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Weather: Slipping out of control

Posted 1/21/2009 7:26am by Leaf Myczack.

It has become apparent that the National Weather Service (NWS) has lost the ability to accurately predict the long range weather forecast. Utilizing computer modeling based upon historical records and current data, the NWS makes seasonal predictions about future tempertures and rainfall for the various geographical areas of the country. Farmers, such as ourselves, have come to rely on these long-range forecasts in order to plan agricultural activities.

Here in the Southeast, the NWS predicted a warmer than "normal" Winter for 2008-2009. This information influenced our decision to delay our Fall planting schedule in order to focus on two urgent construction projects. Another factor in our decision to delay, was the exceptionally dry weather during September and October. In order to sprout our planted seed, we would have to irrigate, which is a very time consuming activity. So we limited our early planting to a few plots that we could easily water. The rest of the planting took place in mid-November, a viable option if the warm Winter forecast was reliable.

Winter came early and harshly here in East Tennessee, around the third week of November. Less than a week after we sowed down turnip seed in our recently de-rocked barn site garden, we had our first hard freeze. The emerging seedlings were hammered by successive hard freezes interspersed by periods of heavy rainfall that saturated the soil. With each artic blast, more of the seedlings, as well as the older, established plants were killed. Our crop losses for the late planting are nearly 100%. 

After missing the mark on the first part of the Winter, the NWS revised their forecast to state that the second half of the Winter (2009) would be mild as earlier predicted. However, January to date has been the hardest Winter we have experienced since moving to the farm in January 2004. Many days have seen temperatures unable to rise above freezing, while nights have seen single digit lows. For the first time ever, ice formed on the cistern water in our greenhouse. Far from being warmer than usual, this Winter has been just the opposite. 

In spite of advanced computer and radar technology, meteorologists seem to be floundering around blindly while trying to get a handle on the record breaking weather anomalies that just keep coming. It is our educated opinion that climate change is now the tail wagging the dog. Scientific climate data indicates that the accelerated melting of glaciers and the polar ice caps is wreaking havoc on the intra-planetary mechanisms that moderate climate swings.

The rapacious destruction of the Earth's forests, combined with the wholesale burning of fossil fuels worldwide, is beginning to make itself felt in various and unpredictable ways. Persistent regional drought, re-occurring regional floods, ravaging, year-round forest fires, dying coral reefs, rising sea levels, massive-strength hurricanes, all are pointing to a climate system whip-sawing out of control.

Many learned and well respected scientists believe we have crossed the threshold and will have to ride out the climate-changing consequences as best we can. Fortunately, the U.S. now has a new presidential leader, who in sharp contrast to his ignorant predecessor, values scientific fact and the need to rapidly switch to green, Earth-friendly energy sources.

Only time will tell if we waited too long before acting, but at least we seem to be waking up from our coal and oil addicted stupor. In the meantime, it is in our best short and long term interest to do everything possible to lessen the negative human impact upon our only home, planet Earth!


-farmer leaf