Weather Man

I once read on an Aussie's blog about his trip to the U.S. that "Americans are obsessed with weather." Well, after reading some of my fellow ex-pats' recent blog entries (look here, for example), maybe the bloke had a point. I try to bite my tongue about all this, as I am a confessed Weather Channel addict (going through major withdrawal), but I can no longer hold back. For those of you who still live in a place with great weather maps, let me show you an example of a typical forecast map in Australia:
It's called a synoptic chart, and you do sometimes see these on American forecasts. But, notice that it's quite difficult for the average person to interpret how these lines are going to affect things. In my prior visits to Oz, I have learned that a cluster of pressure gradients close to one another means that it will be windy, and a Low is usually a sign of rain. But troughs (the dashed lines) are a new concept for me, and I don't really see how this is going to give me a reliable view of future weather. For comparison's sake, look at these Weather Channel maps:

Here, in fact, is the forecast for the rest of the week in Brisbane from my Weather Channel substitute, the WeatherZone. Note the distinctions between "Rain periods," "Rain at times," and "Showers about." I have also seen "Rain easing.."
  • Wednesday. Rain at times. Moderate to fresh S to SE winds
  • Thursday. Rain periods
  • Friday. Rain periods
  • Saturday. Showers about
  • Sunday. Fine
Maybe I could start a new business here involving nicely coloured weather maps with more detailed information. Hmm...