Cook column: Shoptalk on weather and comments
Our friends at AccuWeather have chosen another source for information in the Post’s daily weather package.
Several readers complained this summer about the disconnect between figures the Post published and what they’d seen with their own eyes. The Post would say “trace of rain” for a day when they had witnessed a steady downpour. Something obviously was amiss.
Some discrepancy is to be expected. One area of the county can get soaked at the same time that another remains dry. For our weather package, Accu-Weather reports only one set of readings, and those figures were coming from a Web site in Salisbury.
The apparatus from which those readings came apparently has deteriorated; several times this year the information was way off.
I have discussed this more than once with AccuWeather, with whom we have a contract. When the downpour that flooded Innes Street in August showed up as less than 2 inches of rain, people at AccuWeather agreed that something had to change.
The Post pays Accuweather for the complete weather package that appears in the paper ó maps, forecasts, lake levels, almanac and all. We don’t record any weather measurements ourselves at the Post. We depend on Accuweather to find reliable sources.
Years ago the Post bought weather-monitoring equipment and installed it on the roof of our building. A staff member took readings from a console in the newsroom each morning to report in that day’s paper, back when the Post was an afternoon paper. That’s about as up-to-date as a printed publication can be.
After many years, that machine’s readings became suspect, too. Rather than get a new weather station and continue maintaining it ó weather and pigeons take a toll on delicate equipment ó we signed on with AccuWeather.
In bigger cities, services like Accuweather can depend on airports or the National Weather Service for reliable reports. Here in Rowan, consistently accurate sources have been hard to find. At our request, AccuWeather has changed sources two or three times after we had a run of inaccurate reports. I won’t point fingers; we know how difficult maintaining such equipment can be.
Anyway, now the daily readings in the Post’s Accuweather report come from a station nine miles west-northwest of the city in the National Weather Service’s cooperative observer network. That is the Piedmont Research Station, which has proven to be a very reliable source of information for the Post through the years. AccuWeather has also updated the year-to-date figures with data from the research station.
The readings are taken at 8 a.m. each morning, so the readings in today’s paper reflect the 24-hour period that ended at 8 a.m. yesterday. That is not as fresh as we would like; we will continue seeking more timely measurements. But this information should be accurate. Just keep in mind that it comes from the western side of the county.
Meanwhile, if you want more recent readings from different areas of Rowan, check weather on SalisburyPost.com. That report comes from The Weather Underground, another service, and it lists readings from several volunteer weather watchers around the county, hour by hour.
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Another recent change concerns SalisburyPost.com, our Web site. Users now register to post comments.
It’s easy. The first time you go to post a comment, you’re offered free registration. Click on that button, and you wind up on a page that asks for a username (with no spaces within it) and your e-mail address.
You will be assigned a password, which you can change if you like. Just follow the directions on the screen.
Then, when you post a comment, you’ll be asked for a title to the comment, the comment itself and your name.
Your e-mail address will not appear on the comment and is not available to the public. But requiring commenters to share that information with the Post does bring in a degree of accountability.
Which reminds me, here’s what our site has to say about comments:
“SalisburyPost.com is pleased to offer readers the ability to comment on stories. We expect our readers to engage in lively, yet civil discourse.
“SalisburyPost.com does not edit user submitted statements and we cannot promise that readers will not occasionally find offensive or inaccurate comments posted in the comments area. Responsibility for the statements posted lies with the person submitting the comment, not SalisburyPost.com. If you find a comment that is objectionable, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the article title and offensive post’s contents and we will review it for possible removal.
We hope the comment feature at SalisburyPost.com will provide a forum for healthy community debate.
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Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.