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Lila Littlejohn: Changes in weather we hope you’ll like

From the Editor's Desk

Posted: October 7, 2010 8:16 p.m.
Updated: October 8, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 

Back when we introduced our new design on March 5, I promised you’d see some more changes. Today brings another — another change in the weather.

A number of you have called us to complain about the weather forecast that we have used since the new design was adopted. During my three years and three months at the helm of The Signal’s editorial department, I have found weather to be a surprising challenge.

It draws more complaints than anything else in the newspaper — except maybe changes on the comics pages.

It’s traditional for newspapers to pay an outside source to provide a colorful graphic every day, with lots of maps, arrows to show air flow, little cloud graphics with little rain drops to show storms and little suns to indicate sunny weather.

These graphics are packed with information, though most of it isn’t local. Newspapers can buy an entire page from these services. Doing so is very expensive.

For the price, one would expect the information to be accurate enough for our weather-savvy readers.

We’ve been through three of those weather-graphic services in the past three years.

Unfortunately, since our weather is so mild, it takes either extreme temperatures or quantities of rain to determine the accuracy of the information provided.

And when we get either, we hear from you.

I appreciate all the people who have e-mailed or called to provide feedback on the weather issues we’ve grappled with. I appreciate those folks with rain gauges who e-mail us with rainfall information when we get storms.

Like other Santa Clarita Valley weather watchers, I recognize that this valley is actually a collection of microclimates. We can get two inches of rain on the Grapevine incline above Castaic, while on the same day we get nothing but a trace in Newhall.

We can have lows below freezing in Canyon Country while the nighttime temperature barely dips below 40 degrees in Valencia.

Assigning numbers — whether temperatures or rainfall totals — to Santa Clarita Valley weather can get tricky.

Over the years, I’ve concluded that the National Weather Service has more accurate, specific information about our valley than any other weather provider I’ve found.

So today we launch a new A2 weather feature that we’re creating ourselves using National Weather Service information.

The new weather graphic is built by Signal Copy Editor Joel Rosario with numbers and graphics from the National Weather Service.

Creating it required some fancy programming that I don’t pretend to understand, and it provided challenges. What works on a computer screen won’t necessarily work on a newspaper page.

But it is with a greater confidence in accuracy that we offer this new feature to our readers. We welcome input and suggestions from readers, who can send their comments to lilalittlejohn@the-signal.com and jrosario@the-signal.com with “weather” in the subject field.

We hope you find the latest change in the weather pleasing.

Lila Littlejohn is the Executive Editor of The Signal.

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