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Saturday, May 21, 2011

JAPAN LITE

Sunny today with a chance of margaritas


When I first moved to the "Harenokuni Okayama (Sunny Okayama)" prefecture, I couldn't help but imagine how lazy the weather forecasters must be. I envisioned them laying in hammocks with margaritas in their hand while spewing out the weekly forecast — "Sunny every day!" — and assuring the public that their sports festivals, BBQs, picnics and trips to the beach could go ahead as scheduled.

Furthermore, no clouds would hide their sunsets in the Seto Inland Sea and there was nary a need for an umbrella. After which the forecasters would switch from margaritas to shots of tequila with lemon and salt. Then they'd pass out for the next 24 hours until it was time again to update the forecast — sunny again!

For me, Okayama was the first place I'd ever lived where the locals didn't think that their tiny slice of the planet had the strangest weather in the entire world. And consistent weather made for a more predictable daily life.

Ah, the good old days! These days, I think they need to change the prefecture slogan from "Sunny Okayama" to "Partly Cloudy Okayama with Occasional Thunderstorms and Typhoons. If you're lucky."

The change in the weather patterns has posed a problem for our weather forecasters, who have yet to adjust. They are truly in a funk. At least they have not turned to odd ways of forecasting like some other places have, such as comparing the humidity to the likelihood of your socks drying on the line that day. No, our forecasters have not gone that far. Instead, they've come up with their own way of not really committing to any particular forecast.

Here is an example of a recent extended forecast in our area:

Today: Partly cloudy and partly not. High of 32 but when you leave the house, take a jacket with you just in case. You can safely put your kotatsu table away and take that electric blanket off your bed.

Tomorrow: Sunny all day. Dream on. Extremely windy; your dog will be blown off its chain. Beware of raging pollen spores. Chance of garbage on the beaches.

Monday: Sunny all day until the clouds come. Daytime high of 33. Snow likely in evening. Get out that kotatsu again.

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Tuesday: In the morning, a chance of crows feasting on predawn garbage bags. Afternoon will be mostly cloudy, with periods of rain, sometimes light, sometimes heavy enough to clog the neighborhood drains and cause flooding in the streets. This will be followed by 100 percent precipitation. Periods of sunshine possible. We said possible. Acts of God likely.

Weather bulletin: We have just received a severe weather warning from the Thunder God. He implores us to beware of heavy rain, flooding, landslides, falling asteroids, stray lightning bolts, quicksand, sink holes, whirlpools, blow holes, crevasses, avalanches and sandstorms. Stay tuned for updates.

Wednesday: Showers in the morning, bathtubs in the afternoon. In late evening, Jacuzzis!

Weather Bulletin: This an updated severe weather warning. The Thunder God says you should also beware of "fire and brimstone."

Thursday: Partly sunny, but we're not going to tell you when. It will be warm enough that you will start actively seeking shade at crosswalks and other places where you might have to stand and wait longer than a few seconds.

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Friday: Sunny all day. But we might change that, since really, no one knows what the weather is going to be in seven days.

While the weather forecasters have a whole lot more to predict than just sunshine these days, I am still hoping the sun will come back to Okayama soon. At least we have a 50-50 chance that it will be sunny the week after next and twice that chance of having partly sunny days, with a few clouds on the side and an extra serving of Celsius on top.

If that happens, I forecast more margaritas during the week, with a 90 percent chance of lemon, salt and tequila shots on the weekends.



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