By Songyi Zhang
Whether in China or America, people care about the weather, and they talk about it endlessly . But what amazes me is how sophisticated the weather forecast is on the American TV news. With high technology, the background behind the meteorologist is far from a still picture. Just with a tip of a finger, the colorful weather map expands and flips, clouds and winds all moving like animation.
As in China, the American weather map is about as clear as mud —the isobars for air pressure, the letter and number indicators, the blue and red signs for the type and movement of air fronts… The only weather symbol I get is the bright red sun indicating a sunny day.
But American meteorologists talk a lot and in great detail, but some of the talk is not helpful.
Today’s weather report is more than only about hot or cold, wet or dry. There’s so much jargon in an American meteorologist’s prepared speech. One thing that I’m not comfortable with is the meteorologists usually speak fairly fast, like a gust of wind. How can they expect all the audience to understand what they say?
Seriously, for some people who have little knowledge about meteorology, they probably only understand if tomorrow is a sunny hot day or a rainy cool one. How can they comprehend the effect of the cold front from the north coming southwards at some wind speed, or that a sea level pressure will rise because of a strong turbulence of air at the coast?
However, the most difficult part of understanding a weather forecast for an immigrant is converting the temperature from Fahrenheit to Celsius. I have only a vague concept about the Fahrenheit scale. Listening to the meteorologist, I try to remember why 97 degrees Fahrenheit is “boiling hot” (but it’s not!) as 97 degrees Celsius is close to the boiling point of water at 100 degrees Celsius.
More than half the world’s population uses the metric system. The United States is one of the few countries that still use the old British system. That certainly inconveniences foreign visitors and residents. If America is for globalization, unifying its measurements to the metric system should be on the top of the list.