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Averyt: Weather or Not

06/24/11 7:55AM By Anne Averyt
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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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