Social Media and Disasters – Guest Post

Below is a guest post from Tanya Ferraro. She is a Medical Reserve Corps Coordinator for two emergency-based units that cover southwestern and central Virginia, and she has been working in the emergency management field since 2007.

The original post can be found at her blog; she brings up fascinating points about how the general public has begun to react to disasters in the social media age.  For those involved in Weather and Society Integrated Studies (WAS*IS), it may give some insight into the split-second decision making processes involved when individuals are faced with a mortal threat with little time to prepare.

Of particular interest was the paragraph about fear… and the public’s disconnect with crises. We often hear about the public’s desire to confirm a tornado visually before seeking shelter after a Tornado Warning is issued.

Similarly, I wonder if this paralysis and/or denial leads to the occasional parties we hear about at the oceanfront only a few hours before a landfalling hurricane, or the apparent desire to walk (or drive!) into rushing flood waters.  Onward…

* * * * *

The Perversion of Social Media

The article shares the point of view of Lt. Anthony Williams (the off-duty responder) who attempted to assist in the incident as he pulled on-scene to a burning car where reportedly two people died, burned beyond recognition.  He recalled onlookers pointing their phones at the scene in his peripheral vision and called it “the perversion of social media” that they would be more interested in capturing video footage instead of helping the victims.  That phrase caught my attention and left me wondering…is that where social media has now led the public in emergency situations?

BipHkL_CcAApVR4 Post plane-crash selfie…

Upon further investigation, I found that even being a part of disaster situations isn’t enough to distract from the need to immediately share those experiences on social media.  You can search for  “selfie after plane crash” or “selfie after stabbed” and there are, in fact, results that turn up by the plenty.  Another video seen today made light of a teenager with his dad who saw a semi-truck stuck on some rail road tracks.  As a train approached, they began recording the unfolding incident and the video was soon uploaded to YouTube and shared across the web.  And the teenager literally stood in the middle of the debris saying, “is this real life??”

So what is encouraging the public to make these choices during disaster situations?  I would argue it’s actually a list on influences that should be considerably eye-opening for my fellow emergency management focused friends, especially in their planning and response strategies.

The public isn’t empowered enough to act during disaster.  

We spend a lot of our time telling people what they can’t touch, where there can’t go, what can’t do, what they can’t say, or generally protecting whatever “territory” we feel is ours that it’s no wonder community members look a a crisis unfolding and feel helpless to do anything.  For the lay community member, what is outside of their daily job function is outside of their “basement” level thinking – the kind of thinking that happens naturally and automatically in response to a stressful situation. (I should note that concept is learned from a 2011 meta-leadership seminar I attended!)  For the officer in the story above, jumping into response mode was the obvious choice.  For the other bystanders, they’re so often made to feel that the only thing they can and should be allowed to do is wait patiently.  Is this all encompassing, of course not.  Is it pretty common?  Well, the story above is one of many examples.

The public experiences fear, and fear can be paralyzing.

One of my favorite books related to emergency management was Amanda Ripley’s The Unthinkable.  It’s a great read, not too complicated and very eye opening about the reactions people have to disasters.  Plane going down?  Everyone shares a laugh. Building burning down?  Let’s wait and see what’s REALLY going to happen.  Fear paralyzes people, removes their normal thought process and makes excuses against what they’re experiencing to put it in a more digestable format.  When you’re afraid, the ability to make rational decisions is quickly diminished, and that lack of recognition and decision making is paralyzing.  What do you do when you don’t know what to do?  Which leads me to my next thought…

The public has a disconnect with crises. 

We’re not empowering them, and without knowledge or training there is fear.  And where there is fear and inexperience there is a disconnect from what a crisis really is: a bad situation that can happen to anyone, anytime that is completely dependent on who will step up to handle it.  The 24-7 news-like exposure folks have to disaster in our culture so often puts them in a realm of automatic disconnect to the reality of it that when it’s in front of them, it automatically turns into almost a movie-like experience.  As long as nothing happens to someone, they will believe that nothing will happen to them.  And when it happens to others, it’s a very unfortunate, very impersonal scene that they haven’t been given a role to play in.

The public processes information in a very unprecedented way.  

