Thursday, November 17, 2005

Strange Weather

For an Indian who is used to sweltering heat, deluges in the Rainy season and relatively balmy winters, the climate of the USA has come as a shock. It's not the the cold that surprises me. It's not the heat in summer either. It's not the occasional heavy rain. That was expected.

But what surprises me is the severe weather here. The weekly tornadoes, the monthly hurricanes, the lightning strikes, the flooding, the blizzard type conditions up north and the wind. All these conditions are alien to me. India by comparison has it easy - save a few really heavy downpours and a extremely hot summers, we really don't experience too much harsh weather in India. Not too many tornadoes, no extreme wind, relatively less hurricanes. Floods, though common are relatively rare in comparison with the US.

But what I find really impressive is the weather information system here. The weather channel does an excellent job of forecasting; its forecast of a cold front hitting College Station was off just by 15 minutes! And the tornado and lightning warning systems are excellent. Hurricanes are forecast with accuracy by experts. For instance, the Paths of Hurricanes Rita, Katrina and Wilma were estimated with accuracy. Houston was advised to evacuate in time for Rita: and the hurricane came really close.

Thunderstorms are tracked on the TV. People know about storms and tornadoes very well here. US does have severe weather, and as a result, Americans are probably the best prepared in the world to tackle it.

Another questions pops up. Does US really have more severe weather than India? Or is it because of lack of proper monitoring systems in India? (For proof of this, visit and and compare.). We, after all, back in India do keep losing fishermen to the sea and cities keep flooding. Cyclones come once in a few years. And Bengal gets tornadoes. Extreme heat is common.

But I don't think the Indian market, as of now, is sophisticated enough to justify launching a weather channel type enterprise in India. Firstly, if it's the monsoon, it'll probably rain. If not, it'll probably be hot. The only forecast needed is the intensity of the monsoon and the advent of the monsoon. These are somewhat long term predicitions, and I am sure that they are fraught with more error than immemdiate forecasts such as those made by the weather channel.

So, a caterpillar might be as accuate as any weatherman when it comes to making a long-tem perdiction such as how cold the winter will be, or how many hurricanes are expected next hurricane season. After all, it would know the best, for caterpillars are baby butterflies. And almost everyone knows of the proclivity of the average butterfly towards producing hurricanes. That's what I love about weather. Chaos. Long live, O' non-linearity in Navier-Stokes! You makes life worth living.


xombie said...

Thats exactly what I was thinking! The weather here is so very changeable. And one learns to trust the forcasts here. You plan your day with these here. Just yesterday it was 75 and now it is below freezing and blustery.

I think the people here are more aware of their weather because they need to.

Akhilesh said...

Yeah. A weather channel forecast for chennai would be predictable: Today Hot. Tomorrow: Hot; Saturday: Hot. Uncomfortable.