Monday, February 25, 2013

Meteorological Perfection

Various media outlets, locally and elsewhere, have different scales to rank the day's weather. It's often subjective and not always consistent since one's definition of "perfection" in the weather sense may be different than someone else's. Locally, Fox 29 has been ranking the weather with a one to ten scale for a few years now, with a "ten" symbolizing weather perfection and "one" symbolizing epic fail.

Washington's Capital Weather Gang has a similar one to ten scale and other forecasters through the country either assign numbers or a letter grade based on the day's forecast, all of it generally subjective given one's definition of perfection may vary based on time of year, based on pattern, and more.

We pinned this question to Facebook the other day and got a varied list of responses, some stating their perfect weather day was getting a blizzard while others wanted sunshine.  One, a hurricane chaser, was hoping for gusts over 100 kts (115 mph) overhead. I doubt most would agree...but given his passion, I can see how he would feel that way.

I pinned this question to several members of our team and we generally agreed upon the same basic criteria:

"There has to be three ingredients: First, you need plenty of sunshine with good visibility. Second, I want dew points in the 40s or low 50s. Lastly, air temperatures should range from 72-78 degrees. Or...usually not Texas from May through September." -- Matt Lanza.

"The visibility has to be 10 nautical miles with abundant sunshine. The dew point temperatures have to be in the fifties. Winds should be relatively light." -- Doug Melegari.

"A 'perfect 10' day weatherwise would feature 100% sunny skies. Temperatures would be in the mid 70s with dew points in the 50s or lower. There would be a comfortable breeze out of the northwest around 10 mph." -- Brian Donegan.

"At least mostly sunny skies and a slight breeze. Dew points in the lower half of the 50's and temperatures between 75 and 85." -- Tom Thunstrom.

"To me, a perfect day would be a partly sunny day, temperatures in the upper 60s, lower 70s with a nice westerly breeze and low humidity. And a drink in my hand. Ahhh..." -- Kevin Wagner.

Not everyone will agree, particularly those who feel extremes are perfection. With the exception of the diehard snowstarved and the hurricane chaser, the general definition of meteorological perfection seems to be pretty easy to pick out for most folks. Whether you want low humidity or no humidity, a varied degree of breeze, or temperatures in the 70's or low 80's, most of us would generally agree that such a day is a very nice day overall. Whether it's "perfection" is still in the eye of the beholder, however.  Where such scales become more difficult to rank are the days in between perceived perfection and perceived failure.  Wind, cloud cover, precipitation all add various wrinkles to one's ranking and grading, thus making it harder to grade the "in between" days without running into various differences of opinion.  One may feel their day was ruined by a 20 minute thunderstorm raining on their parade or their picnic while someone else may not have noticed or even cared.   Same goes for winter with some complaining about how "brutal" a day in the low 30's is because of the wind while others find it refreshing.

The discussion and debate about weather...and what makes for a nice day...can be a rather subjective exercise based on the bias and mood of the forecaster...but in general, very few disagree that a sunny day is a bad thing.