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Old-tyme weather predicting? There’s an app for that

The Jacksons from the September 27, 2018 issue of the Manitoba Co-operator

cartoon image of a family seated at a table

OK, I have to admit, the weather is weirder than usual this year.” Andrew Jackson leaned back in his chair at the end of the table and took a sip of his coffee. “I can’t say I like it.” The rest of the family seated around the table considered this for a second.

“What makes you say that?” Andrew’s son Randy, who was busy cleaning off his own plate, wanted to know.

“How do I put it?” said Andrew. “It’s like there’s no in-between seasons. In the beginning of May we were still waiting for spring. It was so cold. And then one day the temperature went up to 25° and just stayed there. June, July and August were just hot, hot, hot. Two weeks ago it was still 30° outside. And now, two weeks later, it’s snowing. I mean, come on.”

The Farmer’s Almanac says we should expect cold and snow this winter,” said Jennifer, who was sitting across from Randy.

“Well, that’s a shocker,” said Brady who was seated next to her. “Cold and snow in winter? What is this world coming to?”

“I think the almanac meant EXTRA cold and snow,” said Jennifer.

“Fortunately,” said Rose, from the far end of the table, “Environment Canada is predicting a warm, pleasant winter with average snowfall and a milder-than-normal January.”

“And we all know how bang on Environment Canada always is,” said Andrew.

“It must have been great back in the old days,” said Brady, “when every year was the same as the year before and the same as the year after and everybody knew which day winter would start and there was a three-month period between summer and winter where the temperature would drop 1° every day so you could slowly get used to it being colder. You must remember those days, right Pops?”

“I remember it well,” said Andrew. “The climate was so predictable you could set your watch by it. Someone would say, “What time is it?” and someone else would go to the kitchen window and look at the thermometer hanging from the window frame outside and say, “Judging by the temperature, it’s three o’clock on the 15th of October.”

“What would the temperature have been at three o’clock on the 15th of October?” Jennifer wanted to know.

“Forty-two degrees,” said Andrew without hesitation.

“Above or below?” asked Jennifer.

“Above, obviously,” said Andrew. “It wouldn’t hit 42 below till January 25.”

“Wow,” said Jennifer. “Forty-two degrees is hot!”

“Not really,” said Andrew. “Remember, we still measured the temperature in real degrees back then. Not this Celsius nonsense everybody uses now.”

“I heard,” said Brady’s wife Amanda, “that back in those days you used to be able to predict at what temperature water would freeze. That’s how predictable things were.”

“That is absolutely true,” said Andrew. “When I was a child, you could listen to the weather forecast on the radio and if they said it was going to go down to 31° overnight you could reliably expect that if they were right, then in the morning when you got up to catch the school bus there would be ice on the puddles.”

“Were the weather forecasts sometimes right back then?” asked Randy.

“Sometimes,” said Andrew.

“Wow,” said Amanda. “Those were different times.”

“It’s not the weather that’s the problem,” Jennifer’s boyfriend Alan piped up through a mouthful of potatoes. “It’s the weather apps.”

“Say what?” said Brady.

“I have four weather apps on my phone,” said Alan. “If I ask them all at the same time what the high temperature will be tomorrow I’ll get four different answers. In fact, if I ask them what the temperature is outside RIGHT NOW I will get four different answers! So it’s no wonder the weather is confused. I mean, I certainly am.”

“Why do you have four weather apps on your phone?” asked Jennifer.

“Because I’m too lazy to delete them,” said Alan.

“That’s the exact same reason I have four apps on my phone that tell me where I parked my car!” said Jennifer.

“That’s crazy,” said Alan. “No wonder you can never find your car.”

“You should delete your weather apps Alan,” said Rose. “And you should delete your car-finding apps Jennifer, or you two will suddenly find yourselves frozen to death in the Fairmont Inn parking lot in the middle of February, wearing light spring jackets and with your key frozen into the lock of somebody else’s Honda Fit.”

“It’s a Honda Civic, Mom,” said Jennifer.

“I know,” said Rose, “but does your app know?”

“It knows,” said Jennifer.

“The point is,” said Andrew, “it’s unseasonably cold out.”

There was a murmur of agreement around the table.

“Good,” said Andrew. “I’m glad that’s settled.”

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