My first automobile was a 1940 black, four-door Chevrolet that had been painted by hand with a brush and cost me $50. After getting my license, we were ready for the road. Nearby Ohio was calling with Lake Geneva, girls, dance halls and 3.2% beer. After crossing into Ohio from the Pennsylvania Turnpike, the old Chevy made a loud noise; smoked and metal parts could be heard hitting the highway.
Upon inspection, one of the pistons came up through the engine block and the old Chevy died. No phones or AAA, so we left the car off the side of the road and hitched a ride to Geneva. Since the car was only worth $50 no sense in going back, towing it or having repairs made to it, and besides the girls and the beer seemed the better course at the time.
The second car was a 1949 Plymouth Convertible, and on my way to Washington D.C., I decided to stop and visit the weather station at Dulles Airport west of the city. In those days, you could walk in the terminal and climb the stairs to the weather tower and chat with the weather people.
For a kid who loved anything about weather, this was just fantastic. I remember being shown their new WRS-57 weather radar, and as luck would have it, thunderstorms were developing west of the airport and were clearly visible on the radar. No red or orange or even green color in those days just a few shades of gray, but the darker shades did indicate heavier rainfall. I was so thrilled that I decided to cancel out on my visit to straighten out D.C. government and go to the Smithsonian Institute and visit the museums. Again for a kid off the streets of Pittsburgh, I was equally fascinated.
Later that day, the thunderstorms that were developing moved eastward across the D.C. area just as was forecast with heavy rain, wind, thunder and lightning. Again, I was fascinated and thrilled to witness this marvel of the environment and the technology that made the forecast possible.
Several evenings ago, I again got to see the marvel of technology, but this time, right from my front porch. The forecast called for a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms. The sky was just partly cloudy but darker to the west. As I sipped my evening coffee, clouds began to thicken and darken and within a few minutes a few drops of rain fell. Turning on my phone to the weather radar, I could see the green radar echo’s and yellow, orange and a few red just west of my location. Again, it was truly fascinating to watch the progression of the radar colors move directly overhead. The few drops of rain became a downpour, and when the lightning flashed, I decided to witness the remainder of the storm from inside. The first drops of rain fell about 8 p.m. and by 9 p.m. it was all over. The rain gauge measured an impressive 63/100s of an inch of rain.
The old cars and the WRS-57 radar are long gone to be recycled into something new. Perhaps that new weather radar on the dash of your new car was made from the car left on the turnpike or the recycled radar the government scraped years ago in Virginia.