Someone once advised me to avoid writing about the weather, advice, which, although probably sound, I manage to ignore on a regular basis.

The reason for staying away from weather stories is that by the time we rush something into print the climatic conditions have changed five times, and the drought we reported a week ago has morphed into monsoon, sleet, hail and snow melt, with a fair dose of dust storms if you happen to live in West Texas or Oklahoma. And an occasional tornado rips through just to add a bit of suspense.

The reason I ignore sage advice, aside from my penchant for being obstinate, is that weather, especially in the Southwest, is just too fascinating to ignore. So I was more than a bit amused recently to read a news story from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting weather for the coming growing season.

Guess what, Texas will be drier than normal! And hotter.

Alert the media. No, wait, I am the media and I have been alerted. Never mind.

Neither of the weather twins, Nino nor his sister Nina, will be in residence this summer, which does not mean that all weather is put on hold until one or the other gets back from wherever weather nymphs vacation. Strange, they never spend any time at home together. Must be lonely.

An expert explains. “There is neither an El Nino nor La Nina in place; therefore, we expect a typical level of springtime variability in temperature and precipitation to occur in many areas of the nation,” said Conrad C. Lautenbacher, administrator of NOAA. (I’ve always thought it appropriate that the agency in charge of bad weather would be named for the man who rode out the worst storm in the history of the world. And on a homemade boat.)

I’d like, however, a better definition of “typical level of springtime variability in temperature and precipitation.” That says to me that folks don’t have a clue what the weather is gong to be like in April.

Wonder what the Farmer’s Almanac has to say about weather patterns for the coming months. I think I have the 2004 edition, but if not I’ll just check last years. They all seem pretty much the same.

Okay, for April, the Harris Farmers Almanac predicts temperatures below normal and precipitation slightly above normal. Coolest weather should occur on April 1, 6-9, 14-18 and 24-29. The average temperature ranges from 53 in the north of the Southwest Region to 61 to the south.

May also will see temperatures lightly below normal and precipitation slightly above. Harris agrees with NOAA that things heat up in June and July, with temperatures slightly hotter in both months and precipitation about average for June but slightly less than usual for July.

August will be about average for both rainfall and temperature, which means it likely will be hot enough to toast a toad and dry enough to turn him to dust.

September and October temperatures and precipitation should be near normal.

I’ve lived in the Southwest for going on five years now and I’m still waiting on a stretch of normal weather. I’m afraid that normal, in weather terms, means consistently variable, which seems oxymoronic to me. How can something be consistent and variable at the same time?

I will go out on a limb, however, and make my own prediction about Southwest weather for the 2004 growing season.

It will be interesting.

e-mail: rsmith@primediabusiness.com