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Why We Talk About What We Can’t Change

January 5, 2019

Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.
– Charles Dudley Warner

If you thought it was Mark Twain who first said that, don’t worry, so did I.

I live in a desert. Here, water is life. And not just water, all forms of percipitation; rain, snow, lakes, rivers, resevoirs, snow pack, even ground water levels.

I follow several weather accounts on Facebook. There’s the Utah Snow Forecast. They publish reports all year round. Of course, when the snows start in the Fall, the reports become more detailed. It’s not just a listing of snow levels. The writers use multiple data models to chart not only where this year compares with past years, but what we can expect for the coming months.

Talking about the weather doesn’t change a thing, of course. So, as Mr Charles Dudley Warner said, why talk about it?

Because in a desert, water is life. We get as little as 10 inches of snow in Southern Utah to as much as more than 400 inches at some of the ski resorts.

Utah has very “dry” snow. The moisture content is very low. It makes for the greatest snow on earth. (Ski Utah!) Ten inches of Utah’s great snow contains an inch of water.

Like many parts of the country, we have a monsoon season. The rains come in fall and the snows throughout the winter, of course. And that water needs to get us through the spring and especially the summer. It’s important because, in the spring, when the snow starts to melt, it fills our rivers and our flows into our resevoirs.

There a surprising amount of forecasting and planning that goes into an annual water plan. If the water managers expect a large spring runoff, they will let the resevoirs get low, to make sure there’s room for it. If they leave too much water behind the dams, in the Spring they will have to let too much water downstream and overflow the banks. Let out too much and the resevoirs won’t be full enough in the summer and fall.

The forecasters use history, science, current conditions and a little bit of “finger in the wind” estimates to chart the water estimates for the year.

Data, Big Data feed the forecasts. Various bits of data, each incomplete in itself, are fed into the models. Forecasts are compared against actual conditions and the results are fed back into the computer models.

So, despite Mr Charles Dudley Warner’s words, there actually is a lot we can do after we’ve talked about the weather.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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