Throughout the year, there are various times when a significant weather event is forecast for various parts of the country.
Whether it be a big snowstorm or a severe weather outbreak, there are times to pay a little more attention to impending weather.
Snowstorms can be a big impact, but they evolve over time and the snow usually last for hours, if not days.
My post is more about severe weather episodes.
I am talking, in particular, about the big events with potential far-reaching effects in many areas as opposed to a pop-up storm that might be marginally severe.
Severe weather, for me, is perhaps the most exciting weather of all.
I say exciting because it is amazing to see the atmosphere become so volatile in such a short period of time.
Skies can go from clear to holding a tornadic storm in less than half an hour.
This happens when all the right things (temperature, moisture, wind shear, triggering mechanism, etc.) all come together just right.
When it looks like these things might come together, the Storm Prediction Center starts issuing outlooks for the possibility of severe weather.
In some cases, this can be as far as 8 days out.
As more data comes in, the areas under the gun are fine-tuned and depending on the “ingredients”, some folks could be placed in (from least potential impact to highest potential impact) a marginal risk, slight risk, enhanced risk, moderate risk, or high risk.
Those are more explained here:
And if you want more than a general explanation, you can read more here:
Today’s post isn’t about the categories, it’s about what people hear from us weather folk and how they (mis)interpret what may or may not unfold.
As mentioned earlier, for a big severe weather event to unfold, a lot of things need to come together just right.
That scenario unfolded last week in the southern Plains.
The Storm Prediction Center started issuing outlooks for that area 7 days out!
In the days leading up to the day of the event, the forecast was still calling for significant severe weather…and a moderate risk was issued for many areas.
Leading up to the event, many meteorologists, both in that area and in other parts of the country (including me), were mentioning the severe weather risk.
A lot of folks seem to think this is “hyping” the weather.
Other folks think we talk about severe weather “to get ratings”.
Neither one of these is true…at least in general terms.
Are there a scant few individuals who hype the weather?
Sure. But the vast majority are like me and just tell it like it is.
I have thought about this a lot, and perhaps folks who watch the weather every day maybe interpret talking about severe weather chances for a particular day in the days leading up to it as hype.
No, it’s called making people aware of a potential weather situation in which life and property may be in danger.
Just because you one person may watch the weather every day doesn’t mean everyone does.
Some folks may catch one of my forecasts, and they get that information on a potential outbreak in that singular forecast.
And making a forecast just “to get ratings” is just ridiculous.
What does that even mean?
Do people really think we control the weather?
Now, back to the situation last week in the southern Plains.
A lot of folks (primarily on social media) spouted off claiming the forecast was “a bust” because the weather just wasn’t “that severe”.
There were nearly 500 severe weather reports that day.
Of those, 25 were tornadoes.
Some hail that fell was LARGER than softballs!
Some wind gusts were measured over 90 MPH.
So I guess since there were no wedge tornadoes going through a populated area, then the forecast was a bust?
This is the uphill climb we, as meteorologists, face all the time.
The forecast verified based on the number of severe weather reports.
But the public doesn’t see that because there just wasn’t enough carnage.
I’ll bet the folks who are still cleaning up storm damage even a week later would argue it wasn’t a bust forecast.
Look, I don’t get the forecast right every time.
And you know what?
Nobody is more annoyed at me getting a forecast wrong…than me.
I got into weather because I would watch a forecast and then wonder why, in some cases, we got rain instead of snow, or vice versa.
I always try and be as accurate as possible.
I am always learning more and more about weather.
But I’ll never know it all.
And if you want to let me know how annoyed you are that I was off by 2 degrees, or it didn’t rain at your house when we had a 40% chance of rain, please do.
I can take it…I’m a big boy.
The bottom line is: I don’t hype the weather.
I don’t give particular forecasts “to get ratings”.
Severe weather is something to be taken seriously, and if this guy is on your TV talking about it, it’s not because I’m trying to drum up business.
I’m just trying to keep you and your family safe.