Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Remember the Phone Number for Weather?

When we hopped out of bed in the morning and wanted to know what the weather was going to be in the Washington, D.C., area, we called 936-1212. When the electricity went off and we wanted to reset our clocks, we called 844-1212.

People in the metro area have been calling weather and time numbers for 72 years, but current callers are getting an additional message. Verizon, the local phone company, says it is dropping those services June 1.


It’s not hard to figure out.

When I boot up my computer in the morning, a “weather.com” desktop page tells me what the weather for our zip code will be, and I can click on tabs that give me forecasts for up to 10 days, which is much more information than the telephone message contains. Also, the time appears at the bottom right corner of my computer screen.

Perhaps you get similar services on your cell phone, you iPad, or your iWhatchamacallit. One local radio station, WTOP News, reports weather every 10 minutes, “On the Eights.” Our cable system includes the “Weather Channel,” which gives 24/7 updates, with the time also displayed on the screen.

When was the last time I called the time number? I can’t remember.

When was the last time I called the weather number? I can’t remember.

Not everyone, of course, is happy with these untimely storm clouds that will change their daily routines. Ellen calls Weather every morning, though beginning June 1 I imagine she’ll be calling elsewhere: “Bob, what’s the forecast for today?”

The telephone weather service began in 1939, when C&P Telephone operators began reading short, government forecasts. Of course you’re probably thinking, “Most of those operators long ago were replaced by new ways of communicating.”

Well, yes they were. And now time and weather numbers will join them, unless another sponsor agrees to pick up the bill.

For the sake of the good old days, for history, shouldn’t you call the weather number one last time before June 1?


1 comment:

  1. Fortunately not everyone is as tied to their computer as you seem to be. I like to be able to just dial a number and get the current weather now. I don't want to have to be around a computer to get this simple information. Verizon is not into phone or internet service. They are into making money. It's that simple and having a freebie like using the phone to get current information is not a money maker.