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Eric, you’d think it would be Hurricane Gloria. Maybe it should be. It helped establish a reputation for service in a tough situation. People saw me on-the-air for 24 hours straight.
Instead my most memorable was a blown forecast.
It happened well over twenty years ago. It was a snowstorm that wouldn’t end! I spent hours on the air showing the radar, seeing the back end of the system and saying the storm would soon be out of the state. I did that through nine or ten additional inches of snow!
As I would later understand the error in forecasting was mine. We had less guidance then, but I should have known. I’ve been through many similar storms since and understand the dynamics much better. In fact we had a similar storm this winter which was forecast well (though with some trepidation).
So, why is this one so memorable? It was the first storm where I was wrong and was punished by viewers. It took a few years before the ill will I acquired from that episode wore off. It was awful.
No one wants to get the grief I got over that one snowstorm. I certainly don’t.
What this storm did was help me understand how my work is being used. It was a lesson more forcefully learned in this storm than Gloria where I mostly got kudos.
It’s tough to explain because my attitude had never been cavalier. It just made me much more conscious of the utility of my work and the impact of my words. Twenty plus years later I think of that storm every winter and how to avoid a similar forecast disaster.
From time-to-time I’ll still blow a forecast. This past winter had a glaring example. It’s unavoidable when you’re predicting the future.
If you lived in my shoes you’d know how hard I work to avoid that. I’m not trying to set myself apart. I can’t believe anyone who does what I do feels any different.
There’s no upside to being wrong.