Monday, January 15, 2001
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Posted on: Monday, January 15, 2001

Island Voices
Weather forecasting is for the birds

By Ted Gibson
Kailua resident

The Weather Service does its forecasting with an extensive staff at many locations. The El Nino phenomenon mentioned in the Jan. 6 Advertiser story "Dry weather in the Islands expected in the spring" is but one of the staff’s outputs.

I get along quite well, thank you, with a similar but unpaid staff of many. My program is called La Birdeau (pronounced "La Bird-o."). I can predict the weather depending on how my staff of more than 60 reports for work each morning.

When they flock into the chow line (feeding station) from the west (i.e., flying into the trade winds), we are going to have fair weather.

When, on the other hand (or is it "wing"?), they report in from the east (flying kona), then threatening weather is to be expected.

All this work is at no charge, other than an occasional investment in 25-pound bags of bird seed and 5-pound bags of sunflower seeds, procured by the way from Waimanalo University, otherwise known as Waimanalo Feed Supply.

When the majority of the unpaid help appears late for duty, strong winds can be predicted. When they report for work walking, rather than flying, their feathers are weighted down with moisture and therefore precipitation is imminent — if not already occurring.

Now, those are short-range forecasts. Long-range forecasts are quite reliable, also.

Once a week I visually check as the staff flies — reports — into the three-house chow hall suspended from wires outside the family room. A baby has trouble balancing on the wires and tends to stay back from the feeding frenzy.

I count the babies. When the count declines, obviously the mama- and papa-sans are expecting inclement weather in the weeks and months to come.

And all this, at no charge. Stand by for further predictions.

By the way, you may be interested in knowing that 50 years ago, when color TV was still in the labs, I was trying to promote color radio. I didn’t have any success because the only word sequence I could come up with was "the weatherman red the forecast and blue it!" (Local weather gals, please note.)

Aloha for now, rain or shine, fair or fowl.

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