There was a point in my life that if I didn’t know what to do, I’d open my phone and click on Twitter.  Or I’d sit down to do a task at my computer and type “Faceb…” before I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to be doing.  Am I proud of this fact?  No way!  “Recovering” is a more accurate description.  The point is, social media is a decision A LOT of people make when we’re in the basic, “basement” way of thinking.  Nowadays, events haven’t been experienced until they’ve been shared.  They’re not processed unless they’re discussed.  We use social media to document information, to show we’re the first to know it, to receive empathy, to alert that we’re okay, to share the unbelievable.  We use social media to experience that which simply “can’t be happening to me” during the times we “can’t do anything about it” because it isn’t real life until we can go through our notes with those we connect with.

Yes, I realize I’m speaking in absolutes, recognizing this is a thought for a general population and not all-encompassing.  But you get the idea.  It is a terrible tragedy that anyone should lose their life needlessly in disaster.  It’s even worse when there are things that can be done that aren’t done, whether for ones self (evacuating, preparing, sheltering…) or for others.

So what are you going to change about your message and your interactions with your community to humanize the emergency management field, empower your citizens and foster a whole community response to keep these things from happening any more?

Tweet #BiggerThanMyself or mention me @tjlasagna if you have some suggestions.  If this is a topic you’d like to see researched further, please also let me know.

Posted in Sociology, Weather Communications | Tagged , , , , ,

Farmers’ Almanacs – For Entertainment Purposes Only

First of all… which one? There are two, and they are different.

But really, it doesn’t matter if it’s The Old Farmer’s Almanac or just The Farmers’ Almanac.  That’s like choosing between palm readers.

As a general rule, I have no reason to believe any farmers’ almanac. Weather forecasting involves certain physical relationships: thermodynamics, conservation of mass, wave motion, ocean circulations, and other things I would probably never mention on television. Heaven knows we are not perfect, but I think on the large-scale, we do a pretty good job.

Show me the data

How do the farmers’ almanacs do it? They don’t tell.

So why should I trust them? They allude to solar cycles, moon phases, tides. One of them even claims their secret weather forecasting formula is locked away in a box in New Hampshire (for some reason, this makes me hungry for fried chicken).

I’ll show my data to anyone who wants to see it.  But most people don’t really want to see it.  They just want to know if it’s going to rain or not.  Is it going to be warm or cold?  Is it going to snow?  How much?

The general public has very little interest in why.  So, if they don’t know (or care), will they be able to tell the difference between someone who tools through the data on a daily basis and a faceless organization generating publicity to sell books?

On a deeper level, it says something about the level of science illiteracy in the country. But I digress.  My friend, Dan Satterfield can run with that one.

To be fair, one almanac mentions that they use climatological records, and they hold firm to the belief that certain weather patterns are repeated over the long-term. I can respect that… it’s called analog forecasting. So I would imagine some of their methodology is perfectly valid, but I cannot verify it, so I cannot trust it.

Amazingly, one of them boasts 80% accuracy. If it were that good, they would all be rich from trading weather-based commodities.  They would have investment banks and energy companies beating down their doors for their data.

And if they are right once in a while?  Well, even a stopped clock is correct two times a day.

How soon we forget. Consider one of the forecasts for summer 2014. Oppressive heat was all the rage. Unless you are on the West Coast, that forecast, as my friend Jason Samenow points out at the Capital Weather Gang, was laughably wrong.

I’m certainly no better. But I don’t pretend to be. This type of forecasting is only in its infancy. Let the buyer beware.

This blog was modified from an original post on, with an update for 2014.

Posted in Sociology, Weather Communications | Tagged , , , , ,

Fracking Quakes

Last week, I was able to attend a short course on hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes. Hydraulic fracturing, colloquially known as fracking, involves pumping vast amounts of water deep into the ground to extract natural gas. The process has been around for more than 50 years, but it has recently become much more widespread, particularly in Oklahoma.

Three individuals spoke at the course, representing industry, consulting, and academia, and their message was consistent.

Fracking and Quakes

Fracking, all by itself, does not cause earthquakes.  We looked at the number of fracking wells and the location of the earthquakes in Oklahoma, and there was no direct correlation. Data below was provided from the Oklahoma Geological Survey through the University of Oklahoma:


Location of hydraulic fracturing wells (blue) and earthquakes (pink) in Oklahoma from December 2009 to May 2012. Quakes occur along existing faults.

However, as noted above, we did see clusters of quakes in several places in Oklahoma. These are locations where faults are already in place, but do not have much dynamic pressure. They are not dormant, but there is not enough ambient pressure on them to move, so earthquakes are not naturally common.

