Authors of the StormMeteorologists and the Culture of Prediction

Authors of the StormMeteorologists and the Culture of Prediction

Gary Fine

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226249520

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Whether it is used as an icebreaker in conversation or as the subject of serious inquiry, “the weather” is one of the few subjects that everyone talks about. And though we recognize the faces that bring us the weather on television, how government meteorologists and forecasters go about their jobs is rarely scrutinized. Given recent weather-related disasters, it is time we find out more. This book offers an inside look at how meteorologists and forecasters predict the weather. Based on field observation and interviews at the Storm Prediction Center in Oklahoma, the National Weather Service in Washington, D.C., and a handful of midwestern outlets, the book finds a supremely hard-working, insular clique of professionals who often refer to themselves as a “band of brothers.” In this book, we learn their lingo, how they “read” weather conditions, how forecasts are written, and, of course, how those messages are conveyed to the public. Weather forecasts, the book shows, are often shaped as much by social and cultural factors inside local offices as they are by approaching cumulus clouds. By opening up this world to us, the book offers a glimpse of a crucial profession.