The World's Strangest Weather

In a recent article, the Baytown Sun mentions that it isn't unusual for Baytonians to be found wearing shorts on Christmas, but that it'll probably be a bit too cold for that this year. As it turned out, the high temperature on Christmas day was in the mid-fifties (Farenheit, or about 19 degrees Celsius), and now the day after it's about 72 degrees (22 or 23 Celsius), which would be nice if it weren't so damp.

The local television meteorologists keep reminding us that the "normal" temperature for this time of year is 63 degrees (I'm not going to convert this any more), and insist on telling us that it is 20 degrees below or 10 degrees above "normal," as if it shouldn't be that temperature, and something really unusual is happening.

In fact, the article in the Sun was correct... it isn't at all unusual to have warm temperatures on Christmas. It also isn't unusual to have cold temperatures.

So, Ed Brandon, Dr. Neil Frank, and whoever else forecasts the weather around here, I have a suggestion: Figure out what "normal" really is.

Let's see: One day week-before-last we had a record-tying 79 degrees. Two days later, the high was 40 (the new lowest "high temperature" on record). (79 + 40) / 2 = 59.5, which is pretty near that "normal" temperature the weather folks keep telling us about. Now I will admit that, when a record is set, it's okay to call this an unusual temperature, but all of the days when the temperature is 50 or 70, well, don't tell us that this is not "normal" because it's 10 degrees above or below the "normal high." The word "normal" is incorrect... that 60 or 63 degrees is an "average" high temperature.

You guys had to have statistics in college, so let me give you a refresher. Take all of the highs for a date, then run them through a calculation for "Standard Deviation." It's a pain to type the formula using ASCII text, but if you don't know it, write me, and I'll get it to you.

Multiply the standard deviation by 3, then add and subtract it from the average (which you have been calling the "normal" high) and that will give you a range which you can truly say is "normal." 98% of all high temperatures will fall within 3 standard deviations from the average. The other 2% you can say are so-many degrees above or below normal.

Now, in late August, when the high temperature is almost always 98 degrees, the standard deviation is likely to be very small; but from October through April, "normal" will have a pretty big range.

Of course, the weather forecasters will never do that. It's more fun to pretend that things are "out of kilter," that global warming is killing us all, or that somehow it is causing the temperatures to fluctuate wildly. Of course, some of the record temperatures are 90 years old, so a new record only means that things were as strange 90 years ago as they are now.

People like to think their situation is special, though. A couple of weeks ago, the Sun mentioned the old phrase, "If you don't like the weather in Texas, stick around a few days and it'll change." A variant is "stick around a few hours."

That got me to wondering. I want people to write me and tell me if they have that expression where they live. "If you don't like the weather in (fill-in-your city-state-or-country)... ." Have you used this expression in North Dakota? How about California, where the weather supposedly is always the same?

I know there are parts of Hawaii where it rains every day, but is sunny most of the time. There's an example of it changing in a few hours!

And what about other countries and on other continents? Do you Canadians use that expression? What about in Europe, Asia, South America.

and let me know if you have or haven't heard this expression where you live. If I get enough responses, I'll write about it later.


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