31 May 2005

This Blog is Officially METRIC

Posted by Dan Satterfield

One of these days I am going to do my whole weathercast in metric units. I can hear the howls now….

Yup, This blog is metric. By the time any Meteorology student graduates there are a few things he can recite in his sleep…The hydrostatic equation (don’t ask!) and metric units are among them.

Some observations about Fahrenheit versus Celsius:

One of the main tasks of the weather system we use to produce our on air weather graphics, is to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit!

The NWS converted several years back to the world standard METAR observation code and that was the end of Fahrenheit. Yes the public forecasts are still produced in the old style but the data flows around the world and across this country in Celsius now.

The digital remote thermometer on my wall at home is in Celsius too.

There are, I believe, only 3 countries that still use Fahrenheit.
Myanmar, Liberia and the USA.
I do not believe that Liberia has a weather service that issues forecasts. Not sure about Myanmar. So if you travel to these countries you will easily understand the forecast (if you speak the local language!). Anywhere else, and that includes Canada and Mexico and your forecast will be given in Metric units.

When doing calculations in school, I found that understanding metric was a big advantage. I could “tell” if my answer made sense. Many students who were used to the English system could not.

I have wondered if the above fact might be part of the reason that American students do so poorly in Math and Science compared to the rest of the industrialized world. In the latest report, USA students ranked 18th or 22nd! (Depending on how you look at the data.)

Metric may or may not be a factor, but it is a scary statistic!

I cannot recall how many times people have come up to me over the years and mentioned there love of weather and Meteorology. When asked why they did not pursue it as a career, I almost always get the same answer…”Couldn’t handle all that math!”

If Celsius confuses you, don’t feel too bad. I still have to convert our digital thermometer reading into Fahrenheit every day for my wife!