All eyes have been on a system that could develop next week and potentially give the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast an early-season snowstorm. While we always like to give our viewers an early look into what could happen with these storms, there is a distinct difference between actually making a solid weather forecast based on meteorology and a “forecast” based on model run to model run. Social media has been an incredible source of information, which has allowed us to deliver quality weather information out to the public in a very efficient way. However, social media has also made it a lot easier for certain pages and sites to put out what they consider a weather forecast and claim that it is backed with solid meteorology.
In today’s modern world, many of the forecast models and other available tools can be accessed by almost anyone who has an internet connection. It’s been amazing to have access to such a wealth of information, but that comes with a cost that you may not actually see. Let me be clear that I have always been supportive of the idea of being able to provide quality information to the general public for free, and had I not had access to these free or inexpensive resources, Firsthand Weather would likely not exist.
The purpose of this article is to warn you of the faulty weather information out there that may seem credible but actually could not be. Even meteorologists have been guilty of hyping forecasts as a way to drive views so I’m not directed this at any particular group, inexperienced or experienced. What I want to make you aware of is the difference between what I call a model hugger and an actual weather forecaster, and I am going to do this by listing out some distinct differences between the two groups.
1) The Model Hugger uses the weather models as a forecast; the Weather Forecaster uses them as a tool.
2) The Model Hugger changes his or her forecast based on each model run; the Weather Forecaster won’t change anything unless the meteorology backs it up.
3) The Model Hugger uses hype and scare tactics to relay information out to the public; the Weather Forecaster chooses his or her words wisely.
4) The Model Hugger doesn’t understand or try to understand why the forecast models are predicting what they are; the Weather Forecaster tries to understand if a particular forecast model is making sense or not.
5) The Model Hugger typically doesn’t know a lot about meteorology; the Weather Forecaster usually has a degree in the field or has studied a lot about the subject on his or her own.
Those are just a few things to watch out for. With all of that said, I see nothing wrong with discussing and blogging about what the forecast models are predicting and explaining your thoughts and opinions many days in advance. The reason I have done well with my website in the last four years is because I have always given my honest opinion on what I think is going to occur, and a lot of times have gotten it right several days out. Don’t get upset when you get a forecast wrong! It happens to all of us and the weather is very unpredictable. And for those of you who rely on us weather forecasters and meteorologists for weather information, make sure that you always choose your sources wisely!