On the Balance Between Communication and Hype

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By Scott Roberts

I hesitated before I composed this morning’s heads-up outlook. My thoughts were along the lines of  “here it is Wednesday, and I’m looking at model data from Tuesday night, and the models I can access differ significantly — yet I feel the need to post about it now.”

A really good discussion has erupted online today, not having to do with this system but with the tropical system forecast by the GFS next week. I’m not going to wade in the middle of that, except to say: I think now is an appropriate time to remind you it’s not what any one source you trust tells you regarding the weather…it’s what you consistently hear from multiple sources. It’s up to you to filter the hype from the facts.

…broadcast and NWS meteorologists really can’t speak out much in public, but don’t take their public silence as complacency. Some of the loudest and most anti-hoaxer ranting I’ve heard comes from broadcast mets behind the scenes. Social media hypestorms make their lives hell because the public sees “big blizzard next week!” on Facebook and doesn’t care that it came from a 12-year-old trying to get likes on his FB page. People take it out on the actual meteorologists when the hoax/hyped storm doesn’t pan out. Dennis Mercereau, in comments following an article he wrote for The Vane today.


THAT’S why I posted the heads-up for Sunday/Monday. I heard first about it from Ryan in last week’s long-term outlook and have now been seeing discussions of it in various NWS offices for the past 2-3 days. So I checked the models for myself and found the two I watch this far out (the GFS and the Euro) have significant disagreements about that time period. I expect them to resolve at some point, and it won’t surprise me at all if the Euro has the more accurate solution this far out. The GFS does have decent skill with Plains weather systems in the spring, but its skill at tropical forecasting is dismal at best. I’d bet the farm on the Euro solution (a clear Gulf a week from now) than on any of the GFS tropical output so far.

If you EVER feel I’m hyping a storm or expressing more certainty than I ought, please call me out on it. Can that be our deal?

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