Map Analysis Like Musician’s Scales

 

In anything worth doing there are fundamental, repetitious tasks which must be mastered in order to achieve excellence.  A musician must practice scales.  An artist must draw perspectives.  For meteorologists, that fundamental task is map analysis.  In my early 20s as a student and later as a young professional, it was my twice daily task to copy the coded weather station observations onto a map and then draw the isobars, isotherms, isopleths, and other lines of constant whatnot.  My first effort took about three hours.  But after a year or two, I could plot and analyze a weather map of the Great Plains and Upper Midwest in half an hour easily.  It became a pleasure to draw those lines.  I would never be confused for being an artist.  My handwriting is barely legible.  But my maps were, to me anyway, a thing of beauty.  A ripple in adjacent lines could be a place where a thunderstorm would develop.  A weakening high pressure might signal a place to watch for fog.  Computers do most of the analysis in today’s world, but hand-analysis is still the best way to learn how weather works.  Meteorologist John Wheeler

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