement-melting hot: you have to get into the 90s just to rate a faint orange, and a true red demands triple digits. The Weather Channel doesn't publish its actual scale, but things start to redden around 70 in their world. And Accu-Weather thinks things are orange-worthy down in the 60s. (The link above has screens from all these, and others.)

Assuming skullduggery from this may be a stretch, but there's precedent.

(Via Fark.)

Posted at 7:55 AM to Weather or Not

I've suspected for some time that TWC slides its color scale depending on the temperature range in evidence for that map, so that in the summer the 70s would therefore look a little cooler than such a reading would in the winter -- but in the context of the map and the season it would be reasonable to the viewer.

I could be wrong. But if I'm right it might explain why TWC doesn't publish the scale.

Posted by: McGehee at 10:49 AM on 30 June 2008

"Assuming skullduggery from this may be a stretch"? I don't think so. Sounds like rock solid evidence of a vast Islamic conspiracy to me.

What I suspect, from the commercial outfits anyway, is red gets people excited, so they talk about how hot it is and they tell other people they saw a weather map on TWC or wherever. Commercial outfits are all about ratings, after all.

Posted by: Charles Pergiel at 11:16 AM on 30 June 2008
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