Do we expect too much from our TV weatherpeople?

As weather computer models churned late yesterday and spit out results that showed far, far less snow this weekend than originally predicted, some of our local forecasters braced for criticism. Some discussion on Twitter last night:



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Well just as easy on the eyes

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Well just as easy on the eyes newscasters are part of the news broadcast and the ratings ( and the price of commercial air time ), so is the otherwise bland ( to some , not me ) weather segment. The pre-storm hype gets people to tune in , or at least pay attention. You get what you get when you get it with weather. Take it with a grain of salt, but be like a scout , always prepared.

They did a fine job this time

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They did a fine job this time and I don't think they milked it for ratings to any larger degree than you would expect from artificial, consultant driven, B.S. local news broadcasts. But during Hurricane Sandy--now that was a very different animal in New England. The National Weather Service was telling us that this was not going to be a big deal in MA "24 hours out" but the local news channels were still in melt-down mode and that was clearly played for ratings and entertainment and it was revolting and in fact nearing something like criminal.

Sandy was oversold?

Yeah, we didn't get the worst of it (NY and NJ did), but in what way were the advance warnings and preparations inappropriate?

Ehh I don't know. Back on

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Ehh I don't know. Back on Wednesday, in conversations at work, I was wondering out loud how they could be predicting 6-10 inches in the metro area while the 5-day forecast bar right next to the infographic was calling for 40-degree highs and lows still above 32. There seemed to be some fundamental confusion going on, or at least disjointed communication.

Think of the storage!

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But the real problem is, what a re people going to do with all those extra loaves of bread and gallons of milk?

My mother heard an interview

My mother heard an interview with Bruce Schwoegler on the radio in the early 2000s (remember Bruce?). He said that he quit when a 27 year old 'consultant' told him to start doing 5 day forecasts. When he told the guy that forecasts 5 days out weren't reliable, he was told 'it doesn't matter.' He decided that when the quality of his work didn't matter, it was time to leave.


What does at 27 year-old consultant know that Bruce Schwoegler doesn't?

Consultancy itself isn't the evil. They're there because companies are hiring them. I even know some consultants, in other fields, though, who actually know what they're doing.

But let's draw a line, here. Let the consultants fret about the look of the set, graphics, whether anchors sit or stand in the studio, and how close to one another behind the desk. Sometimes those things require an outside, more objective eye. Otherwise, let's leave meteorology up to the people who actually know weather, and news up to the folks who know news, etc. I'm pretty sure they can look at ratings and decide for themselves what directions to take. Otherwise, they have no business being in that business.

We were robbed!

We lost the opportunity to have 18 hours of continuous babble about snow and weather. We didn't get to see reporters out in the cold and snow desperately seeking ways to entertain themselves and the crew. We didn't get to hear man or woman on the street interviews of no consequence, but sometimes in greater need of relief from poor dental health and/or a tenuous grasp of English than snow.

You DO have to watch much of the circus, actually

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They ramp it up so much that all promos, and more of them, are geared towards weather

And the 6:00pm and 11:00pm news shows skew so far that way that other content, like sports and national news, is not shown.

And with the hyped up reports I'm not getting the more concise and accurate reports I need.

So, while turning off the TV is an option it's not a solution.

February sweeps month

This is February sweeps period, when the newscasters put out the crazy, attention-grabbing stories to gin up ratings and then use those ratings to justify higher advertising rates. The Blizzard of 2013 was a huge gift to the sweeps period not just because of the dangerousness of the blizzard, but also from that Wednesday to late Sunday, viewers were a captive audience, thanks to the travel ban. Boston stations fell over themselves trying to get their reporters to toss snowballs, to stand in huge drifts, to indulge in happy idiot network talk, etc.

This current storm deflated the expectations of newscasters. The newscasters wanted another opportunity to turn on the hype machine, but the unpredictability of the storm put a kibosh on that. No snowballs, no conga lines of plows, no Ed Harding with his serious glasses on, no Shelby Scott. Even if we get snow, it won't be much.

Certainly, we're in an active late winter weather pattern, and there will likely be more opportunities for snow, but when you wishcast the weather (where you hope every snowstorm lives up to the reputation of the Blizzard of 1978) it not only harms viewers who need solid information and have it waylaid by happy idiot network talk, but it harms the credibility of meteorologists who have to tell their viewers they were incorrect in their predictions. The mets are not at fault for having Mother Nature change her mind; they did their best to come to a conclusion.

There was plenty of snow

The storm just developed more north than expected.

I drove from Northern NH to Boston last night and there was PLENTY of snow coming down and deteriorating conditions through the White Mountains and I-93 down to 15-20 mph for about an hour.

The weather forecasts are just a very educated guess - mother nature just had other plans for us last night. A 2-degree shift in temperature was all it took for it not to stick in the Boston area.

Considering the kinds of disasters that happened before weather people were able to track storms, monitor conditions, and predict things, we probably shouldn't be complaining if a 2 degree temp swing or 50 mile shift spares us something that could have been much worse and we wouldn't ever have seen coming.