Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Journalism

Weather Forecasts Under Fire as Hurricane Season Intensifies

Hurricane Season runs through the end of November, but September is the peak month, which means weather forecasts get crazy this time of year.

I saw an interesting and amusing comment on Facebook yesterday to a post about the latest computer model on what was then Tropical Depression Nine. That storm has since been upgraded to Tropical Storm Hermine and could reach hurricane status before it makes landfall in Florida.

Once a storm reaches a certain intensity, the National Hurricane Center ups the frequency with which it posts updates on the storm’s position and strength, prompting forecasters to update their projections of where the storm will go based on its speed, its path, wind patterns, ocean temperatures and various other factors I won’t pretend to know.

Weather authorities are obliged to let their followers know the latest information. That includes local television stations, of course, particularly when projections place a storm or its effects in close proximity at some point in that station’s viewing area.

To one of those updates, I saw someone say something along the lines of this:

Let’s face it: no one really knows exactly where this is going to go.

Well, yeah.

That’s because weather is a fluid situation. There are multiple factors involved in forecasting a weather event. And each of those factors depends on myriad variables that are constantly changing themselves.

Maybe the media should break in with a “special report” to point out what I’d think would be obvious: human beings don’t control the weather. Certainly, we humans may have an influence on weather in terms of climate by our behavior. (You can argue that point all you like.)

But there’s no secret technology to point some sort of tractor beam we can point at a storm system and “steer” it a certain way. If there were, no storm would ever make landfall, would there?

No one really knows where this thing is going to go.

But ever-evolving technology and detailed training and experience make the difference in being able to offer an informed prediction — an “educated guess” — a storm’s most-likely¯ path.

If you’re not a fan of weather forecasts because you feel there’s too much uncertainty, your best bet is probably to just not watch the weather and to stop opening those weather apps on your smartphone. If you want certainty when it comes to weather, your best bet is to just walk around without the benefit of any forecast and hope for the best.

But if you find yourself in the middle of a downpour, you’ll at least be able to say with certainty, after you’re soaking wet, that it definitely rained.

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Patrick
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.