Earthquakes can be triggered by forcibly changing the load on the faults (i.e. shifting the weight).  This can be done by building a reservoir (water is heavy), changing temperatures below ground, or increasing the internal pressure within the rocks (pore pressure).  The pore pressure is where fracking comes in.

The water from the wells that is forced into the ground, typically at 6000-10,000 pounds per square inch, is absorbed into the rock as well as diffusing into the fault.  This changes the stress on the fault, triggering an earthquake.

While some of these quakes are large enough to be felt, the effects are usually limited to shaking intensity IV.  This level of intensity correlates closely (but not perfectly) to a Magnitude 4.0.  The vast majority of the quakes, however, are substantially weaker, and largely imperceptible during day-to-day activities.

According to the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale provided by the US Geological Survey, shaking intensity IV is:

Felt indoors by many, outdoors by few during the day. At night, some awakened. Dishes, windows, doors disturbed; walls make cracking sound. Sensation like heavy truck striking building. Standing motor cars rocked noticeably.

Just how bad can one of these induced quakes get? The ideas fall into two camps, which was seen on this slide at the session:


When done correctly, fracking does not appear to affect underground water supplies, and we did not discuss the reports of natural gas leaking into water supplies.

However, what happens in the real world?  There are lots of variables in place. Are shortcuts taken by the rank and file when these wells are drilled, either with, or without a supervisor’s notice?

Below is another video demonstrating the risks.

Both of the above videos were suggested to us by those running the short course.

* * *

Finally, The National Research Council has its say:

So it would seem that fracking is not going to destabilize the earth’s crust and cause phenomenal earthquakes, but the process is not without some risk.  From our notes:

It can be difficult to say with any certainty whether seismic activity in a given area is only caused by industry activity or natural causes, especially if seismic monitoring data is limited.

Predicting Earthquakes

While predicting earthquakes is an attractive proposition, there has been no progress in making in skillful predictions.  It is just too difficult to get the level of data necessary to make an educated guess.  As the slide below suggests, don’t expect any progress toward it anytime soon.

* * *

The course had several sponsors:

American Meteorological Society, Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology, National Science Foundation, Oklahoma Geological Survey, and R.M. Habiger Consultants LLC.

Posted in Science (non-atmospheric)

Lightning and Youth Sports

I thought in 2014 the message would be obvious.


My son plays youth baseball. One evening in May, a thunderstorm approached the fields where he was playing.  I was needed in the office, and my wife was at the game. We communicated back and forth regarding the movement of this lone thunderstorm cell.

Both my wife and I are professional meteorologists. We both carry a lightning detection app on our phones.  The app costs two dollars.

In between innings at our son’s game, she made the umpire aware that lightning was within 5 miles of the field. Unfortunately, the umpire invoked his machismo and was initially dismissive of this information, telling her, “I’ll keep an eye on it,” as the game continued.

While our son’s game was briefly suspended a short time later, other games at the complex were allowed to continue without regard to the nearby storm.

I understand the desire to get the games in.

I know there is a sentiment that it can’t happen here.

I watch as crowd mentality takes over. People grumble and complain when there is a weather delay, especially if there is no rain coming down, and the thunder seems distant.

I recognize that, statistically, a lightning strike at any one particular spot is a low probability event.

However, when thunder is audible, that location is at immediate risk of a lightning strike. It is not uncommon for lightning to strike 10 miles away from the center of a storm. In rare cases, 20 miles away.  It happens.  You may not have seen it happen, but it does happen. 

Let me make this simple for anyone who is in charge of a youth sports organization or an umpire.  If you hear thunder, GET THE KIDS OFF THE FIELD!

Courtesy: NOAA Photo Library and the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

Courtesy: NOAA Photo Library and the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

There were 23 lightning fatalities in the United States in 2013. I have twice spoken to a support group consisting of people who have survived lightning strikes. Their stories are harrowing.

My wife and I are continually disturbed by the cavalier attitude many umpires show toward lightning. Perhaps it is not fair to single out a particular umpire, but it is symptomatic of a wider problem.  Consider how a few people responded to the situation I shared above.

Beth Tucker: “AMEN !!!!!!!!!!!!! My 14 year old nephew was struck & tragically killed by lightning June 9, 2007. He was running with his brother to shelter when the isolated storm came up. GET THOSE CHILDREN INSIDE !!!!!!!!!!!”

