Thursday, August 29, 2013

Still Hot

Granada, Spain (September 7, 2011)

I should stop complaining about the sweltering weather and embrace it. Fall will soon be here, and winter will follow, and who knows it may be another one of these freezing cold winters when the temperature in Ames is lower than the summer temperature on Mars (it happens, for real). In fact this morning when I was at The Cafe I checked out the local newspaper. It must have been a slow news day because the article on the first page was declaring that the forecast for the next winter will be extreme cold and lots of snow. Now, I do not mind that (I like snow and going cross country skiing with Kero) but given how difficult is to make long term weather predictions I wondered how they could know. It turns out that the source of the prediction is the "Farmers Almanac", that claims an impressive 80% accuracy in this kind of predictions. Impressive indeed, given that our best mathematical models cannot predict the weather past 8 days better than the 30 years average (i.e. they cannot say if it will be cold or hot, humid or dry past a week or so). So I kept reading. Apparently the Farmers Almanac uses the number of sunspots, phases of the moon and positions of the planets for making their predictions, all combined with a secret mathematical formula that has been passed along through generations of "weather prognosticators" concealing their identity with the pseudonym "Caleb Weatherbee". If I only had known, instead of spending all this money on climate science, meteorological satellites and expensive supercomputers we could have just figured out everything by reading the horoscope in the Sunday paper! Or maybe no?

The photo above was in the old (arabic) part of Grenada, a really beautiful city in Spain I visited a couple of years ago for a scientific meeting on variable stars (I wonder if those stars are also included in the secret formula of the Farmers Almanac). It has an illustrious history, and some wonderful arabic architecture (like the famous Alhambra). The day I took the photo was really hot, but dry, not moist like here. The kind of hot weather I like.

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