June 29, 1998 transcript # 240-1 
Subject(s): forecasting 

Twenty years or so ago, residents around Mount Nebo, near Roseburg, Oregon, were able to tune into Goat Weather Forecasts from local station KRSB. Hi, I’m Dave Thurlow and this is the Weather Notebook.

According to local folklore, if the wild goats on the mountain were grazing high up, it meant fine weather.  But if they moved down to forage for food, rain could be expected. Needless to say, these goat forecasts became wildly popular, and the station developed its own meteorological shorthand. “Scattered goats” meant sunny conditions were expected. If “Low goat pressure” was mentioned, stormy weather was due. And so these animals provided forecasts at least as accurate as those issued officially, or so the locals maintain.

But then one day a prankster decided to have some fun. Under cover of darkness, he set out cardboard cut-outs which were convincing enough to deceive the broadcaster’s glance up the mountain before making the first forecast of the day.  But when the time rolled round for the second, it was suddenly realised that the goats had not moved an inch, and so the joke was discovered. And the culprit?  He was traced through the cardboard used, arrested and fined for littering. As to the goats. Eventually, they became dangers to themselves and others, what with straying onto roads and crashing through picture windows.  So they were rounded up and taken to live on a farm about fifteen miles from the scene of their meteorological triumphs. 

Thanks to writer Mary Reed for today’s show. The Weather Notebook is funded by Subaru and the National Science Foundation.