Although it’s been cold out, in many ways this feels like the year without a winter. Around here we’ve had no real measurable snowfall and temperatures have generally hovered around 40 F, mostly cloudy. I get cold easily, however, so I need to know how to dress for jogging. During a warm spell I looked at WeatherBug. It’s my go-to app for such things. It told me the current temperature was 49. Since it’d been in the sixties the day before, that was believable. Then I glanced at our outdoor thermometer. It read 39. A ten-degree difference is significant for jogging, so I called in a third party. Weather.com said it was 40, much closer to my actual feeling of things—it was chilly inside that morning. WeatherBug also said it was cloudy, but Weather.com disagreed. A glance outside showed thin, hazy cloud cover.
Now, I know apps can’t cater to individual needs, but it does seem that WeatherBug was using projections rather than real-time information. Either that, or somebody was standing too close to the thermometer at the local reporting station, and perhaps breathing on it. I’m not one of those people who rely on my phone for everything. I do use it for navigation and snapping quick pictures, but until today I also used it for checking the weather. I’ve been surprised how often WeatherBug tells me it’s sunny out when I can see nothing but clouds. Sometimes looking out the window is the best way to learn what your individual weather is like. Weather is terribly local.
The capriciousness of weather is one of the main factors that led me to write Weathering the Psalms. Another, of course, was the hope that an academic post might actually consider a guy like me. The weather has always been a source of personal fascination. The threat of severe weather, particularly in the Midwest, was a source of naked awe. I remember standing outside in Illinois with the wide, expansive horizon all around, and staring straight up to a brewing storm cloud thousands of feet overhead. I didn’t need an app to tell me to take shelter. Or that time in Wisconsin when a weather system led to repeated, identical cycles of storms that lasted days, leading to localized flooding with rain following a clockwork regularity. Even then I was a jogger, and for a jogger knowing the weather in advance is important. These days all that majestic sky drama comes via a device that fits inside my pocket. It seems we’ve lost something, even though we’re safer this way. At least within ten degrees.