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Josh - My question was meant to go a bit deeper. Do the people that are looking at the SPC site know what "preliminary" means in our context? Do the non-meteorologist/non-weather-educated people using these data know what a tornado report represents? I wonder if sometimes we make assumptions about how much people know about our field. I don't think it's fair to lay all the blame at the feet of those who are receiving our messages if we haven't thoroughly evaluated our messages ourselves.
Toggle Commented Apr 18, 2012 on A Plea to the National Media at WSFA Weather
I'm asking this as a serious question, so please don't think I'm trying to troll. How do journalists know that the data on the SPC storm reports page doesn't correlate to an exact number of tornados? Is it possible that at least part of the problem comes from us and how we communicate?
Toggle Commented Apr 17, 2012 on A Plea to the National Media at WSFA Weather
The idea of weather forecasts being solely the turf of the TV stations has been eroding away slowly - until snow. The Richmond weather gauntlet has been thrown down. I've been privileged to spend the last 16 months interacting with some of these people on Twitter and through other social media outlets, and I've learned quite a bit over that time. I've been equally privileged in my ability to share my own knowledge with the community at large and become what I believe to be a trusted weather source for the region. Meteorologists, no matter their employer, often start from behind the 8-ball. A simple search of the phrase "meteorologist" on Twitter, or a perusal of the comment threads on an RTD article about the weather gives one an impression of not only the cynicism directed at meteorologists, but also the wealth of resources that are available for citizens that have the time and inclination to give themselves an education in atmospheric science and forecasting. (Truth be told, I'm one of those people. I'm not a degreed meteorologist...yet, but I know that my education is going to be buffeted by the real-world experience that I've gained.) Some of the events of the past two weeks have taken me by as much surprise as everyone else. It's clear there are new players in town, and the weather business isn't the same as it was just a few weeks ago. John, I know you don't want to point fingers, but aggression is very much what has driven some of this discussion. It's not unique to Richmond or to 2010; the push to come out with more detail sooner, and to issue forecasts for longer periods of time has been one building in the industry for several years. Media outlets have been trying to outdo each other for a while now. A certain State College-based national weather company prides itself on its 15-day forecasts...which aren't terribly accurate (Source: I think some of the aggression that's being seen is an extension of this. Based on my own experiences talking to people about the recent winter weather, it's clear to me that Richmonders eat up anything involving the word "snow." (If only Orhan Pamuk could sell more books here!) Anyone who can provide accurate forecast information and beat the traditional media to the punch is going to be in high demand.
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