Charlene Bostic: “My daughter was just missed by a lightning strike 6 years ago. It hit two trees less than 10 feet away. It killed the trees. My daughter said she felt the hair on her body standing up. She saw a ball of light shoot out of the ground where she was just standing before she ran to the work building in our yard.”

Nate McClure: “I was appalled last night at how long the Athletic Association waited before getting everyone off the field.”

* * *

If you run a youth athletic sports program and have a lightning safety plan, thank you. Be sure it is enforced.

If there is not, one should be immediately developed. Umpires must enforce a consistent lightning policy. As a parent and meteorologist, I will not stand idly by while an umpire, with no experience or reliable data, and under peer pressure from parents, forces a game to continue when there is a legitimate risk to the safety of the players.

As a professional, I recommend an immediate pause in the game upon any audible thunder.  Or at absolute minimum, let the batter finish his/her at bat, then clear the field. The suggested subsequent course of action is for all people to seek shelter in their automobiles, however, each individual must be responsible for his/her own safety.

Play should not resume until at least 15 minutes after the last audible thunder. Thirty minutes is a better suggestion. That is the amount of time set by the Virginia High School League and is consistent with guidelines from the National Weather Service

And look, I get it.  I cannot count how many times a thunderstorm has drifted safely by, only 3 or 4 miles away.  Inevitably, a spectator needs to chest-thump, “See, I knew it was going miss us.”

Yes. It missed. No one is dead. The roulette wheel did not come up with green double zeroes.

Image from

Image from

This is usually the same person who “knows” they are going to win the lottery. 

It is in the best legal interest of any youth sports organization to have a policy in place before something tragic happens.

As I mentioned on social media previously, if you like to chances, go play Yahtzee.  I will not let you do it at a youth baseball game.



Posted in Sociology, Sports, Weather Communications

Open Letter to Leesville Road Elementary School

Thank you. That’s the short version.

This week, the younger of my two children finished his time at Leesville Road Elementary School. My older child is now well into high school, also having walked through its halls.

When we moved here as a young family in early 2004, my wife and I drove by the school and would often say to one another, “That’s where our kids will be going to elementary school.”

Now, it’s where our kids went to elementary school.

Some of you have come and gone, moved on, or retired. Some of you have stayed the course for these last 10 years. But you all have had some influence. So if you worked there between 2004 and 2014, thank you.  Teachers, counselors, administrators, support staff… thank you.

Thank you for welcoming me whenever I visited the school, whether it was to see my children, volunteer, or attend an assembly.

It is not perfect, and I recognize that. Although, I still cannot comprehend that segment of the population that takes pleasure in demeaning your work, especially given the time and budget constraints placed upon you.  So, thank you for your time, energy, patience, and tenacity.

Thank you for being partners in my children’s education over this past decade.

Posted in Sociology

Thoughts On Hurricane Season

The Atlantic Hurricane Season starts June 1.  Remember, the heart of the season is mid-August to mid-October. So, if there have been no hurricanes by the end of July, it does not mean anything is wrong.

Hurricane & Tropical Storm distribution through the season. Note the peak in mid-September and how quiet the early season usually is. (Climate Central)

Hurricane & Tropical Storm distribution through the season. Note the peak in mid-September and how quiet the early season usually is. (Climate Central)

Just about any question on hurricanes can be answered by the excellent FAQ maintained by the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory. Preparation guides are all over the place, one of my favorites is a collaborative effort between NOAA, the American Red Cross, and FEMA.

Seasonal hurricane outlooks are hot items this time of year, but the one thing most in the community agree on: there is a building El Niño, which often yields a less-active-than-normal hurricane season.

This does not mean the whole season will be quiet, it only suggests fewer storms than the long term average (11-12). After all, it only takes one hurricane along your favorite stretch of coastline to make it a devastating season. Hurricane Andrew is the most visible example of this.  Andrew occurred in 1992, a season with only six named storms.

Hurricane Andrew, shortly before landfall in South Florida in August 1992 (NOAA)

Hurricane Andrew, shortly before landfall in South Florida in August 1992 (NOAA)

The statement below is now almost 8 years old, but it bears repeating at the beginning of each hurricane season. It was signed by some of the most prominent individuals in the field of tropical meteorology. In fact, Peter Webster (below) was my tropical meteorology professor while I was at Penn State.

