I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping to see all Kristy posts here (among the disappointed? Me), but I did return from Oz and apparently I have to take up my portion of the slack.
As with most cases of international travel, I learned a few things that maybe I should have known, found some more things to be jealous of Australia for having (TimTams), and found some things about right here at home that I’d taken for granted.
Like the weather.
Not the actual events in weather–rain, sun, what have you–but weather reports.
I’m a product of tornado alley, a place that kind of turns one into a weather-forecast connoisseur. It’s not enough to have the high and low temperature. I didn’t spend so many elementary school science classes learning the markings for a stationary front for nothing. I want hourly temperature forecasts. I want satellite. I want radar. I want wind speeds. I want to know what’s coming at me a minimum of 2 days before it gets here. By damnit, I can’t control the weather, but I can sure as hell know what’s coming at me.
Exposing me to Australia’s excuse for weather reports was kind of like taking an oenophile and locking them up with nothing but Manischewitz. In the three weeks I spent down there not once did I see a tv weather report (or hear a radio weather report) that was even as comprehensive as Al Roker’s reports on the Today show. I nearly lost it.
First of all, if you’re not in a major city (or at least a major city for your region–after all, Alice Springs is half the size of my suburban town), you’re not going to get jack from most sources. Sometime we’d catch a bit on ABC which would show a few more places, including one that was only an hour down the road from my parents and thus a moderately appropriate approximation of the temperatures they would experience.
Second, assuming you catch some manner of report that relates to an area near you, you’re going to get a grand package of the high, the low, if it’s rain or shine, and, if you are very lucky, a synoptic chart with the wind directions. No 3 day forecast. No “power doppler” that can show the hook echo so you know exactly where the tornado is. No cadre of amateur weather nerds who send in photos of the snow fall totals in their backyards. Want to know if it’s going to rain tomorrow? Well, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow, and if it’s wet, you’ll know–they’re not going to spoil you.
I’m not sure if it’s just broadcast media that’s so devoid of weather reports. I didn’t manage to get into the news agency to pick up a paper. And I know there’s probably something more comprehensive online–but internet access is not as ubiquitous there as it is here (and sure isn’t as cheap). All I know is that if you’re stuck with radio and TV only, it’s a damn good thing tornadoes aren’t as prevalent there.
I realize that between the 10 year drought the Australian continents been dealing with (nothing like weather monotony), and the low population density, it’s probably not easy to justify the kind of infrastructure you need for the 10 day look ahead in every corner of the country. I can accept that.
But it made me all the more delighted to be back here at home where my local weather-dude has been refining his prediction for a winter weather blast twice a day for the past two days, to the point that I knew that if I want beer, I need to get it by 6pm tomorrow. Poor Australia. How do you know when you need to get the beer today to avoid going out in the storm tomorrow????