1324: Weather

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
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At least if you're really into, like, Turkish archaeology, store clerks aren't like 'hey, how 'bout those Derinkuyu underground cities!' when they're trying to be polite.
Title text: At least if you're really into, like, Turkish archaeology, store clerks aren't like 'hey, how 'bout those Derinkuyu underground cities!' when they're trying to be polite.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: For the Turkish archaeology geeks out there: flesh that part out!
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Social norm accepts casual small-talk as an ice breaker for interaction -- usually it is always safe to talk about the weather without hitting any disagreement as there are rarely any personal view point about the weather -- in contrast small talk is never about political subjects or similar where chances are that there are strong personal view points.

In this strip Cueball is an expert in weather systems, and when Hairy makes a comment about the weather he has problem deciphering if Hairy is asking for his expert opinion or is simply trying to make small-talk -- only weather experts would have this problem, as almost no other topic is suitable for opening a conversation in casual small-talk. Cueball switches to small-talk once he understand that Hairy is confused and didn't expect to get detailed expert tech-talk.

As to the jargon;

  • Jet streams are strong air currents high in the atmosphere which have a big influence on the weather.
  • 18z is 18:00 UTC (6 PM in Greenwich, England, 10 AM in California). See ISO 8601 at Wikipedia. The letter "Z" is used as 'Zulu' in the NATO phonetic alphabet, meaning just UTC.
  • GFS is the Global Forecast System (also known as NCEP-GFS). It is a computer model used by the National Weather Service to predict the weather up to 16 days in advance. The model is run 4 times a day and the output is distinguished by the UTC hour it was started (18z in this case).
  • Part of the prediction is the atmospheric pressure expressed in mbar (or mb). 960 mbar is very low pressure, which is usually associated with seriously bad weather (record low pressure for Minnesota was 963 mbar till 1998).

Store clerks are known for small talk about the weather as part of their sales talk. In title text, a clerk instead makes small talk about Derinkuyu Underground Cities, one of the most well-known archaeological sites in Turkey, which is a country very well known for its many well-preserved ancient sites from a broad range of time periods. It would be very tempting for Turkish archaeology geek to launch into a detailed conversation on the subject or related news.


[Cueball and Hairy are talking.]
Hairy: So, how 'bout this weather?
Cueball: I know, right? The whole jet stream layer is nuts!
Hairy: Um, sure...
Cueball: The 18z GFS forecasts 960mb by Tuesday. Think it'll verify?
Hairy: What?
Cueball: ...Right. Sorry. Uh, yeah! Weather sure has been crazy.
Weather geeks have it tough.
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So, how 'bout that local sports team eh? --Buggz (talk) 07:28, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Man, did you see the way they implemented a Tampa Two against the spread, allowing the Mike to rove and then disguised zone blitz schemes by dropping the end on the short side when the offense ran red right? 15:19, 4 October 2014 (UTC)
The same gag is made in the movie Groundhog Day:
Mrs. Lancaster: There's talk of a blizzard.
Phil Connors: We may catch a break and that blizzard's gonna blow right by us. All of this moisture coming up out of the south by midday is probably gonna push on to the east of us and at high altitudes it's gonna crystallize and probably give us what we call snow. Probably will be some accumulation but here in Punxsutawney our high is gonna get up to about 30 today, teens tonight. Chance of precipitation about 20% today, 20% tomorrow. Did you want to talk about the weather or were you just making chit chat?
Condor70 (talk) 09:58, 31 January 2014 (UTC)
But because February 2 is this Sunday, today is the appropriate day for this comic. 14:39, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Does Minnesota have anything to do with the actual comic? -- 21:36, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

Article: "In title text, a clerk instead makes small talk about Derinkuyu Underground Cities" Title Text: "store clerks aren't like 'hey, how 'bout those Derinkuyu underground cities!'" (emphasis mine) 23:08, 31 January 2014 (UTC)

This could still use an explanation for "Think it'll verify?" 08:11, 5 February 2014 (UTC)

Cueball's opening line isn't too bad. A lot of people are vaguely aware of the jet stream layer, because it affects flying. If they aren't, it's at least composed of common words that don't baffle them. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

This is me when I used to want to be a meteorologist when I was 12. I'd constantly baffle people talking about cumulonimbus clouds and how lightning worked and downdraft regions and stuff like that, and things like that. Nowadays I intentionally avoid small talk by obfuscating my response with esoteric jargon, so that people understand I'm a nerd, and that I don't do small talk. The universe is too big for small talk. International Space Station (talk) 08:54, 8 October 2015 (UTC)