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So Much for Predictions

A lot of things (more than we like to admit) are out of man’s hands, beyond his control. One of those things is the weather. Yet, we continue trying to predict or anticipate it. Short of that, we complain about it.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that when your local TV meteorologist starts giving the five- or seven-day forecast on Monday, the prediction is one thing, but by Friday the forecast has changed, sometimes a little but often a lot. The farther out the forecast extends, the less accurate it proves to be. And whenever the outlook is for a whole year, it’s really just a shot in the dark, anyone’s guess is as good as anyone else’s.


A couple of months ago, I made an impulse purchase, something I seldom do (wink, wink). I picked up a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac. (I’ve never been able to decide whether old in that title refers to the farmer or to the almanac.) When I got home, I immediately turned to the weather forecast for the Southeast (North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia) for December 2018, since we all have so many activities and travel plans that can be affected by the weather during that month.

For December 10 to 12, it stated confidently, “Rain and snow, then sunny, cold.” As a writer who studies the market listings of a lot of publications, I know that the lead time for the almanac, that annual compilation of “new, useful, & entertaining matter,” is at least a year, perhaps even longer (as much as two years) for some parts of it. So I reacted to that prediction: “Aw, how can they know so far in advance?” and moved on. Other people, “experts,” were saying, “We have never had snow here [in South Carolina] before Christmas.” Even a “white Christmas” here is extremely rare. The average date for a first snowfall is usually sometime in January.


But on December 9, it snowed here. Surprisingly, the almanac was only one day off. Not bad for predicting a year or more in advance. And it snowed a lot. For here. I measured 8 to 9 inches on the hood of my truck, and that wasn’t in a drift. (The accompanying photo was taken early during the snowfall.) Only a 25-minute drive north of us, they had 17 to 20 inches. That’s a lot at any time during the winter down here. And it’s unprecedented this early in December. Technically, it isn’t even winter yet.

That set me to thinking about what the Bible says about the weather. Its statements on weather are perhaps more broad and general but nonetheless accurate and true. It says that as long as the world exists, we will always have distinct seasons, each with its own unique and defining characteristics. (See Genesis 8:22.)

We will always have summer, when it’s hot, and winter, when it’s cold, and periods of transition in between: spring, when things revive and grow, and fall, when things bear fruit and proceed toward dormancy. The various degrees of temperature for each season may vary, but each will retain its unique qualities. Summers will always tend toward hotter temperatures, winters toward colder temps. They might seem shorter or longer.

A few summers in a row that are warmer than normal will make us wonder if we’ll ever have fall. A few colder-than-normal winters will shift our wonderment to the idea of eternal winters. But over the long haul, everything will balance out. The distinct seasons will always be with us. One year will have alarmists crying, “Global warming!” but the next year will have them predicting another catastrophic millennial ice age.

Truth be told, they don’t know. They can only collect historical data. We can’t control the weather. It will be what it will be.

I’m reminded of James Whitcomb Riley’s poem “Wet-Weather Talk,” which tells us what our mindset should be, especially considering our utter inability to dictate (or predict) the weather. He wrote, in part,

It hain’t no use to grumble and complane; It’s jest as cheap and easy to rejoice.— When God sorts out the weather and sends rain, W’y, rain’s my choice.

In short, take whatever weather God gives you and be happy and thankful for it. If it gets a little colder than you like, or it snows more than predicted, don’t complain or worry yourself trying to alter Nature. Put on another layer. If it gets a littler warmer or rains more, or less, than historical records indicate is normal, take off a layer or turn the AC to a cooler setting.

And writers, pay attention to your target market’s lead time.

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