Monday, December 13, 2010

Ray's Weather

Like you need one more person complaining about the weather, right? It's cold, it's snowy, it's windy, it's dreary....we're all in the same boat. Well, if you're not in this boat, you can just swim silently 'cause the rest of us are not in the mood to hear about your nice weather. When I lived in Chicago and worked in customer service, I hated being stuck on the phone in January with some gloating guy in Florida or Texas just had to inquire about our weather just so he could regale me with excruciatingly specific details about his balmy weather ("why, I'm in shorts today and am about to go throw a steak on the grill").

Since one of the reasons for living in NC instead of Chicago is to avoid weather like this, I'm especially resentful. The biggest insult to injury is that we're getting lake effect snow. Yes, Lake Michigan snow. That's just wrong.

As you might imagine, this brutal cold snap makes the farm chores just that: chores. Bundling up against the sub-zero wind chill wouldn't be so bad if it were just a matter of tossing some hay to the buffs a couple of times a day (thank goodness I kept all that Chicago-style winter wear). The real pain is water. Water freezes in their tanks quickly and even my backup supply, the creek, is frozen so I have to haul water several times a day so they have some in liquid form. Since it's too cold to use the standpipe outside, I have to fill the containers in the house then take them out to the buffs. I've been using a sledgehammer to break up ice in the tanks but it reforms awfully fast and today the buffs seem disinclined to leave the protection of the barn to seek out water if they don't have to. We have one tank in the barn which doesn't freeze as quickly but it is the most challenging to fill and will succumb to the extreme cold of the next two days (teens and single digits with much lower wind chills). On the bright side, the snow isn't deep, so I'm not fighting through snowdrifts on top of everything else.

Speaking of bright sides, when it comes to winter weather, I'm usually hard pressed to find something cheery to say. Much like a trip to the dentist, reading a winter weather forecast is not something I expect to bring a smile to my face. Yet I've been lucky with my time in the South. Not only did I have a dentist in Atlanta who made me laugh so much (sans nitrous oxide) that I actually looked forward to my appointments, but now I have an independent weather source which makes me happy even when the news is bad. Ray's Weather is a quirky little website devoted to weather here in the mountains of western North Carolina. Based around Boone (home to Appalachian State University), it draws on the bevy of professional meteorologists in this area to come up with independent forecasts. Something about our myriad microclimates, funky topography, and playing host to the National Climatic Data Center attract meteorologists to our area. And these folks have a sense of humor.

Given that so much of the appeal of our area is the great outdoors, Ray's has a system for quickly assessing the day's potential without having to wade through a lot of pesky details like temperature, wind, and precipitation: the Golf-O-Meter. The number of golf balls appearing on the day's forecast tells you whether you want to be outside.

Sadly, today was the first time I've seen a no golf balls indication. Still, it made me smile when I reviewed the official definition of a no golf balls day. I think my favorite forecast was the day after Leslie Nielsen died and the entire extended forecast was interspersed with random quotations from Airplane and no explanation was offered.

Oh, and the forecasts are very good. Even when they're very bad.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry about the freezing temps. I'd make your little valley a tropical paradise if I could...