Dispatches, August 1997
Planning an expedition to the North Pole? A sea-kayaking trip in Glacier Bay? Mary Ann Slaby can help — for a price. Slaby, who predicts natural phenomena on the World Wide Web (see http://members.aol.com/Eqks/Weather. html) and claims to have foretold the conditions that caused the freak tornado that hit Miami last May, charges $1,000 for specific meteorological "workups," which come with a money-back guarantee. So far no takers, but that hasn't shaken her confidence. The next step, she says, is to market her proprietary technique — the details of which, for obvious reasons, she keeps as closely guarded as the secret formula for Coke. Her asking price? A mere $37 million. Intrigued, we caught up with Slaby to find out more.
For a well-funded expedition, $1,000 for a reliable forecast might be reasonable. But $37 million? Who would buy your technique?
Oh, the World Bank, or maybe an insurance company. There's a lot of money to be made in long-range weather prediction.
Your method must be pretty accurate.
Well, the National Weather Service is 80 to 90 percent accurate seven days in advance. My technique gives you the same accuracy four to five weeks in advance.
Do you have any predictions for August?
A volcano will erupt in the Caribbean or Mexico before September. And there will be a level five hurricane on the East Coast that will rival Andrew. But I'm still working on it.
So tell us: What's the worst thing about being a meteorologist?
You wouldn't believe how strange some of the people are.