Weather can be so totally cool

Feb. 27, 2003

Today we have a special treat for you weather wonks, or at least for you weather wonks who have a computer. This is extremely cool.

If you are a weather wonk without a computer, you should go straight away and buy one. This is sooo cool.

If you don't want to do that, you'll just have to imagine how sooo cool this is. Maybe you could make a sketch, but it won't be the same.

I have been remiss lately in finding neat-o weather-wonk stuff like this, and I'm sorry about that. Let's face it: There is only so much weather stuff you can do seven days a week before you drift off into knitting dog hair and chocolate-chip cookie problems and stuff like that.

So, anyway, go to That's the Web site of the Phoenix office of the National Weather Service. Oooh, this is good. Then the left side of the opening page, click on "prototype digital forecast."

Up will pop a map of Arizona and parts of Nevada and California. Click anywhere on the map. Not just on one of the identified cities, but just on any old blank spot. Up will pop, depending on where you put the cursor, a seven-day forecast for some spot such as 12 miles northeast of Shonto or nine miles southeast of Pisinemo or Furnace Creek.

How great is that? Especially if you actually know where Shonto or Pisinemo or Furnace Creek is. The first two are somewhere in Arizona; Furnace Creek is in California. No matter.

Nor does it matter that the seven-day forecast for a spot 12 miles northeast of Shonto probably isn't much different than the seven-day forecast for a spot 12 miles southwest of Shonto. It's just cool that they can do this.

I asked David Runyan, a hale weather service fellow well met, just exactly how it is they can do this. And he sent me a thoughtful, well-considered answer that just made my brain hurt.

Basically, what he said was something like, that thanks to advancements in meteorology or computers or reading chicken entrails or whatever, they can now pinpoint a forecast, including wind, temperature and sky cover, down into segments of just a couple miles or so.

Cool or what?

It's a prototype sort of thing now, but Runyan said it should be fully operational sometime later this year. So, as he said, you might be able to be in Scottsdale and use your Internet-accessible cellphone to check the weather in Glendale.

Why you would want to do this, I'm, not sure, but then it's just cool, isn't it?

Reach Thompson at or (602) 444-8612

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