The signers often disagree… sometimes strongly… on whether or not there has been any human-induced change in hurricane frequency and/or intensity. I personally witnessed Chris Landsea and Kerry Emanuel debate the point at a 2007 conference in San Antonio.

In fact, it is increasingly hard to get all of the signers to agree on anything.

However, they all came together on this statement… and it deserves more press.

* * * * *

Statement on the U.S. Hurricane Problem
July 25th 2006

As the Atlantic hurricane season gets underway, the possible influence of climate change on hurricane activity is receiving renewed attention. While the debate on this issue is of considerable scientific and societal interest and concern, it should in no event detract from the main hurricane problem facing the United States: the ever-growing concentration of population and wealth in vulnerable coastal regions. These demographic trends are setting us up for rapidly increasing human and economic losses from hurricane disasters, especially in this era of heightened activity. Scores of scientists and engineers had warned of the threat to New Orleans long before climate change was seriously considered, and a Katrina-like storm or worse was (and is) inevitable even in a stable climate.

Rapidly escalating hurricane damage in recent decades owes much to government policies that serve to subsidize risk. State regulation of insurance is captive to political pressures that hold down premiums in risky coastal areas at the expense of higher premiums in less risky places. Federal flood insurance programs likewise undercharge property owners in vulnerable areas. Federal disaster policies, while providing obvious humanitarian benefits, also serve to promote risky behavior in the long run.

We are optimistic that continued research will eventually resolve much of the current controversy over the effect of climate change on hurricanes. But the more urgent problem of our lemming-like march to the sea requires immediate and sustained attention. We call upon leaders of government and industry to undertake a comprehensive evaluation of building practices, and insurance, land use, and disaster relief policies that currently serve to promote an ever-increasing vulnerability to hurricanes.

Kerry Emanuel
Richard Anthes
Judith Curry
James Elsner
Greg Holland
Phil Klotzbach
Tom Knutson
Chris Landsea
Max Mayfield
Peter Webster

Posted in Sociology, Weather Communications

The Deterministic Dilemma

I’ve thought about it for a few years now. Greg Fishel, Chief Meteorologist at WRAL in Raleigh, mentioned it at a conference a couple of years ago. More recently, I read a supporting post from the blog of Chuck Doswell (who has probably forgotten more about tornadoes than I ever learned).

As meteorologists, we have promised too much: The Deterministic Forecast.

To be sure, the science has made phenomenal progress over the past 50 years. We know so much more thanks to the computer advances that have allowed numerical weather prediction to be successful.  The day-to-day forecasts are good, in spite of public perception. Brad Panovich, Chief Meteorologist at WCNC in Charlotte, is among the many who have recently made this point.

The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know

Once the computing resources became sufficient to allow regular ensemble forecasting in the ’90s, it reaffirmed an important, if not obvious point: we cannot perfectly sample the current, instantaneous state of the atmosphere. An important point because all else being equal, the better the initial representation of the atmosphere in our computer simulations (models), the more accurate those simulations will be in their forecasts.

Because of those imperfections in the initial conditions (to say nothing of our approximations and parameterizations), highly precise deterministic forecasts, especially in the mesoscale, will continue to struggle. No surprise there. But this is especially evident when the public wants to know when precipitation will start and stop, especially convective precipitation.

Consequently, the idea of probabilistic forecasting has started to take hold, at least in some circles. I still remember Bob Ryan featuring graphics of Bob’s Odds regarding snowfall forecasts.


And of course, there has always been probability of precipitation in the forecasts, misinterpreted as it is.

The perception problem

But in the years, if not decades, before ensemble forecasting, the public became accustomed to deterministic forecasts. That type of messaging has become seared into the consciousness of the public, and it is the way most forecasts are still produced.

Evolving toward widespread use of probabilistic forecasts for public consumption presents an extraordinary challenge. One that may not really be attainable, as a move to probabilistic forecasts is going to be perceived by the public as a step backwards.

One or zero

A deterministic answer is desired… sometimes demanded…

Is it going to rain?

Is it going to be too cloudy to see the eclipse?

Should we call off the baseball game?

Should I evacuate?

Should I cancel the outdoor concert?

All of us have been faced with these questions, some have higher impacts than others. The public wants a yes or no; they are used to the deterministic message. Giving them percentages and odds often yields an uncomprehending scowl.

Big decisions, little time

Admittedly, the case below is seldom my professional problem, but those consulting meteorologists in private firms can probably relate.

