Monday, June 22, 2009

Optimysticals – the weather according to the BOM

Optimysticals – the weather according to the BOM
Torrey Orton
June 22, 2009

Now it has been almost 2 hours of constant shifting from susurration to light roar as I pass back and forth between eating and writing. At last, nothing. Probably I can sleep.

It has been two weeks since the above appreciation of rain. We (Jane and I) were walking across one of Melbourne’s better outer city parks, 30 kms from our place near the city centre and 30 minutes drive time total door to gate. It sprinkled as we walked. That is, we felt a drop here and there. Nothing visible. But we now notice a level of wet we never have before – the barely perceptible; if you blinked or sneezed you missed it. ‘Sprinkle’ is not a forecast category.

The forecast for the day was “showers”. It had dropped like that on the windscreen on the way out to the park - the visible part of the forecast. An on and off day like this reminded me of the perilous but permanent optimism of the meteorological services here, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM). They have a forecasting regime consisting of: “intermittent showers”, light showers, patchy rain, or a little rain, rain easing, thunderstorms occasional….What’s so optimistic about the forecasts is that it takes nothing to forecast showers, which is so often what we get with that forecast.

We can also get nothing in Melbourne when there are a 'thunderstorms' or a 'little rain', or a 'rain increasing' forecast. And some of us, me among them, really pine for rain, dream consciously of it, hope for it (but not the pray-for-it fraternity; that’s another level) with mindless intensity. It’s mindless because rain so seldom comes – well below the average which hoping should cause by chance!

Until today I had looked intensely askance at the BOM for its mindless persistence with their clearly faulty promise – rain is coming. A farmer friend assures me this so (the rain is coming), and I know enough stats to appreciate his point. But, since seeing the BOM as a chief purveyor of local climate hope, my esteem of them has turned around.

So, it occurs to me that the BOM is the patron saint of optimysticals* - a symbol, an exemplar of the type - and so they should be noticed. If you like to help you will send this paean of acknowledgment to anyone you know in the BOM. They probably need more than we to know that others notice their mystical level of optimism, drawing what fantastic hope from it we may.

You may have a favourite optimystical. I’d like to post them. We’d probably have to negotiate a bit to develop a shared standard for them. Once negotiated, you can become an authorised poster on this site in the optimystical stream. Howzat?

* an optimystical is a purveyor of hopes I wished someone would purvey once I heard/understood they were doing it. It is often a counter-intuitive, maybe ironic, communication.

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