Joe Pisani (opinion): Why can't anyone get the weather forecast right?

OPINION ART - weather forecasting; climate
OPINION ART - weather forecasting; climateJohn Overmyer / Newsart

In my pursuit of peace of mind, I stopped reading about politics, and I’m a better man for it. Well, maybe just a little better. Now, I’ve vowed to stop reading about the weather.

My wife insists I have to delete the Weather Channel and all those other apps on my cellphone because they’re not good for my blood pressure. They just can’t get it right.

As Mark Twain is once said to have said, but didn’t say, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” (It was actually a Hartford Courant editor who said that.)

I hate to complain, but we’re plagued by fake science, fake polls, fake news and fake forecasts.

Every day, the temperature has been five degrees higher than forecast. It’s like global warming on steroids. Then, they predicted thunderstorms for three days straight, and there were none. Then, there was no rain in the forecast, and we had a downpour.

Does this constitute “misinformation”? Will Facebook start censoring the National Weather Service? Where are those Washington Post fact-checkers when we really need them?

What I can’t understand is that modern meteorologists have billion-dollar computers, global radar and recreational marijuana, so why are there so many inaccuracies? Back to the drawing board, or better yet, back to the Ouija Board.

Where is Big Tech when we need those pinheads? They should spend less time spying and do something productive. And what about Jeff Bezos, who paid $5.5 billion for a 10-minute space flight. Forget the space ship. Spend that cash on better weather satellites.

Meteorologists and investment advisers are the only ones who don’t get penalized for bad predictions. Algorithms and computers don’t always get it right because if they did, my 401(k) would be in better shape and I could retire.

The guy at the 42nd Street newsstand where I got my New York Post had a better record than Al Roker. Every day I’d ask, “What’s the weather gonna be?” And he told me: “Rain”... “Sunny” ... “Cloudy.” He was never wrong.

I don’t want to criticize paid professional weather forecasters because I myself was once a paid professional something or other. Plus, they’ve had a horrendous month with a heat wave, poor air quality from the wild fires, and a tropical storm that almost ended life as we know it in Connecticut. And this summer could be the hottest one since the government began keeping records in the 1890s.

Forecasters need to emulate their illustrious forefathers who were involved in the invasion of Normandy on June 5, 1944, during World War II.

Author William Bryant Logan described it this way: “Perhaps the most important weather forecast ever made was the one for D-Day, the Allied invasion of France. It succeeded not because of the brilliant work of any solitary forecaster, but because a group of forecasters imitated the weather. They jostled, yelled, scribbled, and cast malevolent looks at one another. They fought it out and voted. And in the end, they were just right enough.”

In the olden days, we didn’t have weather apps. People got their weather from their morning newspaper. The forecast on Page One said something like “It’s going to rain.” No rainfall predictions or percentages or all that excruciating erroneous detail we get nowadays. Just “rain.” And you know what? It rained.

I learned everything I know about forecasting from my first editor, the late Chuck Gamzey, who was responsible for the weather at Greenwich Time. He didn’t call the National Weather Service or the Associated Press. But just before we went to press, he got up from the news desk, walked to the window, pulled up the blinds and looked outside. And if the sun was shining, he told our readers, “Expect sunshine ... blue skies.”

I’ve decided to ditch the weather apps and get back to basics. Instead of paying for the premium Weather Channel service with forecasts in 15-minute increments, I’m going to find a newsstand somewhere on the planet if one still exists. Every morning I’ll ask the proprietor, “Hey, Rocco, what’s the weather going to be?” He’ll stick his head out and look up at the sky and spot the precipitating nimbostratus clouds and say, “Gonna rain.” He’ll do better than all those computers.

For that matter, I trust my knees more than the National Weather Service because they start to ache when the barometric pressure falls and a storm is coming ... even though the forecast calls for “sunshine, blue skies.”

Former Stamford Advocate and Greenwich Time Editor Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.