Rushville Republican

April 2, 2013

Ward: Wondering about Indiana weather

Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — Way back when I was a lot younger, Mark Purcell was a local weather procrastinator along with Dr. Frank Green. Both were of some note state-wise, but Mark was the major one (in my feeling, anyway). He would sort of be like an almanac and basically give long-term and local predictions. Frank would tend to be mostly local and did not publish (that I know of) any of his predictions in anything other than the Republican. Both had their adherents and detractors, but at the time they were better overall than the National Weather Service.

Many statewide would await Mark’s annual prediction and he even was published in the Indianapolis News for a time. He used all kinds of weird things for his predications, as did Dr. Green. They used woolly worms (something I have found to be completely unreliable), the thickness of bark on the trees, how much fur the cows and horses had as well as secret other things. They really did rather well with what they had. I believe both used past weather a lot and kept records for many years back. I was given a boxful of records of my wife’s cousin who lived in Moscow. His entries were generally weather more than anything else. I suspect both Purcell and Green had such records going way back. The records I ended up with go back to the early 1900s and I did find them interesting in general. Also, the weather back then was as changeable as it is today, if not more so.

Weather predictions have gotten much better, even in my lifetime. They have so many new and different ways to predict what is going to happen as well as where. The National Weather Service seems to be much better in locations and severity of the weather. Of course, one must also keep in mind that the local radio and TV stations have weather departments that are as good if not better than the federal one. Also, there are so many different ways to alert you and I of bad weather. You get local radio and TV alerts continually for days prior to the event, which I feel at times detract from the severity of what we will be getting.

In my youth, tornadoes were predicted, but no way near as well as today. The weather service did their best but they have so much more today with which to predict the weather. We have weather radios in our home as well as getting alerts on cell phones and other electronic play things. The recent snow storm was predicted almost a week in advance and so everyone was getting tired of listening to it before it actually hit us. And that, in my mind, is yet another situation we face today we did not have in my youth. They predict things so far out to be first people get tired of hearing of it and may actually pay less attention to it because of the continual coverage; that and the fact that some times the predicted storm is far less severe than was predicted and continually covered. That in my mind is one reason me and others may not take seriously some of the alerts we really should.

Our local fire departments and police departments have the ability of knowing about how bad the storm coming on maybe and where it will hit so they can allocate resources realistically. Farmers have programs on their computers that show the weather ahead and also have predictions about what may occur in the months ahead. Individuals can get programs on their personal computers again giving you way more information than you need or care to have. I suspect that anyone today would have way more information about the coming weather than either of my earlier predictors. And in the end it is the same, we can predict but no way are we able to change the weather, yet.

There is even a weather channel on satellite and cable as well as on local television. They continually show weather all over the country and world so you can be sure when you go on vacation in Italy the weather will be to your liking, or not. And if your family is like mine, those who are living in Florida and Arizona or Texas love to call back to Indiana and tell us of their warm and comfortable weather, especially in the winter.

And that, friends, is one thing I sure can do without at this stage of my life.