So where are those May flowers again?

Our view: When a wet spring gives rise to forecasts of a cool, wet summer, the best answer for the weather weary is to ignore the prognosticators

May 03, 2011

Surely the worst example of junk science is that old canard about April showers bringing May flowers. The showers came, but the evidence of any additional blooms is anecdotal at best. Better the ditty should go something like, "April showers bring May sinus infections."

Our rain-soaked April doesn't look all that bad on paper: Less than one inch more rain than is customary during the month and an average daily high temperature well above the historical average, according to the National Weather Service data gathered at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, so it was warm enough.

And Maryland residents ought to be happy to have dodged the horrific tornadoes that plagued much of the Southeast. It's one thing to be stuck indoors in a downpour; it's quite another to suddenly lose one's possessions — or worse, a neighbor, friend or loved one.

But when lumped together with a cool, rainy March, the overall effect has been to make the Mid-Atlantic's spring seem wet and miserable by any standard. Baseball games postponed, yard work behind schedule, dreariness seemingly in abundance.

Given that reality, the latest forecast is grim, indeed. The three-month outlook, according to the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, is for a summer that is both cooler and wetter than the norm.

Did we really need to hear that? Not that the agency's pronouncement makes weather a certainty or anything, but c'mon. We could use a little sunshine to brighten up our day in the Old Line State. This is not what the doctor ordered.

Oh, we could list the good things that a cool, wet June, July and August could bring, like bumper crops for farmers and lower air-conditioning bills for the rest of us. The region's reservoirs are brimming with water, so drought restrictions seem unlikely this year. Fewer 100-degree days are always welcome. A little rain does wonders for air quality, too.

But the best things about summer in Maryland are days on the Ocean City beach, sailing on the Chesapeake Bay, sitting in Oriole Park at Camden Yards on a starry night, or eating steamed crabs on an outdoor picnic table. Dampness brings little to the party.

Complaining about the weather changes little, of course. Better to complain about the forecasting. Perhaps the National Weather Service is an ideal place for Congress to further cut the budget. Ignorance can be bliss.

Or, here's an alternative: Pay attention to other forecasts. The travel industry recently released its predictions for summer and sees an increase in tourism. But that probably means higher airfares, too.

The forecast for fashion this summer is lightweight silks and linens, which is good for dry cleaners. Foodies expect to see a rise in green markets but also convenience food. Hollywood studios are predicting blockbusters this summer (but then again, they always do).

You can find positive and negative forecasts for earnings from the various experts on Wall Street. No surprise there. Pay no attention to economic forecasts, as lately they've been as gloomy as the weather, though you wouldn't know it from the Dow.

In other words, the outlook for pretty much everything is mixed, whether it's weather or mortgage interest rates. Maybe that's just the nature of life in the 21st century. For every silver lining, there's a cloud — and somebody to predict its arrival.

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