Nowadays, in this age of social media and hyper-mass-marketing, it seems there's a “National "Day" for everything: sunglasses, hot dogs, ice cream, etc.
Yesterday was National Weatherpersons' Day, and while I'm loathe to evince even the slightest appearance of self-indulgence, it's a fun day to ponder the incredible strides we've made in our still young science of meteorology.
Started in the ‘90s, the day commemorates American surgeon and scientist John Jeffries (1745-1819), a native Bostonian of Revolutionary times, who is credited with taking America's first daily weather observations starting in 1774.
Though not the consummate American patriot — he was a known loyalist who was officially banished from Massachusetts after leaving for England in 1776 — his work in Boston laid the groundwork for a nationalized network of weather record-keeping.
During his 15 years in Europe, he made the first-ever balloon flight over London, reaching an altitude of 6,500 feet, where he took studious measurements of ambient conditions. Interesting, considering we launch weather balloons twice daily to this day.
Today, many meteorologists will tell you — myself included — that weather was some preternatural fixation right from birth! While your exposure to meteorologists is most likely through local TV, where I work, just a scant 7 percent of us work in the news media. Unfortunately, it’s media that has played fast and loose with the title, “meteorologist.” I’ve always staunchly maintained that only a full college degree confers the privilege of the title, and a handful of our weathercasters here in New York don’t have such credentials.
Still, yesterday’s “Day” also recognizes the good works of the thousands of amateur weather enthusiasts who act as our critical “weather spotters.” These folks are trained by the National Weather Service, and are indispensable to us during dangerous weather events. So, New York, stay sky savvy. On behalf of my fellow New York meteorologists, it’s a privilege to serve you!
The week ahead
- Today: Partly sunny; high 43.
- Tomorrow: Periods of rain; high 48.
- Wednesday: Mostly cloudy, chance of rain or a wintry mix at night; high 54.
- Thursday: Partly cloudy, unseasonably cold; high 36.
- Friday: Sunny and cold; high 36.
- Saturday: Scattered showers and mild; high 48.
- Sunday: Partly cloudy; high 47.
Michael Friedmann, a New York-area meteorologist, can currently be seen on metropolitan area cable news on weekends. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/WeatherTalk.