Averyt: Weather or Not

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(HOST)  Commentator Anne Averyt admits to a
fascination with weather forecasters. 
Even though the wind can be capricious, weather reporters always seem to
find a reason to smile.

(AVERYT)  I’ve often
wondered why weather forecasters always seem so happy. Perhaps banter and grin
is a required course freshman year. Or bubbly is a prerequisite for weather
school admission.

Secretly, I’ve always harbored a desire to be a weather person.
Even now, I linger by the mounted thermometer display in the hardware store.
And for years I’ve followed the vagaries of the west wind with a four-way
weather station mounted on my back deck that not only gauges temperature and
rainfall but wind speed and direction. It does practically everything but feed
the birds.

I know plastic is low-tech, and my weather port doesn’t do
five-day forecasts, but I think it’s every bit as reliable as Super Doppler
Radar. For that matter, so is my back door that opens to the heavens and
accurately detects rainfall; and my arthritic knees don’t need electronic
sensors to know when the barometric pressure is falling.

Still, I
hold weather people in awe. I can only imagine what
it must be like to don a tux and top hat once a year and cuddle a furry
groundhog while the whole country waits in anticipation of a shadow.

Maybe you have to be all smiles when you’re predicting
something as fickle as the weather. 
Sportscasters are often called upon to stand by their predictions and
admit when their rankings have gone awry; but it’s hard to hold anyone
accountable for the eccentricity of clouds.

Yet in the name of weather I guess I can forgive almost
anything. In my family there wouldn’t be much talk if it weren’t for
the weather. Weather is the grease of our family conversation wheel. Whether
it’s hot and humid, drizzling, damp or blue skies, weather fills in the pauses.
When all else fails, weather can placate and unite us.

As soon as the first warnings are broadcast of a major snow
event in Vermont, the phone lines
start hopping from my family in Philadelphia
and Chicago. When D.C. is hot enough
to fry eggs on the asphalt, I am channeling my sons to check if their air
conditioners are in good repair.

Let’s face it, nimbus and cumulus clouds are a lot easier
to talk about than feelings. If the conversation takes a serious turn over the
Thanksgiving turkey, my brother will always save the day by bringing up the
wind.  Storms trump controversy, and the
heat index is a lot less hot to talk about than politics.

But I have this fantasy that one night the weather person on
the six o’clock news will stand in
front of his virtual TV storm map, turn with a straight face to the news anchor
and ask: “And how are you really feeling tonight?”  It’s a scary thought … whether it ever
happens or not.

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