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National Weather Service poetry and predictions

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Catherine Idzerda
January 10, 2012

I love reading the “Area Forecast Discussion” page on the National Weather Service website.

The discussion is written in all caps with very little punctuation. Each entry begins with a rating of the upcoming forecast, like this: FORECAST CONFIDENCE HIGH.

As for the entries themselves, they’re a mix of poetry and science:

“Quiet weather through Wednesday as we await the arrival of a low pressure system.” I like the idea of “awaiting” a low pressure system. Should you do something to prepare? Bake a cake? Get out a sweater?

“With the clear skies will come a shallow cold layer near the surface.” A “shallow cold layer” is beautifully descriptive, readers can almost see the blanket of cold air.

“Either way, the much colder air with the precip will not arrive until the leading 500mb vort max and frontogenesis gets in here Wed. night.”

Umm, well, I’ll have to take your word for that.

According to the National Weather Service, the snow will arrive late Wednesday night. Between five and six inches are predicted for the 30 hours between Wednesday night and early Friday morning.

Should we place bets on how much snow will actually fall?

I'll say 3 inches, max.

Here's the forecast discussion.



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