Meteorologists should be given credit when they are right!

By: AJ Jain , 2:05 AM GMT on December 22, 2011

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Just for kicks, I did a Twitter search yesterday evening and typed in the keyword “meteorologist.” And I saw at least 10 tweets that said they wish they could be a ‘meteorologist’ so they could get paid to be “wrong”. And the next set of tweets I saw were showing how many people were blaming their local TV meteorologist for how lousy their forecast was.

Many people are quick to point the finger when the forecast is wrong, but rarely give credit when the forecast was right. In fact, I didn’t see any tweets commending their local weatherman or their local NWS meteorologist for nailing the forecast. I believe that meteorologists should be given credit when they are right!

Mike Smith, from Meteorological Musings, also brought this topic up on his blog (here). He mentioned that a NOAA meteorologist complained about this at the Weather Ready conference, too.

My theory on why meteorologists do not get credit for accurate forecasts from the public is for the following reasons:

1) High expectations: I think public expectations are so high for an accurate weather forecast, that there is rarely ever any validation to a meteorologist who has nailed a forecast. Plus many believe since meteorologists are “paid” to be “right or wrong”…they should be “right” all the time.

2) No Central Support Platform: When a meteorologist has “nailed” a forecast, what are they supposed to do? Scream it to the world and hope someone hears it? Bottom line, there is no central support platform or site to where a meteorologist can showcase their success and receive some validation.

3) “Accuracy” issues: It sometimes can be a bit difficult to give credit when there isn’t a clear definition of what makes a forecast “accurate”. What is the definition of an “accurate” weather forecast? Is it nailing the high temperature, low temperature, cloud cover (if any), or precipitation amount (if any)? Or is it one or the other? Or maybe it’s the severe weather event itself (ie major flood, hurricane, etc).

And there’s also an issue of “when” the meteorologist made the call…for example, if meteorologist A made an accurate forecast 5 days in advance while Meteorologist B made the same forecast 1 day in advance…does it mean meteorologist A should get more “credit” when the forecast is accurate because he or she made it earlier? I think to the public it’s still a little “hazy” (pun intended).

But just so you’re completely clear on my point about meteorologists deserving credit for accurate forecasts; I don’t think a meteorologist needs validation if he or she forecasts 70 degrees and sunny in San Diego, CA. My point is meteorologists should deserve credit when they forecast a severe weather event in advance (and the “call” is correct).

For example, let’s say the meteorologist is forecasting the anticipation of either major flooding, blizzards, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, Santa Ana winds, Chinook winds, mudslides, wildfires, avalanches, etc. If the severe weather event they “called” comes into fruition, I think they deserve get some credit. And I believe NWS meteorologists should also get a lot of the credit because many times it’s they who made the call for the TV meteorologist to communicate. I also believe “public-facing” meteorologists should deserve the “credit” too (ie NWS, TV).

So, how would they get some credit?

Here are some of my solutions:

1) “Forecaster of the Month”: I think each Local NWS office should have a “forecaster of the month” and highlight them not only in their internal offices, but also on their websites.

2) Central portal: There needs to be a central place where a meteorologist can communicate and prove his or her accuracy. Maybe the NWA or AMS can have a place on their existing website that recognizes the successes of meteorologists. Maybe someone else can put it on their platform? Heck, I’ll even showcase those “accurate” meteorologists on my blog if meteorologists communicate and prove their successes to me.

3) NWS and Local Media: I believe there should be a stronger connection between each NWS office and their local media (radio, newspapers, TV). I believe that the NWS should send out press bulletins for those meteorologists in their office that nailed a major “severe weather forecast.” Maybe it’s done monthly…but either way it would hopefully help get some credit for successes in our field.

4) A Simple “Thanks”: A simple “thanks” can go a long way. Just calling or emailing your local meteorologist to tell them what a great job they did can make them feel all tingly inside and receive that “credit” or “validation” they deserve.

And yes I also do believe TV meteorologists deserve credit too since they do communicate the pertinent weather information and potentially save lives during severe weather events. And yes I do believe it’s okay to “share credit” with each meteorologist who made the call.

But I also believe that the meteorologist who makes the “earliest” call for a severe weather event deserves the most “credit.” It’s because he or she stuck their neck out there to give warnings farther in advance. I think timing should definitely be factored into “accuracy”. I also believe what makes a forecast “accurate” is whether the “severe weather event” came into fruition at the time the meteorologist had mentioned.

Bottom line, I’d personally like to see more success stories of meteorologists being “right” than always hearing how “wrong” they are. Mike Smith (on his blog) also mentioned that 99% of fatalities within tornadoes were within a “watch” or “warning”. I feel the public also doesn’t realize how difficult it is to make an “accurate” forecast. I do think meteorologists are more “right” than “wrong” but the public continues to focus on the “wrong”. Hopefully we all can work together to change that perception!

Do you think meteorologists deserve more credit? Do you have any other ideas? Would love to hear them.

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3. cyclonebuster
6:12 AM GMT on December 27, 2011
So should inventors!
Member Since: January 2, 2006 Posts: 127 Comments: 20470
2. airman45
8:54 PM GMT on December 26, 2011
Just tell these people who always say you are "wrong" to come do it themselves. Weather is an inexact science and always will be. But it is far less inexact than it used to be.

I think all weather forecasts should come to a complete stop for a time, say 6 months, and you will see some serious screaming!!
Member Since: April 2, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 3509
1. carneval
3:16 AM GMT on December 23, 2011
You will get as much credit as I can muster if you can bring some pow to New England.
Member Since: December 23, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 0

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About FreshAJ

Hi, I'm AJ Jain! I am a meteorologist, a family man, and a real estate investor. I've been on TV, in Aviation, and on the Energy Trade Floor.