A simple test.

2011-04-03 22:21:27.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Frost on a window (cool but not comment related).

I’m going to start todays comment off with a test. It is a simple test and shouldn’t take too long. Accuracy with this test is more important than speed; since I’m not there to administer it, you will have all the time you will need to complete it. Before beginning, read through the test once carefully to make sure you understand all the directions.

1. Print this page out on a sheet of paper.

2. In the instructions above question 1, circle every word that begins with the letter “A”.

3. Underline two nouns in the instructions.

4. Count and write down the number of three-letter words in steps 1, 2, 3, and 5.

5. Cross out all punctuation on this test.

6. Fill in the center of all the O’s, D’s, and E’s on this test.

7. Do not follow and of the first six numbered directions and continue on to the rest of the comment.

So, how’d you do? Did you jump the gun and follow each step in order or did you do what the instructions said to do and read through the test before starting it? If you followed the instructions and read it all, pat yourself on the back. If you followed each step in order, don’t feel bad, I did the same thing when I first took a test like this. When I was in school (K-college), a variation of this test made its way into my curriculum several times. Sometimes it was humorous having us screaming or trying to lick our elbows and other times it was full of questions we wouldn’t know until much later in the course. Sometimes it was easy to identify the tests and without reading through the test I would skip to the end but other times it would catch me off guard. Either way, it was a great way to teach how to be accurate, how to be precise, how to be thorough, how to read and follow instructions, how to look at something as a whole and not as individual steps, and how to take tests better. These lessons all play out on the summit in one form or another.

Reading through something entirely is used in reading recipes for example. It is always good to read through the entire recipe before starting because nothing is worst than getting half way through a recipe only to find out that you need to wait several hours for dough to rise or for something to marinate. This is something I tell all new volunteers up here to do since it is a common rookie mistake. Similarly, I tell the rookies to look and plan ahead. I point out to look through the fridges, freezers and pantries up here and see what we have since what we have will have to last the entire week we are up here. You don’t want to use up all the bell peppers in a salad the first night if you need them for fajitas on Monday. Nor do you want to start a recipe only to find that you are missing several ingredients you need to finish it.

Accuracy and precision are two things that a few observers and interns know pretty well up here. For example, most interns have a project while they are up here and it is important for them to not only look over the data they are pouring over with accuracy and precision but also relay that data to the future interns or observers in an accurate and precise way. For instance, our intern Rebecca is writing up the entire history of our pitot. As she is finding out, past write ups were erroneous, inaccurate and imprecise or they were missing huge gaps of data. While she seems to be doing a good job at making a coherent database of all things pitot, there have been several times where we’ve had to discuss where certain numbers may have come from or what other data meant. Even after reading through the manual, it makes you think some of the writers and reviewers didn’t even read through the entire manual themselves.

In some ways, this test above is a good tool in relating how to read our weather data as well. I just finished up March’s weather summary and some of the numbers are down. While it might look bad to some, to me, it isn’t that bad yet. It’s just another month in our weather year that goes from July 1, 2010 until June 30, 2011. To read anything into the numbers of one month or of the months so far is like doing the instructions in order in the test above with number 7 not yet being available since it is three months away. Yes, this month was 11.5 inches below normal in expected snowfall but last year March was 20.9 inches below normal for snowfall during the month. And the seasonal snowfall so far this year (July 2010-March 2011) is 204.4 inches, only 51.9 inches below normal which is actually higher than last years 189.2 inches (67.1 inches below normal) at this same time for the same period. But with three months remaining, that deficit could diminish or get worst than last years. I’m not going to read too much into any numbers quite yet until I can read all the numbers as a whole. So before you start looking at our numbers and blaming it on this factor (el Nino) or that (the Flying Spaghetti Monster), let the summits year close out first then start tackling what might be going on. I’m just as curious as you are but I want to get to the end of the year so I can relay my thoughts accurately and precisely, or at least as best as I can.

And since I can’t think of a good way to end this comment, I will end it with an extra credit step:

8. When you finish this comment, please do not disrupt your peers or those administering the test. Turn your screen off, go outside, get a breath of fresh air and come back tomorrow for a new comment.


Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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