Think about that outdoor concert during convective season. Sometimes, it appears clear that a venue will be impacted. Sixty minutes ahead of time, we may have very good confidence that a cell (read: thunderstorm) with damaging winds is going to be close enough to a venue to put 10,000+ people at risk of injury.

Is there enough time 60 minutes before a venue is impacted to call the venue operators or promoters and tell them there is a 80% chance of cloud to ground lightning in the next hour, or a 70% chance of damaging winds? Or do you just tell them you expect a bad storm with lightning and wind damage?

And then, do the venue operators roll the dice and sit on that information, hoping you are wrong, preserving the event?  Or do they make an effort to get that information to the crowd, sending people rushing for cover… or for the exits?

* * *

Assume the storm’s forward speed is a reasonable 40 miles per hour. More often than we might like, somewhere in that storm’s 40-mile path, its trajectory turns just a few degrees from the original heading (or curves a few degrees more than expected).  Sixty minutes later, the worst of the storm misses the venue by only 2 or 3 miles.

We knew those people were in danger. Did they?

Most of the time, they go on blissfully unaware. Maybe they saw lightning in the distance, and maybe it got a little breezy. But if they did not get wet, and the lightning was not perceptibly close, from their perspective, the storm missed them.

If the venue operators do not pass along the warning, the crowd is happy, and the operators gain a faulty piece of evidence suggesting we do not know what we are doing.

But if the crowd did get a message that a damaging storm was coming, from their perspective, the forecast was wrong. Period. They don’t care if it was close. They don’t care if it was a tough mesoscale forecast. Now there are 10,000+ people taking home that faulty piece of evidence.

Perhaps we should try this for the venue operators… There is a 70% chance the weather will be bad enough in the next hour that there will be an injury that will get you sued.

Deterministic descent

During internal staff meetings, I try to draw a probabilistic picture:

I may tell staff that the odds of at least a trace of snow are 80%, 1+ inch of snow are 40%, 4+ inches of snow are 20%. At the end of the meeting, I am invariably asked, “So, what’s going to happen?”

Discussing such uncertainties and probabilities, which is praiseworthy in an intrascience discipline, is often punished in the public forum. To a scientifically illiterate public, uncertainty suggests ignorance. Years of the public hearing that this is going to happen or that is going to happen is stuck in their conscience.  Probabilities? Uncertainties? Sounds wishy-washy.

Of course, the information we get from ensemble forecasts gives us a level of confidence in the forecasts, but does the public understand that? Do they want to hear that the meteorologist has low confidence in a particular forecast? I suspect that information is more palatable in print than in video media. The staff at Capital Weather Gang in Washington handle it as well as anyone else.

But in video media, there is more of a visible competition to be as precise as possible (a worthy goal, to be sure). Unfortunately, in weather patterns where mesoscale changes in temperature and moisture have huge repercussions on sensible weather (e.g. snowstorms), the public often sees wildly different forecasts among outlets.  As a result, it furthers a misconception, and I frequently hear, “They don’t have any idea what’s going to happen.”

And that’s from my mother.



If that were not bad enough, observe how forecasts are marketed. Most accurate forecast, Street level radar mapping. X degree guarantee. Storm arrival down to the minute. Again, all noble goals, and sometimes there is enough good information to make precise calls on the most important parameters.

I admit, forecasting the precise evolution of numerous ongoing convective cells on the timescale of 30-60 minutes is still a daunting challenge. But that is what we are tasked to do. I still hear the echoes from one of my Penn State professors, Michael Fritsch, “Anyone can forecast the first derivative. Your job is to forecast the second derivative.”

An asymptotic approach

I am not sure where we go from here.  I would like to think there is an opportunity to educate the public about probabilistic forecasts, but we still struggle with conveying probability of precipitation and the difference between and Watch and a Warning.

My guess is for business and industry, these probabilistic forecasts will make sense, helping those groups manage weather risk. Although, my friends in the energy industry tell me how amazing it is to watch markets fluctuate with each run of the GFS or ECMWF, so even that may be expecting too much.

For now, I will keep trying to demonstrate the value of the probabilistic forecast, even if it is just small talk, one person at a time.

But as much as I would like to be convinced otherwise, I don’t believe the general public will ever embrace probabilistic forecasting. Like it or not, we set the bar very high decades ago, and it is up to us to reach it.

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