Don't Have A Cow: Simpsons Springfield Weather
By Jesse Ferrell, Meteorologist/Community Director
4/17/2012, 6:11:25 AM
We all know that The Simpsons live in Springfield, but what state? In order to be able to use all kinds of story lines, the answer is of course, all of them. For years, Comic-Book-Guy-like nerds have opined about which state might really contain the fictional city (of which there are 71 in the United States).
PHOTO CAPTION: Mmmm... cookies (by istolethetv on Flickr)
It would seem that Matt Groening has now set the record straight: Springfield, Oregon (right next to Eugene) was the inspiration for the town (news story | video). At first glance, it seems plausible... there was a nuclear power plant in operation 3 hours north of Springfield, OR when the show started out in 1989, and southeast Oregon (not further away) is considered a desert, so the basic geography (including mountains and proximity to the ocean) check out.
Yet in the 22 years of the show, the characters have found themselves in a number of severe weather situations; are those realistic in southwest Oregon? Let's take a look below. NOTE: The data used here is for neighbor Eugene, Oregon, which is an official climate station.
SNOW D'OH!: In "Mr. Plow" enough snow falls during a short period that Homer takes up a job as a snowplow driver. In "Skinner's Sense of Snow" the local school doesn't close due to snow, even though those around it choose to. Here, we see feet of snow. Given that the city itself has never received more than 10.8 inches of snow in one month and feet of snow are depicted, this one fails the test (although nearby towns in the mountains would receive copious amounts). WEATHER MAN SAYS: IMPROBABLE
MMMM... TORNADO...: A tornado is observed whisking Patti & Selma away in ""Bart Gets an Elephant". The tornado is spinning clockwise, which is rare in the Northern Hemisphere, but it does happen. It turns out that tornadoes in Eugene are also rare, but four have touched down in modern history, so twisters (especially weak ones as depicted here) are possible. WEATHER MAN SAYS: POSSIBLE
HI-DIDDLY-HO TEMPERATURES, NEIGHBOR: In "Bart of Darkness" a severe heat wave develops during the summer, causing an injured Bart to go insane in his bedroom while the other kids play in his pool. Eugene has had a maximum of six days in one month with a temperature over 90 F, which, although they would need to be subsequent would qualify as a heat wave, though it would be a rare occurrence. WEATHER MAN SAYS: POSSIBLE
PHOTO CAPTION: The creepy 3-D versions (by popculturegeek on Flickr)
CRAPTASTIC CLOUDS: Having been a long-time fan of the show, I can say that, generally, the sky is depicted as sunny, or partly cloudy with cumulus clouds, in the show. This may be the most inaccurate of all. It's nearly impossible to have a clear day there because the average cloud cover is over 90% between October and March, according to WeatherSpark.com, compared to Washington, D.C., which never reaches 90%. Like Seattle, Eugene/Springfield is too close to the coast, and clouds dominate). WEATHERMAN SAYS: IMPROBABLE
HURRICANE NEDDY: The episode of the same name welcomes "Hurricane Barbara" to Springfield (with no warning). Hurricanes have never occurred on the West Coast (except for one tropical storm in southern California). The name "Barbara" has been used 7 times in the Atlantic and Pacific (map below), but only once (1953) has it hit land. I agree with what Benjamin Jay Robinson said on SNPP: "A small tornado picked up Homer. This makes sense, actually, since hurricanes spawn tornadoes. Flanders' localized damage looks like the result of a tornado hit." I'll spare you the scientific inaccuracies in this episode which are well documented there. Although hurricane-force winter storms can occur in the real Springfield, OR, based solely on the fact that Eugene is in Oregon, I'm calling this one impossible. WEATHERMAN SAYS: IMPOSSIBLE
So in the end, Oregon doesn't pass the meteorological test. But some theatrical license is warranted, so don't have a cow, man.
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WeatherMatrix - April 12, 2019, 4:35:51 PM EDT
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WeatherMatrix - March 19, 2019, 6:43:07 PM EDT
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