WEATHER’S COMING!

I live in the Blackstone Valley where no one tells you nothing. When weather people stand in the studio and do their predicting, they position themselves so you can see the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Except where we live because that’s where they stand.

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I asked our friend, the trustworthy meteorologist (there is one and he is it) about this. He said, “Well, we have to stand somewhere.” But on his next broadcast, he moved aside for a few seconds so that I could see the map. Thanks!

When anyone mentions the valley at all, it’s Worcester. The rest of our towns don’t exist. I have learned to read weather maps because I’m not going to get information any other way. Dinosaurs could be roaming the Valley, and no one would notice unless one of them ate a tourist.

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Now that we’re turning the corner to warm weather, I can take a deep breath and relax. It’s a quiet weather period, usually.

The past couple of months gave us a big dose of weather frenzy. Most of it was on the money, unlike previous winters when the frenzy exceeded reality by 100%, give or take a few points. I was numb from the hyperbole of previous years, so I ignored the warnings. When the first, huge blizzard hit at the end of January, we were unprepared. I hadn’t even bought extra groceries.

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The frenzy isn’t harmless.

Weather sells. It pulls in viewers. When hurricanes or blizzards threaten, people who normally don’t watch the news tune in. Higher ratings, lots of teasers.

“Seven feet of snow on the way!! Will you be buried tomorrow? Story at 11!” It’s money in the bank. Doom is a perennial best-seller.

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TV stations like to whip everyone into a frenzy. It’s good business. Weather predictions don’t carry issues of journalistic responsibility. No one can call you to task for being wrong because, after all, it’s the weather.

The frenzy is not harmless. Every weather event is presented as if it’s the end of the world. It’s impossible to figure out if this next thing is serious or more of the same.

Should we lay in supplies? Ignore it? Plan to evacuate? Fill all the water containers? Cancel travel plans? Make travel plans? Head for public shelters?

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Hysteria is exhausting and worse, it’s numbing. Some of us worry about the possibility of weeks without electricity. Telling us our world is ending is upsetting if you believe it. It is even more dangerous if it’s serious, and we don’t believe it.

They shouldn’t say that stuff unless it’s true. Or might be true. At the least, it’s rude to scare us to death, and then say “Sorry folks.”

You can’t unring the bell. When the real deal occurs — as it did this winter — we don’t listen. Weather forecasting may not be legally subject to standards or accuracy, but maintaining credibility might be worthwhile. I’m just saying, you know?



Categories: Media, News, Photography, Seasons, Television, Weather

Tags: , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. The only weather forecast I trust is the window – just look out and see what you are getting, that and how warm you are.

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  2. It’s a little cool in these parts. I’m ready for some heat.

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  3. It’s better than the alternative. The biggest snowfall I’ve seen in the 25+ years I’ve lived in NH was in the late 1990s a few days before Christmas. We were getting 2 to 3 inches. After spending well over an hour to get my car out the radio said we were getting 2 to 3 inches. The worse drive in the 25 years I’ve had, not including this one, was a little over an hour – it took me 3. After a total of 5 hours in the car, the whole time the radio saying 2 to 3 inches, I finally got far enough off the road at home so the snow plows wouldn’t hit the car and measured almost 40 inches. The TV still insisted 2 to3 inches.

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    • I remember it. Or one just like it. It just kept fall and when it finally hit more than a foot, they finally decided to change the prediction. A lot of us got caught in that. It wasn’t as bad down here as up there. We had about 28 inches. I think they do rather better these days. Not good enough, but better.

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      • I do think they are better, but now they have a tenancy to over predict so they don’t get caught like that again. I’m pretty sure it was ’97 because we had just moved into this house in the snow-shadow of the Wapack range so we got much more snow than Manchester or Nashua (where I work) – my wife’s drive from Lowell was even worse than mine…

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        • We were still in Boston in 1997. We moved to the Blackstone Valley in 2000 where we learned about snow. I think they have the technology to be make more accurate predictions than they used to. The smart ones explain the possible scenarios — movement and speed of storms.

          And you are right about over-predicting. They have upped the ante a lot. Unfortunately, this year, it wasn’t excessive. If anything, it was still less than the amount that actually fell. I think the 7 feet we got in Worcester in that first blizzard was a warning shot over the bow. We knew winter may have arrived late, but it had arrived and wasn’t just fooling around.

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  4. I hate the hype and feel with today’s “computer models” they should be getting it right all the time. It is the only profession where “oops, sorry” is permitted

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    • We have ONE meteorologist (Take a bow, Harvey Leonard!) who gets it right pretty much every time. This year, he was right on for each storm to the point where I really wanted him to be wrong. He used to work with Garry and they are friends. Overall, everyone’s predictions are more accurate than they used to be. The hype isn’t the meteorologists (usually). It’s station ownership drumming up business.

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  5. Marilyn, this whole post had me laughing so hard I almost cried. Picturing your weatherman standing in front of your area had me rolling because it happens to everyone. It’s part of Murphy’s Law. We too live in a valley surrounded by mountain ranges. Within a 50 mile radius there are at least 5 distinctly different weather patterns. It’s impossible to give one forecast for the whole region. Nobody blames the weatherman for blowing it because he’s right, somewhere. LOL

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    • There’s something about river valleys that changes the way weather affects us. That they stand in front of the valley is because the Blackstone Valley is dead center of the state. The Blackstone River pretty much bisects Massachusetts, so it is the natural place to stand. They rarely mention us anyway because we aren’t a big populations center. The broadcasts concentrate on more densely populated areas — Boston and its suburbs mostly, with a few words for the rest of the region.

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      • Our forecasts are just the opposite as we are the major population center in all of Oregon. 90% of the population of the state lives in 3 major metropolitan areas. Our weather issue is with topographical issues that will never be resolved. Still, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

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        • River valleys. Not just yours and mine, but they never are really sure how the topography will affect snow or rainfall. A mile’s distance between two points can make a huge difference in how much precipitation you get.

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  1. Television Weather Hysteria — What’s With That? | In and About the News | Scoop.it

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