JB’s Journal: Partly Cloudy vs. Partly Sunny

| September 3, 2013 @ 2:30 pm

What is the difference between the forecast terms “partly cloudy” or “partly sunny.” Well, you tell me. I think it is more or less a personal opinion. However, it became a sticking point between a couple of forecasters at the old National Weather Service Birmingham office at Birmingham Airport. I was involved and I did not want to be.

Back in those days, we would sometimes get an official memorandum from the USWB Regional Office in Ft. Worth or even the national headquarters in Washington. One day this memorandum came in from Ft. Worth suggesting that we try to liven up the wording on our forecasts somewhat to keep it from being so boring from day to day. Our MIC (Meteorologist in Charge) came out of his office and read the memorandum to us and said he thought it was a great idea. It so happened that I was about ready to do the afternoon forecast for Zones 1, 2, 3 and 4 and I asked if it would be okay to go ahead and make the change. He said, “Absolutely.” Back then, the Birmingham area of responsibility was only four zones. I made the forecast and issued it on the Alabama Weather Wire and also on the automatic telephones and several other outlets. Little did I know that the forecaster following me was going to blow his stack when he discovered what I had done. He ripped apart my official forecast that was on a clipboard, he redid the forecast on the statewide Alabama teletype system and rerecorded all of the telephone recordings. He said that he didn’t believe in any such changes. He and I were always good friends, so there were no hard feelings. However, for months on head, several of the guys I work the night shift with got to joking about what we were going to say when we issued forecasts in the middle of the night. One of them suggested, “partly moony” or “mostly moony.” Even then life went on with all the ups and downs.

I hope to have several more stories like this over the next few months. Most of them will eventually wind up in my book, “Scattered Brains and Scattered Showers.”


Category: Alabama's Weather

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