Saturday, December 24, 2005

Think global (warming), act local.

photo by Beige AlertThis AP article was ALL OVER the web today. Apparently some folks think Milwaukee's biggest image problem is the perception that it's cold.

Well, it IS cold. And whining about it and trying to manipulate temperature readings to conceal it is not going to improve the city's image.

A warmer Milwaukee? Just move the thermometer.

That's what a local group is considering as a way to make the city more appealing to tourists and people thinking of relocating here.

The official thermometer is now located at the local airport, which just happens to be about two miles west of Lake Michigan.

And everyone in the Milwaukee area has heard meteorologists say over and over, especially in spring and summer, temperatures would be "cooler near the lake."

So the private, nonprofit Spirit of Milwaukee wonders if moving the thermometer further inland - where temperatures at times can be 10 degrees warmer - would give Milwaukee a warmer image.

Rudy Schaar, data acquisition program manager for the National Weather Service in Sullivan, acknowledged that the temperature of a city depends in part on where it's taken.

"You can pretty much make the temperature say anything you want it to say depending on where you put the sensor," he said.

But he doesn't think trying to promote the city is a compelling reason to change the location. And the thermometers are at airports for aviation safety, he said.

But Schaar said the change for Milwaukee would have a fatal flaw - Lake Michigan keeps temperatures nearby cooler during the summer but also warmer into the winter, and the differences all average out.