The National Weather Service disclosed today that hackers gained entry into their computer systems and modified the first day of spring. Rather than March 20, the first day of spring could now come as late as April. The FBI is investigating the unauthorized entry. The Director of the National Weather Service, Dr. Louis Uccellini, said technicians will "move heaven and earth" to restore the first day of spring to the correct date.
Dr. Uccellini would not formally commit to completing the necessary fixes to have spring begin on time. "We may have to settle for mid-April," he said. He expressed confidence that summer would not be impacted. "I can assure you that summer 2005 will start right on time, you can bet your sprinkler on it."
The FBI believes the system entry was done by a single individual, possibly a person who has been traumatized by inaccurate weather predictions. They are reviewing the 200,000 threats the NWS has received in the last 12 months. "You can make a lot of people mad if your weather forecast is wrong," said FBI Special Agent Wanda Broane. An FBI profile describes the hacker as a male between 16 and 25, pale, and possibly obsessed with the Weather Channel.
A late spring could have a serious effect on the economy by causing increased heating bills and delaying the start of warm weather consumer purchases. Retailers are angry that the NWS was not prepared for this kind of break-in. "It was just a matter of time before somebody really did do something about the weather," said a statement from the American Plastic Pool Council. "We are disappointed that the NWS does not have the security measures in place to protect the integrity of our seasonal calendar."
Psychologists are concerned that prolonging an already grim winter will adversely impact the nation's mental health. "People look forward to spring with great hope," said Dr. Gifford Goldman, "and waiting another month may be just too much for some people." He said his chain of Florida condos was offering reduced rates to customers who were clinically depressed due to the delay of spring.
A spokesman for Major League Baseball denied reports that players had doubled their normal steroid order so they could be prepared for cold weather play.