The highlight of sixth grade was the accuracy of predictions generated by my homemade weather station. I was the official weather girl of Indian Point Elementary, who boasted pretty accurate forecasts based on my barometer (a milk carton, two sewing needles and a single hair strand), rain collector, wind direction and speed indicators, cloud chart, and occasional sneak peaks at the newspaper. I kept track of sunrises (red skies at dawn, sailors stay home), sunsets (red skies at night, sailors to play next day), cloud formations, the direction grass went when tossed up in the air, and rainbows. I claimed to smell upcoming rain, snow, and low tide. I was perpetually jotting my observations in a three ring binder that also included early drafts of a science fiction novel, watercolor renderings of costumes for Julius Caesar and crude drawings of planaria (now seen as disgusting little flatworms) caught in our backyard stream.
What I don’t get half a century later is why weather predictions are no more accurate with sophisticated digital wizardry than mine were and they were simply based on getting outside and paying attention. This weekend the imperfect storm of the season failed to deliver eight to ten inches of snow ice as promised. We got dusted. The St. Louis region’s schools are closed – again – because it’s frigid cold and the roads were icy when the busses were scheduled to roll. Being from New England and upstate New York, I recall walking to school on colder days and more than once skinned my knees and walloped my head by slipping on ice. School closings are a good thing. Remember that in July when school gets out.
I’m going to predict St. Louis regional weather for spring. Looking outside, we’ve got snow on the ground, it’s 15 degrees but the ice is melting from the rooftops. I predict the rest of the snow in middle America will eventually melt so the river will flood this spring and boaters along the Mississippi will moan and groan that another early season is lost to swift current and wayward trees blasting down the channel.
In addition to floods, we will have chilly nights and some nasty days. There will also be lots of sunny days with warms breezes punctuated by green skies and deep thunderous rumbles. The sun will seem to set later and rise earlier in a couple of weeks – but that’s only partially true since we’re tinkering with time and clocks as we spring forward.
People will start wearing fewer layers and shorter arm and leg attire. Toes will reappear. There will be an uptick of customers in pedicure salons. Sunscreen will replace chap sticks. Pastels will bloom with eggplant, orchid, and violet yielding to lavender hued attire. Snow shovels will be taken over by impatient garden tools. Trees will leave and humidity will rise with the temperatures in the Mississippi Valley. Tempers will flare as summer arrives on time but the river is still high on winter melt.
As for the rest of the country – you’re on your own. Show me any kind of weather on any given day in Missouri and the one thing I know is – just hang on for a minute or so – because change is gonna come sooner or later – like it or not. By the way –are the fat robins outside my window pecking at the icy grass – over eaters or preggers?