From alternative music and media to alternative medicine, we're increasingly offered nontraditional replacements to mainstream methods, institutions and practices. Although conventional approaches serve a purpose, growing awareness of their limitations and flaws impel men to explore along the fringe for new, and in some cases, ancient solutions.
So why not alternative weather forecasts? Present day orthodox forecast techniques lack the ability to accurately predict the weather beyond three or four days. Even with the assistance of the largest weather computer in the world, whose lightning-fast calculations approach about 400 million per second, the results of its three-day forecasts are speculative; its six to seven day forecasts are worthless. According to conventional weather forecasters, this is due to the complexity of atmospheric forces and processes.
For example, on September 19, 2002 Tropical Storm Isidore roamed off the southwestern coast of Cuba. Forecasters were pretty confident its trajectory would take it over the island and then out into the waters of the south-central Gulf of Mexico. After that, it was anybody’s guess. One forecaster commented after noticing that computer models showed so much disagreement that it was time to dust off the chaos butterflies of MIT Professor Ed Lorenz. He was referring to the discovery Lorenz made while working with computer-simulated weather. Lorenz found that even a very slight alteration of the original variables used in his computations produced drastically different “weather” results. This small change in input resulting in a huge change in output was termed the “butterfly effect” since something as small as the wind produced by a butterfly’s flapping wings could theoretically contribute to the production of a hurricane somewhere in the world.
What some scientists see as complexity, however, might actually be viewed as simplicity when the frame of reference is changed. Johannes Kepler, the 17th century astronomer and discoverer of the planetary laws of motion, experimented with what today would be considered an alternative forecast method that made long-range weather forecasts possible. Kepler observed that the angular relationships among the planets coincided with the formation of weather systems here on Earth that, in turn, produced storms, droughts, floods, etc. His first brush with fame came not because of his breakthrough regarding the planetary laws of motion but because of his accurate long-range weather forecast of the severe winter that put Styermark, Germany on ice in 1593. Since the planets move in repetitive cycles that can be known beforehand, he reasoned, the weather induced by them can also be known beforehand.
We can all see the advantages that such predictions could have. Accurate long-range weather forecasts would bring enormous benefits to the weather derivatives market, agriculture, transportation, construction, and other industries, not to mention the lives that could be saved through advance knowledge of severe weather conditions.
The Weather Alternative's forecast system is based on Kepler's work. Although no forecast method, be it conventional or alternative, can claim 100 percent accuracy, it is interesting to note the dependability this method offers.