LIONEL PODCAST: An Actual Meteorologist Explains How the NYC Blizzard Predictions Were So Bloody Wrong


Meteorology has ever been an apple of contention, as if the violent commotions of the atmosphere induced a sympathetic effect on the minds of those who have attempted to study them. — Joseph Henry
‘Meteorology in its Connection with Agriculture’, US Patent Office Annual Report Agricultural, 1858. In J. R. Fleming, Meteorology in America: 1800-1870 (1990).

The Steel City Diviner. This is Steve MacLaughlin. He owns Pittsburgh, has redefined television atmospheric augury as we know it and he’s simply the greatest meteorologist in the world and happens to be a great friend. With the Sturm und Drang that New York experienced what with the Snoreaster, viz. the blizzard that didn’t hit — repeat, they’re upset that the doom that was portended was averted — I asked Steve to explain the vicissitudes of meteorology and whether weather is subject to vatic augury. Or something. Who’s at fault? Who blew it? Is this media hype or criminal negligence? And whom exactly am I talking to? Listen to this fascinating disquisition on the subject of weather prognostication. Listen to the pellucid explication of his address and the tantalizing tenor as he in essence dissects and parses nature.

Whither Empedocles? “Iris from sea brings wind or mighty rain.” Weather involves whether as it’s the predictive art. It’s man’s first subject of discussion — by necessity. Fail to learn the weather and you fail to llve. As Steve is fond of quoting Edward Lorenz, he often importunes Pittsburghers to hearken back to the postulate cited in Essence of Chaos (1995), “Predictability: Does the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

[T]he icy layers of the upper atmosphere contain conundrums enough to be worthy of humanity’s greatest efforts. — Hugo Emil

‘Hergesell Begrüssungsworte’, Fourth conference of the International Commission for Scientific Aeronautics, St. Petersberg, 1904 (1905), 28-35. Quoted in Peter Lynch, The Emergence of Numerical Weather Prediction (2006), 97.

 On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Mr. MacLaughlin
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