My job is interesting and often misunderstood–even by some of my co-workers. My goal isn’t to get the viewers to remember a specific temperature, wind speed, or other forecast parameter. I need to leave them feeling the next day’s weather. I want people to walk outside the next day and go, “Yeah, that’s what I was expecting.” Few people can get to that point with numbers alone.
The job becomes more difficult with a tropical storm passing nearby. Within the next 24 hours Hanna will slide by just to the south of us. It’s a named storm. Even those with no tropical experience will pay attention.
The forecast seems reasonably easy. Hanna will be moving rapidly, picked up by the jet stream winds. Slower moving tropical systems are much more difficult to pin down. You never get 100% of the forecast right, but I’m pretty confident right now.
I tried as hard as I could to explain what Hanna would and would not be. We aren’t being hit by a hurricane or even directly by a tropical storm. Some of the day might be dry. The wind will ramp up late. The worst of the day (actually night) will be nasty.
Nasty is a word I used and reused today. I thought it was appropriate–probably more meaningful than numbers alone.
There will be problems. They’ll more likely be scattered than widespread. If a problem hits you, scattered and widespread become hollow words, It’s tough to predict where a tree will sever a power line or a clogged storm drain will flood a street.
I’m working Saturday. I need to keep things in perspective while on-the-air. Overdoing the warning has long term implications just as bad as underdoing the warning.
There’s a lot to ponder. Twenty five years of weather forecasting and it’s all still very complex and very much a challenge.