FEBRUARY 5, 2009 4:48PM

Happy National Weatherman's Day!

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Happy National Weatherman's Day!

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) “February 5 is National Weatherman's Day, commemorating the birth of John Jeffries in 1744. Jeffries, one of America's first weather observers, began taking daily weather observations in Boston in 1774 and he took the first balloon observation in 1784. This is a day to recognize the men and women who collectively provide Americans with the best weather, water, and climate forecasts and warning services of any nation.”

Dr. Jeffries is an odd person to honor with a national holiday.  Although he was born in Boston and educated at Harvard, Jeffries was notorious for serving as an officer in the British army during the American Revolution and for appearing as the chief witness for the defense in the trial of British soldiers following the Boston Massacre.  He fled to London after the American victory and did not return to the United States until 1789, when a hostile mob of Revolutionary War veterans forced him to cancel a series of lectures on anatomy.

I'm celebrating National Weatherman's Day by watching a major storm gather force in Southern California (yes, we have weather here, just not much of the nasty kind). 

I also plan to read the weather descriptions in Mark Twain's The American Claimant, in which he explains that although "weather is necessary to a narrative of human experience," he prefers not to break up the pace of the story with it, and so provides a preface containing various weather descriptions that readers can insert into the novel if and when they choose.

NOAA tells us to celebrate National Weatherman's Day by appreciating the people who forecast our weather: "Many of us take weather information for granted. Turn on a light switch, you get light. Turn on your television or radio, or check a web site and you get the weather forecast. It’s easy to forget that around the clock, dedicated meteorologists and weathercasters are vigilantly creating forecasts to help you plan your day, and issuing warnings to help keep you safe."

In that spirit, I plan to call my cousin Geoff, meteorologist for WTNH-TV in New Haven, Connecticut, where the temperature is 23 degrees and will go down to zero tonight, and tell him how beautiful the weather is in Orange County. 

He loves me for that.

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