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Umbrella Forecasters

Andrew Freedman @ 12:14 PM

I had a weather forecasting revelation as light rain fell on my walk to the Metro this morning. The most accurate forecasters in D.C. (aside from your expert team of course) are the umbrella salesmen who suddenly appear whenever rain may occur. I've seen them out there on sunny, hot summer days, with passersby wondering aloud what they are doing advertising umbrellas when there is such beautiful weather. But sure enough, a few hours later, the skies let lose as a line of thunderstorms moves through. Of course, it's a pretty good bet that thunderstorms will blossom on a humid Washington summer afternoon, but the curious thing about the umbrella folks is that they are only out on select days, and more often than not, those are the days it rains. I think someone should do an in depth study to compare the accuracy of the "Umbrella Weather Service" to the NWS and TV folks. The results may put the professionals to shame.

In my opinion, the UWS is a hidden weather asset in D.C.. I have visions of these unsung forecasters, who quickly transition from selling Krispy Kreme donuts to rain deflection devices, studying atmospheric soundings and computer models at night, trying to determine the chances for liquid precipitation the next day. Maybe they have their own umbrella computer models?

One other thing to note is I have never witnessed a single person buy an umbrella from a street salesperson in my three years living in this city. I am guilty of walking right past them during a rainstorm without an umbrella. For some reason I'd rather get soaked the shell out $10 bucks for an umbrella. It's stupid, but true. Also, I think they'd be more effective if they held up signs instead of yelling "Umbrella!" A suggested slogan: "It's gonna rain. I guarantee it, or your money back. Well, maybe not back, but I'll tell you I'm sorry my forecast was wrong."

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