Weather Predictions & ME!

Ah yes…I remember it well!   …….by Joe Batory

As a school superintendent for more than 16 years, I lived in terror of snow/ice storms primarily because I regularly had to decide whether or not and when to send  nearly 100 school busses onto the roads.  Under Pennsylvania law, the Upper Darby School District had the responsibility of not only bussing its own students who qualify via the distance requirements but every other youngster who lived in Upper Darby and attended a private or parochial school in the tri-county area) into the inclement weather to pick up and/or drop off thousands of kids  during winter. This was scary stuff, my least favorite part of being a school superintendent.

 What I did get over the years was lots of complaints no matter what my decision. For 60 to 70% of my students, having schools open was critically important since for so many homes, both parents worked.    For the rest of my parents, opening schools in snowy weather was viewed as dangerous and just plain stupid.

 Reliance on weather predictions were shaky at best. So prior to my decision-making, I always had multiple staff people out on Upper Darby’s roads “field-testing” whether in the middle of the night or during the  day so that I was relying on first-hand accounts of road conditions rather news media reports.  This evidence really helped when explaining my decisions to Board members and/or parents.

 My worst year was somewhere around 1996 when sheets of ice covered Upper Darby’s roads and the temperatures were consistently just around zero degrees F.  I kept schools closed for a week because of the safety issues with bussing.  Parents were not happy!

 ALSO……It took me a while but I eventually learned that the primary purpose of weather forecasts via the media was “ratings,“ i.e., “to scare people to death.”   Accuracy could be “up and down” with weather forecasts.  I got “burned” more than a few times.

 SO…. here is my top ten list of “experience based” ways to accurately predict weather from “most accurate”  at the top to “least accurate” at the bottom.

 Predicting snow and ice storms

Most Accurate                     1. Ask your local fortune teller

                                                2. Check you horoscope

                                                3. Roll some dice

                                                4. Get your palm read

                                                5. Visit your local witch

                                                6. Use voodoo

                                                7. Check how your bunion feels

                                                8. Look out the window

                                                9. Consult the national weather service

Least accurate                     10. Watch the local TV meteorologists