Know why there’s no sun up in the sky
The Weather Channel 24 hours, Foxtel and Austar
WHO would have thought a detail such as the weather could justify an entire 24/ 7 channel of its very own? Well, meteorologists, for a kick- off. And the meteorologists of the local Bureau of Meteorology, known affectionately as the BOM, pride themselves these days on forecasts that are accurate about 85 per cent of the time.
So 15 per cent of the time they’re wrong or revising a previous forecast.
And this is why, last Saturday, your correspondent decided Sydney’s winter, which had been dragging its cold heels, was finally over. The BOM’s prediction, printed on Friday in this paper for Saturday, suggested a sunny day with temps between 11C and 20C.
During the 45- minute drive from my home to the Royal National Park, with its splendidly isolated, generally pristine beaches, the temperature dropped about 10C and clouds gathered ominously. With them, my idea of an early mark to spring died, too.
If only I had checked the Weather Channel before leaving home.
Of course I could have tuned in any reasonable radio station on the hour to check if the forecast had been revised. But the stark and perhaps widely unknown advantage of the Weather Channel is its Weather Active feature, which delivers up- tothe- minute forecasts as well as a barrage of information on the weather generally, for your postcode, on demand. And not just in metropolitan areas but across the country.
As with certain pay- television sports and music channels, where a press of the red button on the remote delivers extra games or extra music channels piggy- backed on to the same frequency, a push of the red button while tuned to the Weather Channel delivers the goods for your postcode, or, in some rural areas, the nearest existing weather station.
Travellers, especially those who fly interstate regularly, can use an additional service by pressing the blue button, then choosing the weather for a destination.
If you go often to the same places, you can even set up a favourites list with the weather at all your preferred destinations at your fingertips.
But there’s more to the weather channel than Weather Active. A host of toothy and cheerful presenters such as Gavin Morris, is always on hand to deliver regular programming and breaking weather updates, for example on the havoc wreaked recently by Hurricane Gustav in the US.
Content includes regular spots such as snowcasts, beach and surf reports, weather whys ( explaining all that stuff about cold fronts and high pressure systems other services just assume you know all about) and country skies ( weather forecasts for Australia’s key agricultural regions).
My advice? Don’t without it.
Frontal attack: The Weather Channel’s Gavin Morris