Weather Plus Packs Up Its Anemometer

It’s on Channel 248 on my cable system. That’s a problem too.

NBC’s Weather Plus is going off-the-air. If you’re like most people you won’t miss it because you didn’t know it was there.

NBC News President Steve Capus informed the on- and off-air Weather Plus staff headquartered at CNBC facilities in Englewood, N.J., Tuesday morning that the operation would be phased out in stages through the end of the year.

NBC recently bought the Weather Channel–probably the final straw for Weather Plus. Unfortunately, Weather Plus matches up poorly against the Weather Channel. It’s a badly formatted service that provides little not already available and was viewed accordingly. Using a combination of local and national talent the service was neither polished nor compelling.

It’s on Channel 248 on my cable system. That’s a problem too.

I’ve paused a moment to watch Brad Field, hopefully recorded since it’s 3:18 AM. I believe Brad is the longest running ‘main’ weather guy in the market. I wonder if he’ll miss taping these segments?

A friend from another Connecticut station with their own cable weather channel (Channel 247) said he’s gone on-the-air and asked people to email hm, just to say hello. At last check he’d never gotten a viewer response!

So many channels. So much competition.

The Forecaster’s Burning Ears

I have my name ‘forward searched.’ If a new entry comes on the Internet, or gets published in a newspaper, and if Google sees it (and they see everything) , they send me an email. I get asked for quotes about the weather all the time and I like to see what people write.

A few minutes ago, Google sent me a link. They’d found a new webpage with my name on it.

The link led to a site where there is an argument going on about me. How absolutely weird&#185. How many other problems must you solve before you get to me on life’s giant to-do list?

The combatants are on a site populated by weather lovers. By and large, these people like active weather and are disappointed when the forecast doesn’t follow. What they do is called ‘wishcasting’.

I think most forecasters overforecast snow. My forecasts tend to be conservative. On a seasonal basis, I would guess I forecast fewer inches of snow than any other meteorologist in Connecticut. No one gets them all. My forecasts are pretty accurate.

The link led directly to a post ridiculing my forecast. I learned a long time ago you don’t do that until AFTER the event.

Did anyone see Geoff Fox’s snowfall forecast. My jaw almost hit the ground when i saw 0-1″ for the shore and 2-3″ well inland with 4-7″ for the northern counties. That microcast is frying his brain or something. Anyone with a half a brain could forecast this storm better than that. Look at this consensus…

Another poster added:

he just went with precision microcast. Didnt even make his own forecast. I guess that leaves you the easy out…”the model was wrong” if you bust.

Followed by the closer:

Geoff fox may be right for THE WRONG REASONS based on the available data its STUPID to forecast what he did. Whoeever said it was based on that POS microcast was right. Thats exactly what he used he didnt forecast at all, use thermal profiles, etc. I refrained from emailing him but its sad. Even Brad Field told me “WOW…hes nuts, i would sell my house if we dont get accumulation on the shore”

This is one of the saddest things ive seen come out of that weather center

Brad is my friend. I’m sure I’ve said worse about him. No foul.

You know, it wasn’t too long ago this stuff would have bothered me. I’m on TV. I understand people will judge me.

Some people did come to my defense. They’ll be receiving something extra for Christmas.

Here’s the payoff:

Well, it look like Geoff Fox’s forecast will verify yet again. YOU are the crazy one. he was right about everything. The sleet mixed in early and i only got 2 inches here in monroe which northern sw ct. Geoff Fox is RIGHT most of the time. he forecasts reality. don’t get me wrong, I LOVE SNOW! but the pattern we are in is not bringing much of it here and Geoff has forecast basically every storm right so far this year. so don’t bash his forecasts till they bust, because in this case, you and everyone else busted.

Ah, sweet revenge.

Truth is, any forecast can be a bust – even one prepared with all due diligence. That’s why I sweat them all out. It’s the most nerve wracking part of my job.

