Boise, ID

The “Weathermen” (Women) in Boise are Overpaid for Their Guesses”

Stuart Gustafson
(photo from Amir Esrafili on

There is a standing saying about the weather that I didn’t learn until several years after I moved to Boise, Idaho, in 1993. That saying -- get ready -- is that if you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes because it’s bound to change.

Now that isn’t entirely true. In the winter, which I say starts November 1 and lasts until the temperature is consistently above 90, changing weather does not mean warm temperatures. It might mean going from snow to clouds or from cold to colder. Same thing for the summer. A day over 100 won’t suddenly switch to 60 or below the next day.

Weather is Variable in Boise; that’s for Sure

Most people don’t think of Boise as being a high desert area. We’re around 2,500 feet above sea level, but it is a very dry climate. One website ( says that Boise gets about 13 inches of rain per year, while the U.S. average is almost triple that at 38 inches. Our days of some form of precipitation average 87 days per year, compared to the national average of 106 days. The snowfall average of 17 inches per year is a bit misleading because the city doesn’t rely on in-town snow for our watershed. It is the snow in the mountains that feeds our rivers, streams, and water aquifers, and we typically do quite well with them.

Oh, by the way, Boise is on par with the U.S. average for sunny days in a year at 205. You’ve got to love the sunshine!
(photo by Eugene Triguba on

One problem with the sparsity of rain is the dryness of the grasslands and the forests. Forest fires are quite common in the Boise area; not in town, per se, but in the neighboring forests, many of which are visible to the city’s residents. I don’t know the full history of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) that is headquartered in Boise.

NIFC has no single director or manager
(image from the NIFC website)

According to the NIFC website (, “The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho, is the nation's support center for wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC. Decisions are made using the interagency cooperation concept because NIFC has no single director or manager.” So, what does the agency do?

> Support emergency responses, icnluding

>>> floods

>>> hurricanes

>>> earthquakes

>>> volcanic eruptions

>>> riots

>>> terrorist attacks (9/11 and Oklahoma City bombing)

That’s a lot of activities to cover, but their primary focus is on wildland firefighting. The agencies that are represented share firefighting supplies, equipment, and personnel, which helps ensure efficient and cost-effective incident management.

They work together to establish policy, exchange information, and train personnel. When the national fire situation escalates, National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group is activated to set priorities for critical, and sometimes scarce, equipment, supplies, and personnel.

All of this, and they are nationally headquartered in Boise, Idaho!

What’s Our Latest Weather Forecast?
(image from

I lived for over twenty five years in the San Diego area. One of the greatest baseball players from the area, and one of THE BEST hitters of all time in Major League Baseball was Tony Gwynn. By the way, he was a graduate from San Diego Sate University where I also graduated.

Tony Gwynn’s lifetime batting average was 0.338 (that means 33.8% of the times he was officially at bat he got a hit). He led the National League in batting average EIGHT years, and his season’s average was over 0.300 EVERY year from 1983 through his final year of 2001, with a lifetime high of .394 in 1994.

What does this have to do with the weather? Hang on.

Players like Tony Gwynn are rare. Most baseball players with a lifetime batting average over 0.300 make it to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Oh, yes, Tony was inducted in 2007 on his first ballot.

Weather forecasters, predictors -- whatever you want to call them -- are rarely right 30% (an average of 0.300) of the time, and yet they manage to keep their jobs forever. If they only played baseball, they’d be in the Hall of Fame.

How do I check the weather? Do I tune into the local station and see what the “weatherman” (or woman) says?

If the driveway is wet, it’s raining

Nope; I look outside. If the driveway is wet, it’s been raining.

If the tree branches are moving back and forth, the wind is blowing.

If the branches are whipping around violently, the wind is really blowing.

If the tree is casting a strong shadow, the sun isn’t being blocked by clouds.

If the sun is out, and the driveway feels quite warm to the touch, it’s a hot day.

You don’t need to watch the TV to know what the weather is -- just look and go outside. You’ll know right away, and the odds are you’ll be more right than those on the TV.

If all else fails, check the website.

p.s. Rain is on the way for the next couple of days.

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Articles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about travel, relevant local/regional items, some finance. Always with a slant to ask you to think.

Boise, ID

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