My demo site, Weather Now, has a feature showing weather extremes for the world. Northwest Canada right now is having unusually cold weather. What's the connection? The Calgary Herald published a story about the website yesterday and syndicated it across Canada. Jenna McMurray of the Calgary Sun also picked up the story, and called me for a quick interview.
As a result, Weather Now went from a daily average 4,000 page views up to a server-smashing 337,000 yesterday. It seems traffic has tapered off a bit today, but I'm still getting enormously more hits than usual.
I'm also getting a lot more feedback, like this note from Judy C., who had a Canadian IP address:
Get your facts straight. You and others in your country love to make statements based on minimum research and not double checking what you "think" is correct! Calgary: 2nd coldest place on earth is just as
stupid a comment as other comments on your home page: the world (just the US)! Good grief, no wonder the rest of world laughs at you behind your back.
It took me a few seconds to work out the "just the US" part, but apparently she referred to the link of "coldest places" that filters for just U.S.-based weather reports.
Otherwise, here follows my reply:
Thanks for writing.
The site is a programming demo, not a commercial website. As such we only get free information from U.S. government computers. We have no control over the quality or quantity of information that foreign governments make available to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nor do we have any control over what NOAA makes available to us.
The difficulty our site faces is that Environment Canada and similar agencies in other Commonweath nations retain Crown copyright over most of the data that we would want on our site. EC only makes data available for about 100 stations in Canada. So even though it got down to -35C in parts of Alberta Monday night, the only stations we had available in the affected region were two near Calgary, which only got to -30C. As it turns out, northern Alberta briefly got colder (-39C) than Antarctica (-38C), and was, as far as anyone knows, the coldest place on earth.
The site automatically produces the lists of hottest and coldest places every 20 mintues without human intervention. All these facts conspire to produce some odd results from time to time, particularly during severe weather events such as the one Canada is experiencing in Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Northwest Territories right now.
As for the rest, I assure you the world laughs at us to our faces, not behind out backs. We have a reputation for being rude, thoughtless, and belligerent that other people--for example, Canadians--do not. It occasionally makes polite discourse difficult, as people sometimes assume the worst motivations on the basis of the most banal facts.
Thank you again for your note.
She thanked me for my considered reply. Aww.