Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Please Auntie Em, dumb it down for us

The mistress has been out of town and so I've had no access to the computer for days. To add insult to injury, we had to pull the plug all evening because of widespread thunderstorms and tornadoes, or the possibility of tornadoes, or the probability of tornadoes, or the likelihood of tornadoes. I'm not sure which because of the infuriatingly oblique terminology used by the talking heads who are supposed to keep us informed. What, pray tell, is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning? And how are we supposed to remember when our apprehension has our knickers in a twist?

According to Wikipedia (and I quote Wikipedia as opposed to the National Weather Service, because the latter's Web site is craptacularly difficult to navigate):

A tornado warning is an alert issued by government weather services to warn an area that a tornado may be imminent. It can be issued after either a tornado or funnel cloud has already been spotted, or if there are radar indications that a tornado may be possible.

A tornado watch (SAME code: TOA; sometimes referred to as a "red box" by meteorologists and storm chasers) is issued when weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms that are capable of producing tornadoes. A tornado watch therefore implies that it is also a severe thunderstorm watch.
Wiki continues:
A tornado watch must not be confused with a tornado warning.

Not confused?! By the time you figure it out, you'll be flying debris.

I think conditions are favorable for the development of some less ambiguous language, so we don't have to be doing a version of "i before e, except after c" in our heads when the wind starts blowing. I suggest the following lingo. When the weathermen say, "Keep your eyes peeled" (that's KYEP for all you texters), that means a tornado might happen. When they say "Run for your lives!" (RFYL), it means an actual tornado has been spotted.

Much better, no?

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