Friday, June 6, 2008

AccuWeather Could Ruin Your Vacation

AccuWeather sucks. Like, big time sucks. They’re always wrong, and I know this because they are the weather information widget on my Mac and I consult them a lot. I don’t know why I bother, since they have the worst weather information on the internets.

So when it came time for my Scandinavian vacation, I sent my friend AccuWeather’s forecast for the cities on our itinerary, with the codicil that “they are notoriously wrong.” Sure enough, Scandinavia is in the midst of a heat wave, which AccuWeather failed to predict. It was 85 degrees today; AccuWeather had forecast a high of 68. In fact, it’s been about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than what AccuWeather had forecast for our entire trip.

They were not only wrong, they could have ruined my vacation if I hadn’t ignored their advice and packed for much warmer weather. (Sadly, my friend did not, which is why we were shopping our first day in Oslo and she fell and tore a ligament in her ankle. But, that was a few threads a go ).

I only bring this up because I’m remembering AccuWeather once had a friend in the U.S. Senate who tried to subject us all to the sucky information coming from AccuWeather.

From the Memory Hole:
The bill, introduced last week by Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., would prohibit federal meteorologists from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and The Weather Channel, which offer their own forecasts through paid services and free ad-supported Web sites.


But Barry Myers, AccuWeather's executive vice president, said the bill would improve public safety by making the weather service devote its efforts to hurricanes, tsunamis and other dangers, rather than duplicating products already available from the private sector.

"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Myers, whose company is based in State College, Pa. Instead, he said, "It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing forecasts of 'warm and sunny.'"

Er, yeah. Like your company has done so much better? You nearly ruined my vacation.

This bill was such an appallingly bad idea that bloggers and columnists couldn’t understand why Santorum was dumb enough to think it would fly in the first place. Maybe, as Slate writer Timothy Noah observed:

...[T]he common denominator to contemporary conservative thought isn't ideology at all, but rather, the crude imperative for big government to shovel as many special privileges as possible to big corporations. Adam Smith would be appalled.

Well put.

Vacation ends tomorrow; regular blogging should resume not long after.