SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
As a public service, I’d like to talk about an unusual weather condition that sometimes happens here in northern Indiana. It’s unpredictable and frightening, yet, because it’s so rare, it gets much less press than heat waves and blizzards.
This condition is called Mild Weather.
The National Weather Service defines MW as any condition in which no precipitation is falling, and yet small animals are not being reported either frozen to fire hydrants or stuck in melted asphalt. There have been cases in which the weather changes so rapidly that animals have become stuck in asphalt while frozen to fire hydrants; such rapid changeovers don’t count as Mild Weather events, because there’s not enough time in between for people to turn off their air conditioners and go outside without overcoats on.
There have been incidences during changeover events in which Hoosiers suffered heat stroke while shoveling snow. During a MW alert, the danger is usually more psychological.
Rare it may be, but Indiana has still had no less than seven Mild Weather days so far in 2010, an average of almost one per month. Forecasters are concerned that climate change may cause more and more MWD’s, possibly leading in the future to entire Mild Weather Weeks, which some pundits caution could be the Perfect Calm.
Such a possibility, experts warn, could lead to a massive savings in electric bills, TV weather forecasters with nothing to talk about, and even a jump in unemployment rates among storm chasers. As a result, the Obama administration recently announced a stimulus package with three parts: $14 billion worth of research into rain dancing; a retraining program that would teach storm chasers to become Hollywood paparazzi; and a federal takeover of The Weather Channel until such time as cable ratings can be increased, or bad weather can be manufactured to make the weather interesting again. The program is to be paid for with a cut in food stamps and the sale of weather satellites to, ironically, the Food Channel.
Mild Weather is hard to predict, although experts believe there is a correlation between them and the amount of overtime the average worker puts in. For instance, MW almost never strikes on a Saturday, except during six day work weeks. This has led to, according to the Department of Labor, an almost epidemic rash of people calling in sick during MW periods.
There are two primary Mild Weather danger seasons: One begins in April and lasts until June, while the second typically runs from late August until early October. In Indiana, there has never been a recorded MW day during January or February.
Some people claim that there are numerous MW days during July and early August, but a federally funded research project by MIT revealed that all of those people owned swimming pools, which tends to skew the results. Conversely, researchers learned that every single person who claimed to encounter a MW incident during January had previously been judged mentally disturbed.
What do you do when Mild Weather strikes?
First, do not panic! One thing that can be counted on is that MW will pass quickly. If MW strikes between late fall and early spring, open all the windows and run outside quickly, before it passes. Then just stand there. Soak it in, it won’t harm you. You’ll get a strange feeling that may frighten and confuse you, especially during the winter months. This is called joy. Don’t fight it; it will pass soon enough.
If this occurs in early spring, you might discover that your long underwear is leaving you with an uncomfortable feeling. This is warmth. Take it off (before going outside) and put on a t-shirt. You’ll find those in a box in the closet, or maybe a bottom drawer in the dresser. Don’t panic; it’s okay for your arms to be bare.
Be warned that unusual temperature spikes in January and February are sometimes mistaken for MW incidents. Remember, if it’s minus ten degrees and the temperature climbs twenty degrees, it’s still ten degrees; leave the bikini you bought on clearance in the closet. If the temptation becomes overwhelming, disrobe (inside the house) and look in a full length mirror. See that pasty white, doughy person? That’s you.
If MW arrives during summer, the same basic rule applies: Open all windows, then go outside. You don’t have to take your water bottle with you.
If you stay inside, turn off the air conditioner. It’s the little button on the front that says “off”. Yes, you can. Remember, if you don’t turn off your air conditioner when MW strikes, you may freeze to death in the middle of summer, and you don’t want to be remembered for that.
The NWS has established the following guidelines to determine the severity of Mild Weather events:
Mild Alert Weather 1 (Cool): Don’t change the way you dress, but you might still be comfortable outside.
MAW 2 (Great): Dress up or dress down; use common sense.
MAW 3 (Fantastic): Play in the sun, but don’t stray too far from shelter.
MAW 4 (Awesome): Don’t worry about shelter; you can die here happy.
MAW 5 (There Are No Words): Speaking of dying, check your pulse – you may be in Heaven.
Mild Weather incidents are hard to predict, but by following these simple precautions and being prepared you can get through it … and maybe even enjoy yourselves.