Weather

Don't buy the hype, steal the truth

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Posted: Aug 20, 2014 10:48 AM by Meteorologist Josh Eachus
Updated: Aug 20, 2014 3:01 PM
Source: WBRZ

  Rating: 5.0 (4 votes)

Topics: weather, tropical, hurricane, hype

It is inescapable; a few times each year, significant weather systems affect the United States. More frequently, long-term forecast models hint at the possibility of a serious weather event and nothing ever materializes. And intolerably too often, long-term weather modeling gets into the wrong hands and becomes a "hype-cast."

Tuesday Afternoon, the GFS, an American computer weather model, placed a tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico late next week. As the Atlantic Basin rounds the bend into peak hurricane season, any such depiction bears watching. Forecast models like the GFS run 2-4 times daily. Meteorologists look for "run-to-run" consistency in models individually and agreement amongst many different models to increase confidence in a forecast. As of now, the two most reliable models have had a few corresponding, consistent runs to warrant attention, as does any tropical system this time of year.

Unfortunately, there are those who abuse this information and turn it into propaganda-a ploy for Facebook shares and Twitter retweets. Some have made blasphemous prophecies such as "hurricane threatens Gulf States next week." Quite simply, such a headline is an unscientific and irresponsible exclamation that contradicts the goal of a reputable meteorologist.

More troubling might be the reaction of seasoned meteorologists to this hype. They share and retweet the information themselves, of course with captions degrading the source for its bad information. Certainly worth pointing out, but also giving such a source exactly what it craves-more attention. Perhaps a more appropriate course of action would be to identify this source publicly, with a good old-fashioned "call-out." Another option, take the high road, and use time more efficiently by continuing to find and share accurate and reliable forecast data to those actively seeking out GOOD weather information.

The National Hurricane Center maintains a 50% chance of development for Invest 96L over the next five days.

The WBRZ Weather team has identified numerous obstacles Invest 96L would need to overcome for further development, including dry air and some wind shear the Caribbean Sea. Should it be able to make it through harsher conditions, forecast models carry the storm generally off to the WNW over the next 7 days.

The bottom line is, at such an early stage in the game, watching and staying prepared as usual is the extent of what should be done. Just like no outlandish forecasts should be made on one model's prediction alone, no brash life alterations should be made on long-term forecast possibilities alone.

As servants to the public with a goal of protecting life and property meteorologists can ask that you do yourself, your family and your friends a real favor. Don't buy into the hype. If you want a weather forecast to share or tweet, steal a reliable forecast from a trusted source-we won't mind.

You can get forecasts from Meteorologist Josh Eachus weekdays on 2une-In from 5-7 a.m. and News 2 at Noon from 12-1 p.m. Additionally, you can get the fastest and latest forecasts and weather news by checking in with wbrz.com/weather, connecting with Josh on Google+ and following him on Twitter.

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