This is a test…

2008-06-06 22:53:03.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Meteorologist

What do you see?

I enjoy the fog, I will admit it. It is not that I do not like our views. It isn’t because fog weather observations are easier than non fog observations. And although I like the cool, damp experience fog provides, that is not the main reason either. I like the fog because everything becomes fairly monochromatic to me and the rest of the people around me. To a person with excellent vision, this might not be that great but for extremely color blind people like me, shades of grey are great. I don’t have to think about anything and I don’t have to trick my mind into “reading” the correct colors, which is how I have dealt with this problem. But this isn’t to say that I still do not have problems on a daily basis with my color blindness.

Forecasting is one issue daily. Weather models are a statistical interpretation of what the weather will be in a region. Most of the time, color is used to represent changes. These changes might be temperatures (most commonly), pressure, thickness, clouds, or humidity just to name a few. I have to look at these models and interpret what will be going on for the day. Since college, I have learned ways to look at these colors and interpret them correctly by finding a reference point color and working off from that. And luckily, every university that outputs a model outputs their own color scheme, so it is just a matter of finding, or in some cases changing, a color scheme until something works.

Weather radar is an occasional issue. When Doppler radar sees precipitation, it interprets intensity using a green, yellow, red scale. All of these do not work for me. But luckily the weather radar program we use (Weather Tap Radar Lab HD) allows the user to tweak the scales to their liking. I usually do not do this because others at work use this program, but instead I look for natural contrasts. If it is all green with a giant red dot, usually this will indicate more intense rain. And if I concentrate like looking at an old Magic Eye picture (remember the 90’s?), I can usually see what is going on.

The last major issue is dressing myself. I can usually work around this by picking colors I know but there are times when I dress in some interesting colors. But usually I don’t even think about what I am wearing, if it feels and smells clean and still looks ok, it gets worn on or off the mountain. Luckily my outerwear at work matches everyone else I work with since we all wear the same LL Bean red (or at least “red” to the “normals” out there).

So where do you stand? The picture with this comment is from what is called the “Ishihara Color Blindness Test.” It is a collection or 38 colored dot plates that have a number or line hidden within the dots. They are commonly administered to test red-green blindness but they can also indicate the need for further testing for other colors. This is how it all started for me. So what do you see in the attached picture? 74? 21? Or nothing? If you see 74, you have normal color vision. If you see 21, you are possibly red-green color blind. If you see nothing (like me) you should not be able to read any number. If you want to test yourself even further, visit this site with a “mini” test with explanations on 24 plates and/or visit an optometrist for further testing.


Ryan Knapp,  Meteorologist

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