Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/509

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503
FAKE WEATHER FORECASTS.

FAKE WEATHER FORECASTS.
By F. J. WALZ, B.S.

DISTRICT FORECASTER U. S. WEATHER BUREAU, LOUISVILLE, K.Y.

THAT the dissemination of erroneous predictions and false prophesies of any kind is always injurious is very evident. In every community there are always many to believe and take fright at any prediction of disaster, however baseless such a prediction may be. Certain then it is that the publication of weather forecasts based on theories, often little better than superstitious conjecture, especially when these forecasts attempt a prediction of atmospheric phenomena of a dangerous and damaging character, such as severe storms, floods and droughts, is an injury to the public interest.

In our day and generation there are so-called long-range weather forecasters, who persist in their efforts to foist their predictions upon the public for personal gain. Too often they receive liberal compensation for their absurd predictions, thus preying upon the credulity of the public. It is mainly to help to counteract this growing tendency by explaining their methods and theories that this article has been prepared.

All times and all peoples have had their weather prophets. No factor among the forces of nature influences man's temporal well-being more than weather and climate, and hence the changes in weather conditions have been carefully studied from the earliest times, and attempts made to account for their causes, and thus be able to foresee them. The appearances which were found by experience to precede weather changes have been noted from time to time, and these have given rise to many weather proverbs, many of which are the result of close observations by those compelled to be on the alert, and hence are based in part upon true atmospheric conditions.

It was but natural that, in the lookout for weather signs, men should have studiously scanned the heavens, and have associated the celestial bodies with changes in the weather, often erroneously, as causation. Thus astronomy has been closely associated in the popular mind with meteorology. This has taken such deep root that even today a weather observer and prognosticator is to a large extent popularly associated with telescopes and the celestial sphere. This may account for the ease with which so many people can be gulled by weather predictions pretendedly based upon the influence of the planets. Meteor-