Predicting weather hard to do

Karl Terry

Weather prognosticators — they’re a dime a dozen. I predict many of them will be all wet.

We’ve all got our favorite TV weather person. We choose them for their banter or their graphics or the way they dress but chances are they usually don’t predict the weather worth a hoot. They all look at the same maps and data then come up with their best guess.

As a former news editor I’ve been known to do the same thing. If the weather forecast wasn’t available on deadline I would just make up the forecast based on my years of watching the skies and ineffective weather forecasters. More often than not I nailed it.

Predicting weather, though, is at best as uncertain as getting the cat to get along with the dog. One thing goes wrong and the claws come out.

A Clovis man who uses Native American ways to predict the spring weather has been featured in the Freedom New Mexico newspapers over the years. He claims about 80 percent accuracy on calling the season based on the way smoke rises and drifts from a bonfire. Sounds about as good a way of predicting weather as any. At 80 percent he’s right more than meteorologists with all there fancy computer programs.

For years the paper in Colorado where I was editor and publisher for a time held a “First Snow on Sopris” contest where readers predicted the date and time of the first snow on the big mountain overlooking town. The contest was very subjective because a cloud could come over and leave white stuff on the mountain in the fall but you didn’t know if it was actually snow and it would often be gone in half and hour.

Sometimes it came at night and no one knew how many hours it was there.

We solved the problem by giving a prize for the first dusting of snow and one for the mantel (snow that didn’t melt away). We also gave the job of judging the contest to “The Great Wapiti” so that no human had to bear the burden of making the call.

One of my coworkers and the boss where I work now put up five bucks every fall on which one gets closest to the first freeze date. I heard another man at church give an exact date when he predicted it would freeze. He farms and I suspect keeps records but has he got what it takes to outwit Mother Nature?

If these guys are right, look for a freeze anytime between Thursday and Oct. 28.

As for me, I say look for snow flurries and a hard freeze on Halloween this year. By Nov. 2 I predict a hot breeze will set in, most of it flowing from Washington and Santa Fe.