Weather outlets going all in on fight metaphors for Sunday storm

Yesterday, the Washington Post declared the Sunday storm would "maul" New England. Today, Weather Underground says it will "pummel" us. We're beginning to feel woozy - somebody get us some smelling salts.



    Free tagging: 


    And if the Pats win

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    (oops, I meant WHEN. Please forgive me Great Pumpkin), I'm sure somebody will claim they used the weather to cheat. Get ready for Nor'easterGate.


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    I was watching the meteorologist on NECN this morning and he pointed to a wind gust forecast number on the map, but cautioned viewers to "not take this number literally".


    WHat they said on WBZ

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    The TV forecast mentioned that the models are showing extreme wind gusts that are expected at high altitudes, but that on the ground they would be lower.

    Because media weather forecasters are more interested

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    in the ratings that a "shock horror" forecast generates than in getting their forecast accurate.

    And the "don't take this too seriously " bit is another stupid sounding disclaimer that some overpaid corporate lawyer told them to say.

    The Signal and the Noise

    The chapter in Nate Silver's book, The Signal and the Noise, on weather forecasting was really interesting. Meteorology is one area where prediction has actually gotten much better over the last several decades. He provides a bit of insight on how the news channels will tweak their actual prediction intentionally rather than presenting what their models actually show and explains the rationale for that.

    Yep. Which is why, when there's a noticeable conflict

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    between the media reports and the NOAA broadcasts, I tend to trust the NOAA broadcasts more than the media.

    And the Weather Channel has gotten even more useless for me, now that they've reformatted their forecast sets so they are unwatchable for anyone with less than a 3,000 inch TV or monitor.

    Another Reason

    The NOAA folks that I know are kind of freaked by this. Tropical system merging into a Nor'easter is not only bad news in general, it is very difficult to predict and model bad news.

    It will be nasty.

    It may be bad or REALLY BAD.

    The last time they very badly underpredicted it . Said last time being 1991.

    Different type of storm

    Sandy was pretty much a straight up hurricane that went extratropical.

    Sandy was far easier to predict - she was huge and stable and organized and moving in a predictable fashion.

    This is tropical stuff merging with a Nor'Easter like the Perfect Storm. It forms up on top of us, rather than three or four days before it hits us.

    But why do we care so much?

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    It's a tropical system interacting with a frontal boundary. That's happened before. And even if it bombs out over us, it's going to be rainy and windy. How rainy? 2-4 inches (which we can handle). How windy? Maybe 50 mph with a few higher gusts, so nothing crazy. Low astronomical tides, so no worry about coastal flooding. Sunday will be a rainy windy day. There's not really much that needs to be said past that.

    Adam: IMHO not warranting a FTA. Keep the powder dry for another few weeks.

    Being anti-alarmist can be dangerous

    Low astronomical tides don't mean crap around here when it comes to storm surge - high or low tide matters overwhelmingly in coastal flooding in this region. That's because we have a tidal range of 8-14 feet or more, of which only 3-4 feet is due to astronomical effects.

    We got lucky during Sandy that a surge hit on a low tide and made it more like a King Tide than an innundation. That had nothing to do with it being astronomically high or low.

    That tells me right there that you are working with assumptions that are in error for the local environment.

    Yes this pattern has happened before and is not uncommon at this time of year. So? SCALE MATTERS. As with the tides, you don't seem to have any feel for that.

    You are clearly confusing mechanisms of storm formation with magnitude in your quest to "be a cool dude about it". I suggest that you go to Weather Underground and see what the commentary is there. They are currently saying that somewhere between Western Maine and New York State may be getting as much as 8" of rain in a very short time frame. Like Irene.

    If Sandy is your idea of easy to predict...

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    If Sandy was so easy, why did all but one of the models get it badly wrong until the last minute, and why did so many of the forecasts and plans underestimate the effects?

    Your "straight up hurricane that went extratropical" set records for things like how large an area had tropical-force winds from the same storm at the same time. Hurricanes eventually go extratropical; they don't usually breach seawalls, tear up train tracks, and flood multiple subway tunnels.