EACHUS: modelcanes likely as we enter peak of the season
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.”
Especially near the peak of hurricane season, weather information consumption is at a higher than usual volume and particularly vulnerable to over-hyping. At a time in which tropical activity should be expected, one simple, forthcoming gesture of transparency from a weather source is often misconstrued as a forecast, and a scary one at that.
Tropics will be heating up next week. pic.twitter.com/MTx5ULHPLj— WeatherBELL (@weatherbell) August 28, 2018
The thing of it is, transparency is a good thing! However, in the wrong hands, it can become a runaway train of misinformation. For instance, "Model X is showing a tropical system near City A next weekend. This is just one low-chance, scenario to keep an eye on." Too easily, that is translated as "they're saying a hurricane is coming." Oh and by the way, when that scenario does not play out, who gets the blame? "They" or the meteorologist who never issued such a forecast in the first place!
Talked about more during hurricane season than any other time of the year… the “American” and “European” models are computer generated forecasts prone to creating misinformation if not viewed and shared responsibly. #183Days pic.twitter.com/rIUpT7YS56— WBRZ Weather (@WBRZweather) June 1, 2018
There are even meteorologists who subscribe to this fear-mongering formula as Facebook shares and Twitter retweets may appear as victory in the information and social equity arms race. The goal of a reputable weather source is more than likely to "protect life and property." At what point does information sharing cross the line of irresponsibility and actually do the opposite of good? There may be no right answer and no real way to measure this.
(Minus the satirical quotes, the title image to this story is one such example of a potentially problematic social media image, is not official and SHOULD NOT be retransmitted as weather forecast information)
Forecast models are not inherently bad, but using them often can be troublesome and short-sighted. Such images can be copied, re-purposed and used for hype and misinformation. Some forecasters may feel the need to validate a statement with imagery. But in all likelihood, if one follows you on social media, your information is already valid to them. At the very least, avoiding this as a communication strategy shows sensitivity to those left uneasy amidst tropical threats due to past experiences.
The WBRZ Weather Team works is mindful of these many factors to responsible weather messaging. We try to provide you with any and all information available when we believe it is an item worth your attention. Studies have shown that clear and consistent messages result in a better understanding of the forecast. For that reason, the WBRZ Weather Team and NOAA’s National Hurricane Center work in tandem to deliver official statements from the most skilled tropical forecasters in the United States. Be wary of sources that go rogue or issue their own statements. Receiving mixed messages from multiple sources can lead many people into questionable decision-making. For more information on developing a communication plan for tropical weather, visit our online hurricane center.
The WBRZ Weather Team is here for you, on every platform. Your weather updates can be found on News 2, wbrz.com, and the WBRZ WX App. on Apple and Android devices. Follow WBRZ Weather on Facebook and Twitter for even more weather updates while you are on the go.