New Forecast Icons: the Mythic Journey

I look at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather forecast a lot on any given day. There’s the usual–do I need an umbrella or not? What should I wear? Does my son need to take his jacket or his coat? Or, during the winter especially–am I going to be able to get to work? Get home from work?

Also, as weather forecasts go, it’s pretty reliable. Nothing like the weather when I used to work at WMIX in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. We had a dartboard with weather labels, and more than once I saw the news director, Bob ______, throw a dart and then use that in the forecast. At least that’s how I remember it. It was more than 30 years ago. Maybe it was a DJ instead. Or maybe it was an episode of WKRP. Or maybe it was on WKRP and then we adopted it. The station manager at the time wanted us to call him “the big guy,” like Mr. Carlson, and I don’t think he realized that wouldn’t be a compliment, if we ever took him up on it.

But here’s the big news. They’ve changed the forecast icons! For the most part, I like the change. Here’s this morning’s forecast, for example:

Forecast for 7/8/15

Forecast for 7/8/15

They weren’t far off, though the sky here at the moment isn’t quite so rich a sky blue as the icon:

A beautiful day here at UW-Bitchland.

A beautiful day here at UW-Bitchland.

I like the way the new icons seem more narrative, almost metaphorical. Tonight, for example, it’s going to be foggy. The picture seems to tell a whole little story:

You're out driving and it's foggy and the car in front of you puts on its brakes--good thing you're not following too close.

You’re out driving and it’s foggy and the car in front of you puts on its brakes–good thing you’re not following too close.

Oh–before it’s foggy tonight, it’ll be cloudy and the moon will be peeking out from behind the clouds. That’ll be nice.

Later on in the week, things get interesting. We have chance of storms, and LOOK! FOUR DIFFERENT STORM ICONS! It’s not just night and day difference. You can go to the NOAA explanation page to find out that the differences have to do with how much cloud cover there is during the storm. My inexpert assumption would be that in a thunderstorm, cloud cover = a lot, but no–apparently there are levels.

My personal favorite, not currently in the forecast for this week, will show up when
(Cloud cover < 60%)
Thunderstorm in Vicinity
Thunderstorm in Vicinity Fog
Thunderstorm in Vicinity Haze

(NOT all three at once, I presume). I’ve never actually seen this:

This is the new one for wind. wind_sct I’ll miss the fellow in a trench coat struggling against a Chicago-style breeze, but wait! He’s back, only now when we see him it means COLD:
cold

The tornado is very dramatic, of course: ntor This is the tornado at night, so lightning has to be striking or you wouldn’t see it. Or I guess maybe if it was stirring up dust and powder, you’d see it. But in any case, in this one, lightning lights things up.

fc This is the image for a funnel cloud. Ahem. Reminds me a little of the wind sock….

hot HOT is the only one that I think is really a failure. I think this should just be a picture of someone looking miserable, with a fan and a cold beverage. Or maybe a heat rash.

fzra Freezing rain never looked so lovely.

ra_fzraBut not so lovely if you’re driving now, is it?

fzra_snIce and snow. Look how pretty.

ra_sn This is like a mashup between a Christmas card and a nightmare.

ovcLook how gloomy this one is. It’s for “overcast.” Think I’ll go write a poem.

But now for the hero’s journey. Here he is, struggling along: cold

Or wait!  It occurs to me that figure is a little androgynous.  So let’s just say she is struggling along when a giant penis drops down from the sky fc and her mood is decidedly mixed fzra_sn But the sun finally comes out bknfrom behind the cloudsovcand her mood picks up! (This is actually funnier if our hero is male. Oh well.)wind_sct

WAIT! The world’s become so much more interesting–let’s just say our hero is a woman with a penis because then the windsock is funny again AND we still get to have a woman on the hero’s journey. So, anyway, now she knows she must drive between the pillars of rain

until she gets to the twin lightning bolts,ntsraso that when she wakes up in the hazy city,hzshe will finally know nbknthat she’s home and also it’s apparently Halloween.

2 responses to “New Forecast Icons: the Mythic Journey

  1. Marnie – Very glad I got your blog address yesterday. Will visit often. Such refreshing wit. What a way to start the day – or end it – or enliven it in the middle. You’re one in a billion.
    Thank you!
    – Pam T.

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