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Listening to the news this morning, sounding all blase’ and secular and people-touting, I shook my head at such phrases similar to, “We’re trying to burn off this fog.” “We’re burning off this fog.” Well now, it is high time the media folks started putting such talk aside and out and over for good.


Thunderstorm (Photo credit: m.prinke)

Might as well come to terms with it, media people. We might blame the weather for this or that, but a lot of what goes on is natural and not of our doing or anything we can control. Talk of global warming aside, Earth has seen many cycles of warming and freezing, spurts of human activity and changes in where industrialization and collections of people happen through the centuries. Our position in the Milky Way galaxy changes as well, so there are varying amounts of dust and light and gas that are factors too.

Certainly we do not “burn off the fog”, “drive the snow out”, or “get rid of the rain” any more than we cause the sun to move or the Earth to rotate. Think we can bring the rain?


The Sun, a middle-aged yellow star which is over 100 Earths wide, provides the heat engine to drive the weather. Water vapor, winds, dust in the atmosphere, and air pressure affect that which we have come to know as weather. It happens every day and can be described in dozens if not hundreds of ways. We have sunny days, hot days, drought; we have floods, tornadoes, dust storms and bow-echo thunderstorms that can spread damage over wide swaths of the nation. We study the weather but we cannot bid it to come or go.

We can certainly do our best to take precautions regarding the weather or other natural occurrences. Citizens and officials can try to work together to make living areas safer against floods, fires, tornadoes and winds. We can be careful of where we build, we can control the brush around our homes and keep our parks cleaner, and we can work with those in the sciences to develop materials and building techniques that will at least make an attempt at keeping buildings safer against severe storms.

In Nashville one year I was home in my circa-1917 bungalow, sturdy with a stone foundation and first floor walls, with the storm door tightly shut and bolted, when a severe storm blew in, and wow did it ever blow through! 90 to 100 mile an hour winds whistled through and made that eerie noise one might hear in a hurricane; after all, those are hurricane -force winds. Lightning scorched the skies east of the city for a long time after that.

Now lightning is one of those unpredicatables- who knows where it will strike; though when it does it is about 40,000 degrees and bolts can be an inch wide (maybe they can be more than that?). Who among us knows how big or small hailstones will be until we see and measure them? You can tell there is hail in a storm by the odd greenish-gray coloration seen in the clouds when the storms are coming. A hail -producing storm from the distance has a line of green under the cloud. I noted that phenomena once north of Nashville. Sure enough, as the weather report talked about the storm there was a thin line of greenish-gray under that cloud miles away!

So you weather people can “try as hard as we can to burn off that dense fog” or “get rid of the rain and let the sun come out” but wouldn’t it be best just to stick to plain talk and give the weather forecast and conditions as you see them and let go the small talk? Put aside the “we are trying hard to get rid of the fog” bit and just be plain and logical in your talks- no blame, none of the human factor, just the facts straight up and tell people what the conditions are. Make the scientific part of it fun and challenging too, for people who want to know the meteorology facts and stats, rather as the forecasters on WGN in Chicago do.

Weather can be fun and challenging to study, as anything natural or in the universe can be, with the remembrance that we did not create it and all in all we do not influence it. Nature is ours to enjoy and take care of to the best of our abilities.

What can you do to keep your environment clean, fresh, enjoyable and wonderful? As you study it, think about it.

The fog is rolling

The fog is rolling (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

Divi Logan for EDUSHIRTS, Nashville and Chicago, 2012.