Windowless? Let Web sites control the weather

It's a good thing there are Internet weather sites. Yes, it's beneficial for travelers to know if it's going to be nice at their destination. It's great to know if a large snowfall is coming, so everyone but bartenders can be off work. You can even check out the weather where all your friends live.

But Internet weather means a little more to me. It's my only connection to Mother Nature. I have no windows in my office, which means a tornado could pass, and I would think the printing press motor was just going bad. Not that I really care much anyway what is happening outside while I'm at work. But it would be nice to know if it were getting dark because of a solar eclipse or just because it's getting late. My computer does come equipped with a clock, but unfortunately, I have the sunset/sunrise module turned off.

I took a look at the top five Google sites when searching for weather as the keyword. The first, amazingly enough, was The Weather Channel . Like the station itself, it was comprehensive, with maps, 10-day forecasts, severe weather alerts, monthly and daily averages and records and ways to send weather via e-mail, pager, phone and/or PDA. There was even a place to stick your hand on your monitor and feel what it was like in various cities. Even if that were true, that still wouldn't be better than a window here.

The Weather Channel has its limits, mainly because the secondary navigation doesn't seem to function. I had planned to find out how certain natural phenomena happened, but luckily I found USA Today's Weather Basics. There were different tidbits with animated graphics with various weather events. For instance, air pressure topics included why baseballs fly farther in higher elevations and how ridges and troughs affect weather; flood topics showed how warm, moist air can trigger a flood and how narrow canyons can create one.

I found answers to other questions on Intellicast, but unfortunately I couldn't find the answer I wanted: "Why is the only sun in my office my desktop background?" With this information, you could intelligently glare at the maps and not just think the markings were something John Madden did in a mosh pit. Another bonus on Intellicast's Web site was a listing of baseball stadium forecasts. Not that it would do me much good because if I waited to check the forecast, I'd probably miss the game.

And don't forget, you can always get your local weather via our AccuNet Weather page. There's a link to Live Doppler plus a five-day forecast, when you're in a hurry.

But why wait for an Internet site to tell you the weather when you can tell OTHERS about the weather you are experiencing? At Weather Underground, you can download a program (depending on your computer's platform) that will enable you to send your latest readings to others. You must also buy a bumper sticker that reads "Be Your Own Meteorologist." My brother, who will graduate this year from Cornell with a degree in atmospheric sciences, worked two years ago at the MOST EXCITING PLACE ON EARTH: the National Weather Service in Louisville. Actually, the only excitement came from a particular wannabe meteorologist, who would call each day (seriously) asking for the highest temperature recorded in 1946, the average barometric pressure or some random weather question. Just think what he could do with his own weather program! At least he could get his head out of the clouds. Ha!

The National Weather Service has its own Web site. It needs a little work, though. While there is a lot of info, it's not presented in a readable fashion. You can check out all the latest weather bulletins, and as of last count, there were 546,104,560,318 of them, including a supposed slight rainfall in Arlee, Montana, that turned out to be people spitting.

Sitting in front of my computer all day, I really can't concern myself with Mother Nature, unless we have a power failure in the middle of a flood, in which case my computer doubles as a flotation device. Have you ever heard of the Internet Weather Report? Neither had I, until a friend sent a link to show me what the weather was like on the Web. The site shows different world maps that reveal different levels of Internet activity in major cities. You can determine what cities are experiencing the most traffic and the fastest connection responses.

I'm assuming it's still somewhat sunny outside, although I won't know until I leave my office. Next on my list of things to create is my own weather machine. Who needs windows when you can create a tsunami in your own workspace?