Month: August 2011

Fool Me Once… Weather.com, Tennis and the Notorious Irene


5-Day ForecastA few short years ago, I played tennis once a year, in Montauk, with my mother. That has changed. A quick count of the dots on back of my Central Park Tennis permit shows 24+ visits to the courts beginning in June when my physical therapist gave me permission to return to the clay following my trapeze injury in December…

In any case, the point is that I have become, one might say, obsessed with tennis. And, as such, I have become similarly preoccupied with the weather.com iPhone app (despite the fact that prior versions have been known to do all kinds of weird things to the phone, including crashing programs and the overall device). Often the first thing I do – before getting out of bed in the morning – is check the weather: current, hour by hour, day by day, and, as of this weekend, severe alerts and videos. And I have been known to repeat this process many times throughout the day

I have come to learn a number of things. First, as I should have recalled from my education in statistics, % likelihood of rain is a misleading statistic. 80% chance of rain – or even 100% chance of rain, as is predicted for Sunday – does not mean that it will rain all day. In fact, a 5-minute passing shower fulfills the prediction of rain but does little to impede my tennis other than causing me to regrip my racket more often, and to consider leaving my iPhone in my locker.  (In fact, the photo to the right was taken first thing in the morning on a day that included hours of tennis that very afternoon.)

I’ve also learned – much against my nature – to be optimistic. 30% chance of rain, as my friend Gary pointed out, means 70% chance that it won’t rain.

So where does this leave me on the eve of Hurricane Irene’s visit to the Northeast corridor? Unfortunately or fortunately, I feel skeptical. 100% chance of rain on Sunday has, in fact, compelled me to cancel my plans to go to the US Open to watch the players practice, and has motivated me to select an indoor venue for my birthday dinner – despite my publicly stated summer birthday policy. However, 4-11% chance of a hurricane and 72% chance of tropical storm conditions has not “at this point in time” deterred me from going forward with said birthday plans, or inspired me to give up my prime parking spot to return my car to the garage.

I hear warnings and forecasts on New York One and from friends and family on Facebook – including one in Hong Kong, who implores me not to underestimate the storm. But I look at the maps and zones and am not convinced. Nor are my porter and doorman. So, I’ve decided to be a weather optimist – at least for the moment. This is not meant to be a recommendation for others in more precarious situations, and, well is subject to change, but I’m curious to see how this weekend unfolds… so much so that I’ll surely be closely connected to my weather.com app – at least until the cell towers get knocked out and I run out of power….