Gone Away ~ The journal of Clive Allen in America

American Idols (2)
(to see the first American Idol Award, click here)

Numero Duo: Doppler Radar

When Kathy and I were living in England, there was one thing she missed almost as much as her kids: the Doppler radar weather maps on television. I did not really understand her frustration until I came to Oklahoma and began to watch weather broadcasts for myself. But now, all is revealed.

In England we have weather forecasts (I debated for a while which word to use here - guesses, approximations, wagers, divinations? But in the end, as you can see, I decided to use the most polite term) on TV, just as they do in the states. Thanks to Sky (satellite) TV, we have weather guys who are just as enthusiastic and animated as any in America, as well as our more standard British variant, the solid, sure and (apparently) dependable types.

Our weather charts, however, are poor affairs; basic, undetailed maps of our islands, planted with the occasional strange symbol of golf-balls falling from a cloud, happily-glowing yellow faces or overfed arrows invading from all directions. In the early days, some of these symbols would lose their grip on the map and fall, thereby adding to the general confusion. There is nothing more amusing than the discomfiture of a weather guy trying gamely to persuade a reluctant cloud to stay in place, whilst maintaining an unconcerned and authoritative patter.

Of course, things have moved on since then. We now have animated symbols that march around the map. On rare occasions, on some channels, there might even be a satellite photograph. But Doppler radar is, apparently, too complicated for the poor British public to understand - it is kept from us.

The British have a long-standing reputation for talking incessantly about the weather. For many years I held to this general belief but I have now discovered that we are mere amateurs at the game. When it comes to discussing weather, The Americans have us licked hands down. They can talk for hours on the subject, swapping details of temperature, rainfall figures, wind velocities and depths of snow. They never tire of the game and are quite ready to go through everything again if someone new comes along and wants to participate. These guys are professionals, believe me.

And so it should be. In Britain the weather is a deciding factor on what to wear for the day - in America the weather can often be a matter of life and death.

But I have drifted from my main intent; to sing the praises of Doppler radar. Here is something that only the Americans can appreciate - the ability to see the weather as it happens. The radar weather map shows exactly what the clouds are doing and we can follow the trend of their movement and see whether they are likely to affect us or not. There is no requirement that we trust the confident assertions of the weather guy; we can see with our own eyes what is happening. What a marvelous invention this Doppler radar is!

My first American Idol Award went to the fire hydrant - for reasons that only foreigners can understand fully, I'm sure. This time I thought it only fair that the Award should go to something the Americans know and love but that remains an unknown mystery to the rest of the world. Let's have a big hand, therefore, for the winner this time. Here it is folks, the Doppler Radar Weather Map!

(to see the third American Idol Award, click here)


So, what's the weather like? :P
Date Added: 08/12/2004

Gone Away
See for yourself. ;)
Date Added: 08/12/2004

I say. Are those tiny raisins falling from the "sky" this fine lovely die?
Date Added: 08/12/2004

Gone Away
Who's raisin' raisins again?
Date Added: 08/12/2004

Your lot are weird...
Date Added: 08/12/2004

Gone Away
Birds of a feather, Mad ;)
Date Added: 09/12/2004

So why don't we have as detailed a weather forcast as the States here in England? Could it be that there is a constant 99% chance of rain on any given day? The rarity of a "Thunderstom Warning"? Have to admit, I sure do miss The Weather Channel's endless information of the weather conditions past and present!
Date Added: 15/12/2004

Gone Away
I think the answer must lie in the fact that the weather is rarely life-threatening in England, Katie. The sailors have their own weather reports and that goes into much more detail, presumably because they can sink or swim depending on how bad the weather is in the seas around Britain.
Date Added: 09/01/2005

Back to the main blog

Have your say

You may use HTML in comments. A carriage return is <br />, use two for a new paragraph. For bold text use <strong></strong> and for italic text use <em></em>. If you know what you're doing feel free to use more complex mark-up but please no deprecated tags or JavaScript.

Name *

Comment *

Email *


Commenting has closed for this post


Plan your next journey with
Price Comparison UK
Copyright disclaimersXHTML 1.0CCS2RSS for news aggregators