Forecasting in the Rear-View: A Report on the Weather

0 • Patchwork

Volume 10, Issue 03
April 19, 2024

Weather is dry— a subject passed over in favor of juicier topics. While the unpredictable variety of weather events was once the worthy subject of lore and worship, today, the accuracy of forecasting is met with a dull irritation as your mother warns you to wear a jacket as she closes the weather app.

The availability of forecasting has expanded from impacting our daily choices like packing an umbrella to larger decisions such as weatherizing windows with plastic wrap or tarping roofs before a storm. However, the abundance of forecasting also gives way to an increased chance of error. With climate events becoming more extreme and threatening, distrust in the predictions can lead to disaster. Temporary adaptive tools will always be necessary as we don’t have a mono-climate, but these should be proactively used when the extremes could result in loss of life, property, and resources. The cost of reactivity is too high, and the cost of misreading or disbelieving in predictions is too high. The age-old saying stands true, it is better to be safe than sorry. However, the power of popularity and style is often insurmountable. So the provocation is not to investigate how to make the rain jacket mandatory but how to make it desirable to wear it even if it may not rain.

The forecast can predict clear skies, but that does not necessarily mean you will remember to bring your hat. However, that changes if a hat serves not only as a functional item for protection but also as a symbol beyond its utilitarian purpose. When a hat becomes an expression of alliances and identity, or perhaps just matches our shoes, you may never leave home without it. The most powerful aspect of how we take action to contextualize our bodies in a given environment starts with the weather but is reinforced by cultural trends and the desire to be seen.

If the weather prediction turns out to be correct, it’s beneficial to wear the appropriate protective attire. Alternatively, if the forecast is accurate but we’ve chosen the wrong attire, it could lead to disaster. If the prediction turns out to be incorrect and we’ve opted for unnecessary layers of protection, it’s often because those unnecessary layers are currently in vogue.

Influence doesn’t derive solely from prediction, nor does the impetus for action stem from certainty. Scientific exactitude offers a utopian future of precision alluding to a false sense of stability and inevitability. With the desire to make informed decisions that lead to correct actions, we are left only with the ability to make plans with the potential to fail. In contrast, being on trend is not reliant on “correctness” (even less so, on its correlates to weather) and more reliant on collective consensus.

The waterproof jacket, the sturdy platform boots, and the sun hat—are all talismans designed to alter the immediate environment around the body— proactive agents that protect against the environment, imbued with the power to shield us from the elements, or perhaps provide a splash of color. The challenge lies not only in improving the precision of the weather forecast but thinking instead of what we can learn from a colorful hat.

Fold Viewer