When the Weatherman cried "wolf!"

Weather forecasting is not a recent phenomenon, the art or science began with early civilisations using reoccurring astronomical and meteorological events to help them monitor seasonal changes in the weather.

Around 650 B.C., the Babylonians tried to predict short-term weather changes based on the appearance of clouds and optical phenomena such as haloes. By 300 B.C., Chinese astronomers had developed a calendar that divided the year into 24 festivals, each festival associated with a different type of weather.   Around 340 B.C., the Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote Meteorologica, a philosophical treatise that included theories about the formation of rain, clouds, hail, wind, thunder, lightning, and hurricanes.

Fast forward to centuries later the art is still practiced, through innovative methods; advanced technology has been incorporated to enhance accuracy. With that thought in mind, it should be rare for the weatherman to mislead people. So when he says please grab something warm to wear in the morning, because it is going to be cold we do so with blinded belief. All over the world people respect the Weatherman because he can even save lives by alerting people of some perils ahead like storms and floods.

In Botswana, weather patterns are almost predictable due to its typically hot and dry geographical nature. In winter it never snows and we seldom see floods scathing over houses like what happened in Mozambique in 2000. So it came as a surprise this past week when a warning was issued to Batswana citizens of floods that will be engulfing the nation from the 10th of November.

Naturally most people were excited and some even speculated that this signaled the end of the world or Christ’s second coming. “It is time to repent you foolish sinners or else you will not be saved after the floods drown the nation,” said Mooketsi John, a staunch Christian who appeared to be caught in between great jubilation and extreme fear of the unknown. Some senior school students who are currently writing their examinations screamed in excitement as they felt that perhaps the floods would mean that their exams will be postponed so they can have more time to catch up with the syllabus.

On Sunday afternoon, the day before the floods were to come, the appearance of the sky added more fuel to the speculation as one end was sunny and bright while the other part was cloudy and dark. Upon seeing the sky many started to panic with some kneeling down to beg their saviour for forgiveness while others claimed that they would stay up all night drinking and toasting to the end of the world.

On Monday morning the day the floods were expected to come, the sun started burning as it is customary in Botswana at 7am and not a single drop of rain on sight. Those who had bought rain coats and plastic boots in preparation for the impending doom and gloom started cursing at the weatherman. The weatherman in this case, being an elderly gentleman and veteran meteorologist, by the name of Radithupa Radithupa (his name and surname is a Setswana slang word for the man who always lies). Since the floods did not come as it was announced people are now accusing him of always fabricating the weather report, but who could blame them, look at his name!

Now it remains to be seen if the people will ever trust the weatherman’s report since he disappointed on his flood promise, maybe next time in the not so near future, when he announces that we should expect snow we would have forgotten this embarrassing incident, so we do not freeze to death by ignoring his warning.