Though one poster accused me of using a single computer model out of the box, I put a lot of thought into what I finally forecast and use a lot of tools in getting there. There are charts and maps and columns of numbers from multiple computer models.

I’m a math geek. I love this stuff.

I am ultimately responsible. It’s my decision… my voice… not some suite of models and simulations. I apologize when wrong. Thankfully, not often enough that the guy who said I’d blame the models would have ever seen me do it.

I’ll tell you a secret. This is real ‘inside baseball’ stuff and I won’t be offended if you’re bored.

My number one job is not accuracy. Please, don’t get me wrong, accuracy is important. If I’m not accurate, people will stop watching. It’s just not number one.

My main goal is to tell a useful and memorable story. I need to leave the audience with an understanding of what will happen. If I’ve done my job right, they will viscerally understand the weather to come.

A forecast is worthless if it can’t be conveyed to the audience in a useful fashion – no matter how accurate

And, in reality, there is no practical difference between 3″ or 5″ or 7″ of snow. They all have virtually the same effect. They are dealt with the very same way. With 3″ or 5″ or 7″ of snow, schools will close, plows will roll, traffic will snarl and nighttime activities will stop.

That’s why using graphics derived from a single model is OK, even when they differ slightly from my ideal forecast. I would rather use an effective tool to connect an idea to the viewer rather than throw it out, especially when its deviation from my thoughts is inconsequential.

&#185 – I’m not going to publish the link and would rather it not be included in comments.

Working On Vacation

I had my car washed today. It’s not that it was dirty as much as I wanted it to be clean! I was going to a meeting with my weatherboy peeps and this is as close as I get to ‘dress to impress.’

All things considered, I should have taken a pass. I’m on vacation. However, the guest of honor was Walt Drag. That changes everything!

I’d better explain. In the weather world, even when you don’t use the Weather Service forecast (and I don’t), you still read the Weather Service discussions. They are heavily technical and go deep into the thought process of the on-duty NWS lead forecaster.

They’re fascinating and insightful and loaded with enough abbreviations to make them nearly unintelligible to casual readers. Walt Drag is the Steven Spielberg of the forecast discussion!

Walt was coming with Nicole Belk, a Weather Service hydrologist (think flooding). Together, they were presenting a rundown of changes and highlights at the Weather Service.

Since the Weather Service office that serves most of Northern Connecticut is in Taunton, MA, and since 20 local meteorologists were expected, Walt and Nicole came to Connecticut. Brad Field at Channel 30 volunteered their studio as our lecture hall.

That was pretty nice. That WVIT sprung for sandwiches was even nicer.

In 23 years in Connecticut, I’d never been inside of Channel 30. In fact, though I’d seen the building from the Interstate, and knew its address, I couldn’t find it until cruising through the neighborhood a few times.

It was nice to see ‘the guys.’ Other than Nicole, all the local mets attending were guys. Some I hadn’t met before. Some I hadn’t heard of before. A few were really young – I hate that.

I tend to be a pain-in-the-butt at times like this, and today was no exception. I have a huge beef with the Weather Service, and I got it off my chest again.

Though I don’t use the NWS forecast, I do try and use their watches, warnings and advisories. The problem is, there are three Weather Service offices that cover Connecticut. Each serves a small slice of the state and is quite parochial in its outlook.

There’s no easy way to explain this, but sometimes using the watches and warnings from all three offices would be misleading. That’s especially true during winter weather situations.

There needs to be a lot more coordination than there is now.

Brad said he sometimes changes what’s issued, so it makes sense – even though he’s putting words in the NWS’ mouth. I do the same thing. We can’t be alone.

Unfortunately, I’ve been bringing this up for as long as I can remember. And, obviously, I haven’t had a lot of impact.

It’s a shame, because in the long run, it’s the general public that gets under served because of this situation.

I did learn a lot from what Walt and Nicole presented, which was good. It was also a lot of fun getting to see all those people I usually only see on TV.

Oh – it was also good to finally see what Channel 30 looks like.