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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Snow foolin'

They have international computer models and air time that would make most Hollywood stars jealous. So how come meteorologists can't do the job for which they are paid -- accurately forecast the weather?

It wasn't quite as bad as ending up with two feet of partly cloudy, because our crack weather teams did predict precipitation. But for yet another time this winter they were grotesquely off the mark, causing a nightmare Friday morning commute and sending thousands of kids to schools in the middle of a raging storm.

Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who has been known to call off classes at the drop of a flake, wasn't about to take the blame on his shoulders, saying he has received forecasts that clearly failed to measure up to reality.

Gov. Deval Patrick, who wisely banned traffic during February's blizzard, was forced to label the storm a "nuisance."

The real nuisance is the out-of-control nature of weather news, breathless forecasters blogging and blathering about storms before they are born, cranking up the hype machine in search of rating points over their competitors.

It's sparked an online tradition that may soon rival the weather beacon on top of the old Hancock Building for New England lore -- even if it just a beacon of one season (and should probably include amber-colored liquids in the commodities New Englanders stock up on in addition to milk, bread and eggs).

It would also be fine if the forecasts were at least accurate, something that has failed to happen with increasing regularity.

At least one brave (former) TV forecaster was willing to fess up to the snafu, but the usual course of action is to laugh it off as a rather large "oops."

It wasn't an "oops" to folks who slogged through the slush, dropping kids off at school, then arriving to work late only to be dismissed early.

I wish I had a job in which I was allowed to be wrong half the time and still keep working. Plug that into your European model.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

As you said, the real problem is the cheer leading and hyping of a potential storm into something it isn't, all in the name of ratings and ego. Absent the bragging about accuracy and European models, sometimes mistakes are made and we live with them, but their behavior makes that unacceptable.

I could do without the wall to wall "team coverage" of the weather event with all its excesses. Give me a brief update on the hour, only interrupting if something serious occurs, and save me the repetitive nonsense, blathering on because you have airtime to fill and nothing new to add. I don't get why, at 11:00 PM Fri, I was still getting the minor snowfall reports of 3 to 5 inches for Peabody with no hint of what could be possible, and then no mention of what was happening on Sat. Even an "Oops, we screwed up" would have been acceptable. Instead they soldiered on in "Team Mode", as if hoping we wouldn't notice. We did.

March 09, 2013 2:36 PM  

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