Of predicting weather … spotting big cats … and already seeing Christmas reindeers

Well, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Christiann, my adopted hometown out there east of Edwardsburg, Michigan

The setting sun is slowly drifting to my left, also your left. The grandson is back at school. Costco is starting to sell snow shovels and Christmas decorations, like those lighted reindeers that folks here sink into their front lawns. 

I did notice on my way back from gassing up at Costco that in a church parking lot  was a large van with the painted words ‘‘Pregnancy Testing.’’ I thought “What the ‘H!’’’  especially since the church was on the Indiana side of state line. I will stop here so you can ruminate a bit and formulate your own thoughts.

About that cat

There was a story in MLive that caught my attention. I always read MLive. It delivers the news of Michigan. It’s not just an index of the news like some newspapers. 

This story was about the sighting of a black cat — a mountain lion — roaming about in deepest, darkest Manistee County.

 A guy with a 75mm-250mm lens attached to his camera took a photo of this cat. It looked exactly like the black mountain lion Annie and I saw crossing Indian Lake Rd., north of Sumnerville, Michigan. 

 It was right around October 1990 and this cat came out of a desiccated, brown cornfield and loped catlike — curved tail and all — to a dried cornfield across the road. 

I was driving and was probably first to see this cat at a distance of maybe an eighth of a mile. It was still far larger than any black cat I had ever seen at 600-plus feet. I kept my mouth shut, perhaps for the first time in our marriage.

Finally, Annie piped up “Did you see that cat?” 

“You mean the black panther?” I said. 

Everybody believes Annie. So I let her tell the — ummm — tale.

Friday night lights

This is the time of year when football is on the minds of most people I know. I point to the guys whose butts are hanging off the barstools at the Edwardsburg American Legion.

The Edwardsburg Eddies are by far the most dominant high school football team in this corner of southwest Michigan. The past eight years their record is 91-9. It’s our source of local pride.  You can tell the Eddies will have — literally — another banner year, as in a state football banner. The old guys at the Legion hall have that tell-tale smirk on their faces. They predict another undefeated regular season.

A football forecast 

Predictions. Football. Christmas decorations at Costco in August. As my thoughts drifted as I drove home, the image of Billy Moor crossed my mind not too dissimilar to that ominous black cat ambling across Indian Lake Road. 

It’s way too early for our annual Snow Bet, I thought while shaking off upsetting memories. He who knows next to nothing about adiabatic cooling or orographic lift (the two are related) versus me, the self-styled prophet of everything weather and who always loses. Should we resume our long-running bet of who can come closest at predicting the annual snowfall, Moor will most certainly win and Annie and I will have to treat him and Margaret to dinner at his restaurant choice.

The South Bend Tribune (or what’s left of it) hardly publish upcoming weather events any more. So I hang my shingle on my Facebook page for the remaining friends who haven’t blocked me. 

Even in my dotage, I’m much better at predicting medium-range weather these days than my Tribune days. That said for effect, I’m still transparent with my sources just as I did back in the old days. It was long ago — around 1980 —when I started this weather thing of mine. Now the accuracy of weather forecasts has improved. Greatly.

You all know about Doppler radar and GOES weather satellites, but I’m talking  atmospheric sciences, namely physics — the bane of every high schooler.

All the weather maps I put on my Facebook page come from either the American model, the GFS, or the European model that I happen to revere. They don’t come from me, just so you know. 

First, I don’t try to upstage the local TV weathermen. They are the ones who have the bachelor or science degree in meteorology. 

But I can go out longer than “Mike’s Ten-Day Forecast” as a way to carve out my own niche. So I go out 11 days. That’s dicey. But what do I have to lose? My shingle?

Anyway, the forecast for the Notre Dame-Ohio State game at The Horseshoe on Sept. 3 calls for a high of 80 degrees. And rain, lots of it. Both the GFS and the Euro seem in synch. That emboldens me. 

The GOES weather satellites, their cameras and instruments peering down, will eventually pick up the developing storm system as it hits the California coastline. The upper air will be sampled by weather balloons and hundreds of passenger jets.  The data will be fed to giant supercomputers programmed with the laws of physics. The aggregated data will produce the maps that will be picked up by the local TV guys. 

Then we wait.

The station meteorologists will be cautious about announcing too soon the game day forecast. They must. They can never lose public trust, especially when severe weather rolls towards us. I don’t have that responsibility. And neither did D. D. Donovan, WSJV’s weather pooch — an outrageous dog puppet who buffoonerized the station’s weather segment back in the 1960s for ratings. (Bet you think I’m kidding).

 So I have a nice advantage, a perch so to speak, to see way into the future. 

 If you are going to Columbus for the big Notre Dame game, take your umbrella.

 Like me, what do you have to lose?

 That’s the news from Lake Christiann.