Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Followers Beware: Tweets on Seemingly Inevitable Storms Often Wrong

This morning provided another reminder that, in our eyes at least, tweeting meteorologists are putting too much predictive emphasis on emerging radar echoes and, in their efforts to be precise, forgetting that storms die out, rebuild and change directions. At a minimum, they'd be wise to at least use more cautionary wording like "may" or "if it holds together" when discussing the movement of storms seemingly headed for the metro.

This morning, Sven Sundgaard detailed with seeming certainty the arrival of morning storms per the graphic below. With our hopelessly untrained eye, we looked at the radar shortly after 7 and wondered if that would actually happen. For one, the storms were a relatively long way away (though moving very quickly) and it seemed puzzling that one could speak with such certainty given the distance the storms still had to travel. For the fun of it, we tweeted close to 8 a.m. that we had our doubts. But it wasn't until close to 9 a.m. that Sven acknowledged that the storms indeed were going to miss the most of the metro.

Tweet issued at 7:07 a.m.

Amateur tweet at 7:59 a.m.
Tweet issued at 8:44 a..m.

Conversely, we did note that Jonathan Yuhas, whose tweets were off the mark during the day and evening of the U2 concert employed wording that acknowledged merely the possibility of storms arriving in the metro.

 It's baffling to us why many forecasters continue to make pronouncements of impending storms in such certain terms, particularly when storms are still a decent distance away. Why not use tweets to put us on alert and then communicate with more certainty when storms are truly on the doorstep. Doesn't that make more sense?

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  1. Excellent (last couple of) posts Bill. I for one have been absolutely disgusted at the cockiness & certain-ism going on with TV mets over the last two weeks. I will put them in 2 camps: 1.) The cocky WILL/WON'T camp; and 2.) The COULD/SHOULD/MAY camp.

    Camp 1: Sven & Ian are the absolute worst of the bunch - I believe last Sunday, I watched Sven's evening news forecast say that the frontal boundary had passed, and no storms would be able to fire - he was very certain. 3-4 hours later the my house was rockin' with a heavy thunderstorm that lasted well over an hour that developed from the OUTFLOW boundary Sven claimed to be FRONTAL.

    Ian - During last week's lunchtime severe storms that tore through the Metro, Ian was drawing on his radar/chat screen that the storms would go directly east when they were around Mille Lacs, he was so certain saying no chance of even brushing the north Metro - this was an hour before we got whacked.

  2. No telling the worst of Tweeting and Facebook. Read a book and get off the tweet, you'll live longer!

  3. Camp 2: The Patrick Hammers, Paul Douglas', Ron Trenda's of the world who do it the right way, by not stating certainties even with short-term forecasts. I respect these guys immensely. I also miss Chikage Windler greatly - she was probably the best local met when it came to using Twitter in a responsible, informative way.

    Camp 3: Mike Augustniak: The last couple weeks of extreme heat, rapidly changing severe weather scenarios, etc - he just wants to talk about what to name his puppy, and various other annoying crap, along with the occasional overconfident forecast tweet that turns out to be wrong an hour later.

    In summary, I wish someone (I'm counting on you, Mr. Douglas), could explain to the audience why things have been so tricky/unpredictable. As a viewer/reader/follower, I would have more patience for a busted forecast if I understand the variables involved.

  4. Dave in Woodbury,

    Mr. Douglas, is nothing more then a hack for global warming fakerie. I doubt you'd find a less slanted forecaster! Much less someone able to explain the forecasters unpredictable forecasting and puppy naming. The chicks who watch them at 7 am love this stuff.

    Follow Novak and you'll be fine. Ignore mainstream forecasters.

  5. Twitter is sadly a bad platform for weather information. Information is tossed out unedited with little thought. It exposes the lousy weather people who can't seem to even just look out the window.

    I agree that Chikage was superb with social media and KSTP was stupid to let her go if they wanted a younger demo.

    Ken Barlow has tweeted some similar nonsense as Yuhas. Yuhas -- he just needs to shut-up until he gets something right (I don't follow him)

  6. @Dave in Woodbury,
    Good points all. As for Augustyniak, I stopped following him because of all the non-weather "stuff." Seems to me he's insulting those who care about his weather insights.

  7. I believe if your using twitter you need to be extremely accurate,the weather is happening virtually within 100 miles,if you cant get that right what good are you.Also have you seen the 70's coming next week(50's at night)maybe for 3 days,LOVE IT!,turn off the ac and open some windows finally,fall is around the corner hopefully sooner rather then later.

  8. Anonymous,

    I disagree. I think Paul Douglas is a brilliant meteorologist who's emotion gave the impression of him overhyping events.

    I do wish he'd calm down on the global warming stuff though. Its supposed to be a weather blog.

  9. @ Big Daddy

    I thinks your going to love the rest of August, at least until the start of the state Fair, there are some differences between the GFS and the ECMWF that week with the GFS keeping us quite cool but the ECMWF would be around 85°. Looks to me like our 90's are done with (that's my vote btw for none) enjoy it, I know my grass will!

  10. I have the same hunch, Randy. It's just the way it seems to work around here.

  11. i think now would be a great time to take a look at this upcoming winter. It would be wery iteresting to see what the natinal forcasters are saying about this winter. I did some digging around in the NWS site, and found this:


    As you all know, La Nina typcally means a snowier and cooler than normal winter. If La Nina were to re-develop, we could have a repeat of the 2010-2011 winter.

    I will do more searching on other major sites like accuweather, wunderground, and weather.com. If I find somthing relating to this, I will post it here.

  12. Sorry about spelling errors.

    wery should be very...
    iteresting should be interesting...
    the i should be capital.

  13. @bemaki

    I too have been watching that...if we go back to La Nina we will have plenty of moisture here, maybe to much, but that would be really bad news for Texas and the drought situation. Excuse me Bill I know this a local blog..just wanted to throw that out

  14. randyinchamplin...

    The picture should be a little clearer in a month, when the next ENSO diagnostics discussion should be released. For now, we'll have to just wait and see.

  15. bikini, since most of us are still in thongs sweating, can we discuss winter when it closer to winter? Some of still have visions of sugar plums and prefer to enjoy the warmth!

    I think spell checker got it all. Have warm sleepless night studying those charts bikini.

  16. anonymous at 818...

    Some of us just want the heat to end. If La Nina does develop, the end will come sooner. In fact, nicer weather is here, due to the fact that a ridge is already beginning to build in the Pacific.

    The big question is: How strong will the ridge get, and will La Nina redevelop?

    Or a question that can be answeared more immeadiatly:

    What would you prefer:

    A quick end to the heat and a snowy winter with a lot snow to shovel, or a longer end to the heat with a typical amount to shovel?


  17. Just added a new blog post for a place to comment on what seems the end of summer....