Wxworms

2009-06-22 16:52:38.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

Marty looking over an undercast from June 19th.

Back in April, I was reading an article by Stephen King in Entertainment Weekly about his trouble with Earworms. After reading the article, I realized I have been “infected” by Earworms many times in my life and in fact most of you reading this have also caught the “bug” at some point. But fear not as this bug is not contagious per say nor is it even a physical entity. Instead, an earworm is the term for a portion of a song that repeats compulsively in your head for some period of time. If you’re saying you never have been inflicted, let me list some common earworm songs (and if the titles aren’t ringing a bell, look for them on youtube for a reminder): Mickey by Toni Basil, Who Let the Dogs Out by Baha Men, MMMBop by Hanson, Hard Days Night by Beatles, It’s a Small World from Disneyland, or the Sesame Street Theme song.

The down side of earworms is they never fully leave your head. Eventually, you become distracted or get infected with a new earworm and the old earworm lies dormant only to be resuscitated by hearing the tune some years later or by the mere mention of them. In this case, if you read (or looked up) any of the six songs above and are now humming them in your head; I am sorry. My intention wasn’t to get you reinfected with an earworm of yesteryear but to define what an earworm is.

But, how does an earworm bore in to memory in the first place? Sometimes it takes one listen and it is instantly stored but other times it takes time, like a slow bore. You hear some new pop hit on the radio, and you think, “Well, that’s kind of a fun song.” Then you start hearing it over and over as it becomes more and more popular on the charts and the radio. You begin to subconsciously learn the repeating choruses and sing along like a two year old singing the ABC’s. But after enough exposure to the song, every time it comes on the radio, you immediately change the stations just to keep yourself from singing a song that has worn out its welcome in your mind.

And this is similarly what is happening with our weather pattern. But instead of an earworm I will call the weather pattern a “wxworm” (pronounced weather-worm). I call it this because it is a weather pattern that repeats compulsively over an area for some period of time. The current repeating weather pattern over the northeast is similar to the slow bore of the earworm. The weather pattern was first experienced on Thursday as it approached from the west and I thought “Cool, we are finally going to get some moisture and weather on our shift.” Then it slid off the coast of Cap Cod and planted itself on Saturday where it has remained until today and where it looks to remain until the middle of this week. It is a well stacked low pressure system that is sitting of the coast, continuously spinning in low level moisture with a pinwheel effect of vorticity blobs that brings periodic drizzle and rain to the summits.

The weather pattern with these types of storms is so repetitive that my forecasts are what I am coining “copy and paste-ers”. I write the forecast for one 12 hour period then highlight it, right click and select copy, go to the next 12 hour period and hit paste and then the last 12 hour period and hit paste again and my forecast is done. To those listening or reading the forecast, the repetition of “Cloudy w/ drizzle and rain showers, temperatures in the 40s and winds 35-50 mph w/ higher gusts” begins to bore into the minds and soon they too are infected with the wxworm I have been living with the past few days.

While overall I am not a huge fan of wxworms, there are some upsides mixed with the downsides of these weather patterns. But let me list the downsides first: repetitive weather forecast (as stated already), getting soaked within two seconds of stepping outside, plenty of unprepared hikers, slick rocks, missing out on sunrise/sunsets, and missing out on the two longest days of the year (today and tomorrow with 944 minutes each). But the upsides are: repetitive forecasts (it makes me 100% accurate), getting soaked within two seconds of stepping outside (it’s kind of fun and tests out how quickly my clothing can dry as well as testing out our LL Bean gear), the summit is getting some additional precipitation to add to our yearly total that closes out for the season this month, it brings an appreciation to the clearing we do experience, it makes for a more personalized setting for our visitors as there are far less people up here, and it allows for plenty of puddle jumping.

So, for the time being, the wxworm is burrowed in in a repetitive fashion. All we can do is go along with it and wait it out until a new weather pattern moves in and replaces it, which looks like Thursday at the earliest. So maybe to fill the free time I have after the easy forecasts, I can start singing some weather related songs so I can have some earworms to go along with the wxworms. Such hits as: Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head by BJ Thomas, Umbrella by Rihanna, or Here Comes the Rain Again by the Eurythmics. Then when I am down in the valley and the weather pattern changes I can finally sing I Can See Clearly Now (the Rain is Gone) by Johnny Nash.

 

Ryan Knapp,  Staff Meteorologist

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