July 28, 2014

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It's Never Been Like This Before...

Everybody's talking about how mild a November it is... but is it really?

It's a comment I hear very frequently...

"I don't recall it ever being  as ________ this way before..."

Fill in the blank... so warm... so dry .... so cold... so harsh... so snowy... so wet... so deep... whatever!

The reason why most people say this is a quirk of human memory.

We remember the most recent conditions as the most important... but not always.

An extreme snowfall, or a violent storm sticks out in memory, particularly because it IS so DIFFERENT from what usually happens.

But the average weather is less noticeable and so, the details fade from memory.

(By coincidence, this is the same quirk that makes some people wonder "How could I ever have been in love with THAT person? What did I ever see in them?"  The current memory overwhelms the older memories.)

The only REAL way to judge the weather is not to stick one's head out the window to see what it's doing at the moment.... but to keep written records, with clearly recorded numerical values.

This is called Climate Record keeping.  And in the US, we have records going back to the 1700s, thanks to a few individuals like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, and others. 

In the mid-Ohio valley, our records go back to about 1894, but I am highly skeptical of some of those earliest records.  Not because we didn't have extreme weather back then, but because your instruments have to be calibrated against some standard, and I am doubtful that we would have SO many records lows occurring just when our record keeping began.

But, that's the official record... and so, we go with it.

In the meantime, next time you are tempted to say, "I don't remember November being so warm"... think about what you're saying.

You're probably exactly right!

 

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